Extreme, record-breaking Arctic summer ice melt both in area and volume, dramatically indicates, many scientists say, that Arctic sea ice has passed a tipping point and that sometime in the next decade the North Pole will be largely ice-free in summer, reports Fen Montaigne at Environment360. Now, warming is causing warmer air is being pulled into the Arctic, and increased summer storms and cyclones are both driving ice out of the Arctic basin and breaking up the ice pack, further exposing more dark water. When summer melting ends, the Arctic Ocean will be covered with 45 percent less ice than the average from 1980 to 2000 and have over 70% less ice volume than the average of that period. Scientists observing the melt have been taken aback by its swiftness. The loss of the great white summer dome of Arctic ice will have profound effects, scientists say, including 1) a reduction of sunlight reflected back into space by the ice, 2) significant changes to the jet stream and Northern Hemispheric weather patterns, and 3) even-more rapid Arctic warming, speeding the melting of Greenland’s massive ice sheets and increasing global sea levels.
Arctic Tipping Point: A North Pole Without Ice, Fen Montaigne, August 30, 2012. http://e360.yale.edu/feature/tipping_point_arctic_heads_to_ice_free_summers/2567/