Ice thickness, estimated by combining six climate models selected for this study, is shown for the Arctic in September now (left) compared with conditions of a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean in 30 years (right). Image: University of Washington/NOAA
According to new research the Arctic Ocean may be ice free in the summer months much faster than previously estimated. Research based on earlier climatic models suggested that this would not occur until the end of the century, but new models suggest that the Arctic might lose most of its ice cover in as little as 30 years - three times more rapid than previous studies have indicated. If this was to occur, the amount of the arctic covered by ice at the end of the summer could be down to around 1 million square kilometers (390 000 square miles) compared with the currently coverage of 4.6 million square kilometers (1.8 million square miles).