Scientists: Arctic sea ice will disappear in only 10 years

Melting ice | Image: Guardian Unlimited Once the Arctic sea ice starts melting, it will only take 10 years to disappear completely, according to a new report from the world’s leading climate scientists. That’s a shame, but it’s not going to happen for decades, right?

It depends whether you’re optimistic or not, because there’s a 50% chance that it will start happening in the very imminent future – meaning that there is a 50% chance that by as early as 2025, all the Arctic sea ice will be gone. Completely.

Why would it take the ice so little time to melt? The problem is that once the ice starts melting, a greater area of the Arctic is covered in water rather than ice. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina | Image: National GeographicWhereas ice reflects most of the sun’s energy, water absorbs a large amount of it, leading to further warming. It quickly turns into a runaway cycle, and after just a decade of melting it’s all gone.

But why does it really matter for humanity? Arctic ice melt affects not just polar bears, but also humans. If the whole of the Arctic was to melt, sea levels would rise by as much as 59cm (2 feet), causing serious flooding in coastal cities such as New York and London. As for New Orleans… they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Other timescales for climate change effects given in the report include 50 years until the death of the Amazon rainforest, and the same amount of time until the death of the Boreal forest across Canada, Alaska and Russia. Remember that that’s 50 years from when the tipping point is reached, not 50 years from now. But it may not be very far in the future from now. (Click here for an excellent interactive map detailing the widespread impacts of climate change)

 Penguins in Antarctica, which is also starting to melt | Image: National Geographic

I’m a firm believer in protecting our environment before it gets too late. I think humans should reduce CO2 emissions at all costs, but many people disagree. What do you think? Is it all completely natural, or is it wrong for developed countries to take action while China builds a new coal-fired power station every week? Post your comments below.


7 Responses

  1. If only more people thought like this the problem would not exist now. throught ut my time at school and college I have been taught about the effects of green house gases and CO2 emissions, and even as a child of around 8years, i hav tried my hardest to get my parents to recycle and have struggled, due to their upbringing of it not mattering as the earth can take this amount of pollution.

    the problems with society today is that people want to change the amount of extreme weather occurances, but are not willing to change their lifestyles, such as making the efforts of recycling, having other resources of electricity. the amount of people i have spoken to about their CO2 emissions tell me that they’d like to help, though they feel they are unable to do more than recycle the odd bits that the cousel collect, as the resources are not their for them to change their lifestyles, and/or they cannot live without the highest of standards of electricity etc.

    it is high time people stop being so dam selfish and think about hteir children, or if they hve none the youngest people in their families etc. do they want them to live in a world which suffers from flooding, severe earthquakes, snow storms etc. the continue the way we are… but if people want future generations to have a better planet, a healthier planet then DO something about it!!!! get of backsides and recycles, change the energy company your with, use a renewable source. anything and everything is possible to ensure the safety of the planet for future generations. lets save the planet and ensure the survival and safety of our children, as well as numerous species of animal!!!

  2. Well said! 🙂 I totally agree with you – people need to realize that if they don’t recycle, save energy, etc. right NOW, then our grandchildren will grow up not knowing what a Polar Bear is.

    When it comes to climate change, there is too much talk and not enough action. If we don’t start making big changes now, then we will seriously regret it in 50 years.

  3. This ice melt idea has long been dispelled. These ‘scientists’ have only been monitoring the ice for 35 years! Any scientist with any credibility would NOT make such claims as above, with only 35 years of data, out of millions of years of earth. contains a more revealing truth on this whole global warming scam!

  4. Oh dear oh dear – it looks like we have a global warming skeptic.

    Actually, I quite like talking to skeptics because I can always prove them wrong. 🙂 Scientists have been monitoring the ice for hundreds of thousands of years, because ice cores from deep underground have details of atmospheric composition, ice density and loads more from long back in the past.

    Thanks for letting me prove my argument was correct! 😆

  5. Not a sceptic, a non believer in the church of global warming…lol

    And you proved your argument how? With Ice Cores? What about the ice that melted before we became responsible? Guess we can’t check those cores.

    The study of the melting ice caps has only been going on in earnest for 35 years, since satellites actually started monitoring ice flow.

  6. how can the artic ocean just disipear

  7. Hmm!
    You do need to keep up to date with whats going on up there in the Arctic
    The ice extent fell to its lowest ever level in 2007. Since then it seems to be recovering. The Arctic ice extent at this very moment is higher than at any time since 2000.

    NASA clearly stated at the conference in April 2008 “the ice extent in Antarctic has INCREASED 1% per decade for the past 30 years.”

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