Arctic may become ice-free this year or next for the first time in more than 100,000 years, a leading Cambridge scientist has claimed. According to the predictions of Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University in the UK, we could see “an area of less than one million square kilometres for September of this year”.
Provisional satellite data produced by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre shows there were just over 11.1 million square kilometres of sea ice on June 1 this year, compared to the average of nearly 12.7 million square kilometres for the last 30 years, ‘The Independent’ reported.
“My prediction remains that the Arctic ice may well disappear, that is, have an area of less than one million square kilometres for September of this year,” said Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge.
“Even if the ice does not completely disappear, it is very likely that this will be a record low year. I am convinced it will be less than 3.4 million square kilometres,” he said. “I think there is a reasonable chance it could get down to a million this year and if it does not do it this year, it will do it next year,” Wadhams added.
The last time the Arctic was clear of ice is believed to be about 100,000 to 120,000 years ago. Sea ice is usually at its lowest in September and starts to build again when the winter sets in. Dr Peter Gleick, a leading climatologist, said he had “no idea” if Wadhams’ prediction was correct.
Gleick, however, said that Wadhams was right to sound a warning about the rising temperatures in the region, adding it was “extraordinarily disturbing even in a world of disturbing news about accelerating climate change”.