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Climate Change

Arctic Could Be “Free” Of Sea Ice This Year Or Next — 1st Time In 100,000 Years

A somewhat controversial statement was made 4 years ago by Professor Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, that the Arctic Ocean could well be free of sea ice within only a few years.

While it’s arguable if making such statements publicly is a good thing (better not to make possibly false statements, better to wait for events to speak for themselves, etc), it appears that Wadhams may well have been right — give or take a few years.


Wadhams was recently quoted as saying that the new records set this year — ~11.1 million square kilometers of sea ice on June 1st rather that the 30-year average of 12.7 million square kilometers, for one — supported his earlier claim.

“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. Even if the ice doesn’t completely disappear, it is very likely that this will be a record low year. I’m convinced it will be less than 3.4 million square kilometres (the current record low). I think there’s a reasonable chance it could get down to a million this year and if it doesn’t do it this year, it will do it next year,” Wadhams stated to The Independent.

It should be clarified here that “ice free” in the Arctic doesn’t refer to a complete lack of sea ice — because sea ice in between the various northern Canadian islands is notoriously persistent — but rather that the vast central part of the Arctic Ocean and the North Pole will be ice free.

The last time that this is thought to have happened is around 100,000 to 120,000 years ago.

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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.


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