Summer Ice to Disappear from Arctic in 5 years

Is a trip to the Arctic in your future summer travel plans? Well you better get a move on because it’s not going to be there in 5 years.

In April this year the BBC reported that Arctic ice was melting faster than originally calculated by computer models. They demonstrated the Arctic was loosing summer ice at a rate of 9% per decade since 1979 which meant the summer artic ice would be gone by the second half of this century.

Now, at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, scientists reveal their original estimates to be too conservative and that the Arctic may be ice free by 2013. They’re querying whether it can actually be saved at all.

Summer 2007 was an extraordinary melting season with a record withdrawal of 19 billion tons more from the ice sheet than the previous recordings in 2005, only two years ago.

The ice is melting quickly due to higher surface temperatures of up to 3.5°C and as there is less ice to reflect the sun’s rays the water is warming up too, increasing the rate of melting.

There’s been talk at the current UN Summit for Climate Change in Bali that industrialised nations should commit to cuts of 25-40% by 2020. By the looks of it that’ll be too late for the Arctic. If the summer ice disappears so too will the wildlife of the artic, so plan your trip soon.

And don’t forget to offset your emissions; whether the retreat of ice can be interrupted by travellers doing their bit for climate change is dubious but at least we’ll be trying.

For trips to the Arctic and surrounding areas check out:

See 3 December entry for more on the UN Climate Change Conference 2007.