Last chance to see? Image: Kyle May/Flickr.
If you’ve ever fancied enduring a brisk and revitalising summer dip in the Arctic Ocean but couldn’t get past all that pesky ice, hold onto your Speedos and mark 2019 on your leisure time calendar because apparently the Arctic’s icy coverage will be largely gone in around a decade.
At least, that’s the view of Professor Peter Wadhams of the University of Cambridge, England, who’s been studying conditions in the Arctic region since the 1960s.
Speaking in London during an event to showcase the findings of the extensive Catlin Arctic Survey, Professor Wadhams said the survey’s data supports the consensus view that “the Arctic will be ice-free in summer within about 20 years, and that much of the decrease will be happening within 10 years.”
He also noted that the diminishing ice coverage will result in the Arctic region soon being an open sea during the summer months, leaving it open to providing short-term benefits such as improved shipping opportunities and easier access to oil and gas reserves.
However, those short-term benefits could also give way to detrimental long-term consequences such as accelerated global warming, shifts in circulation connected to the planet’s oceans and its atmosphere, and other as-yet unknown ecological ramifications.
The Catlin Arctic Survey’s findings are based on the examination of seasonal variations of ice extent and thickness, changes in temperature, winds and especially ice composition.
The research was gathered by a hardy scientific expedition that monitored, measured and traversed some 435km of Arctic ice between March 01 and May 07 of 2009.
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