Ice Free Arctic Anytime Soon
Scientists who predicted a few years ago that Arctic summers could be ice-free by 2013 now say summer ice will probably be gone within this decade.
The original prediction, made in 2007, gained Wieslaw Maslowski's team a deal of criticism from some of their peers.
Now they are working with a new computer model - compiled partly in response to those criticisms - that produces a "best guess" date of 2016 - "plus or minus three years".
One of the important ingredients of the new model is data on the thickness of ice floating on the sea.
Since the spectacularly pronounced melting of 2007, a greater proportion of the Arctic Ocean has been covered by thin ice that is formed in a single season and is more vulnerable to slight temperature increases than older, thicker ice.
Arctic Sea Ice News NSIDC
Over the past several decades, the spring ice cover has become increasingly dominated by younger and generally thinner ice, because of strong summer melting in recent years that has reduced the amount of ice surviving into winter.
This year the older, thicker ice has increased somewhat over last year, although it remains younger than the 1979 to 2000 average ice age. Data through the third week of March shows an increase in sea ice one to two years old, and older than two years old, compared to recent years. However, the amount of older ice remains much lower than in the mid-1980s, and there is still almost none of the oldest ice, older than four years old, that used to dominate much of the Arctic Ocean.
So is that a dead cat bounce or the signs of a recovery? My guess is that it ain't going to be ice free in my lifetime.