From: Thomas Schueneman, Global Warming is Real, More from this Affiliate
Published October 17, 2009 11:55 AM

Scientists Suggest New Arctic Study May Oversate Sea Ice Melting

Cambridge professor Peter Wadhams made headlines yesterday when he said that data gathered from British explorer Pen Hadlow's Arctic trek, called the Catlin Ice Survey, shows that Arctic summers will be entirely ice-free by 2020.

Today, many experts fear the Wadhams may be overstating just how fast the Arctic will be open ocean in summer. Walt Meier, senior scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado is one of those experts.


I would say that 10 years is particularly overly aggressive, to my mind," he said. "The best estimate that we've seen from climate models is 20 to 30 years."

Meier referred to recent research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Washington projecting an ice-free Arctic summer by 2037 – still well ahead of projections of just a few years ago looking at century's end for a complete summer melt of Arctic sea-ice.

What's important to note, however, is that with increasing instability of the ice, rapid declines in sea-ice cover could occur under the right the conditions.

A sudden loss of a lot of ice, that would not be surprising, based on the modeling studies, but the question is when that happens," Meier said.

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