Arctic Sea Ice Melting Faster Than Expected, New Study Warns

Arctic sea ice is melting so fast most of it could be gone in 30 years. A new analysis
of changing conditions in the region, using complex computer models of weather
and climate, says conditions that had been forecast by the end of the century
may occur much sooner.

The new report is by scientists at the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere
and Ocean
and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

The scientists expect the
area covered by summer sea ice to decline from about 2.8 million square miles
normally to 620,000 square miles within 30 years. Since 1979, the six lowest
winter maximum ice covers have all occurred in the last six years.

Arctic sea ice is so important because it helps cool
the planet by reflecting sunlight back into space. As the ice melts, the sun’s
warmth is instead absorbed, increasing water and air temperatures.

Published: April 9, 2009