Aug 13 2008
the entire program
The Arctic Ocean’s sea ice is melting rapidly this summer at a pace that could eclipse last year’s record-breaking retreat. Scientists, who previously charted a moderate recovery for this year, modified their predictions after recent storms over Alaska’s Beaufort Sea accelerated the disintegration. With this year’s melting of Arctic sea ice set to be as bad or perhaps even worse than last year, scientists charting the changes have even modified their long term projections. Whereas an ice-free Arctic summer was originally forecast for 2070, new estimates place the likelihood of such a scenario at only five years away. The unprecedented thawing of the North Pole will have far reaching implications for the earth’s environment. The Arctic ice cover’s rapid retreat will raise global sea levels, affect weather patterns in the northern hemisphere, heat the earth’s temperature and increase threats against local wildlife such as polar bears that depend on sea ice for hunting. It will also open access to previously unreachable oil and gas deposits prompting northern nations to set claims to undersea territories.
For more information, visit www.nsidc.org.
GUEST: Walter Meier, Research Scientist with the US National Snow and Ice Data Center