Scientists: Arctic ice may not go away so quickly
A polar bear sits on sea ice in the Canadian Arctic.
August 11th, 2011
01:05 PM ET

Scientists: Arctic ice may not go away so quickly

Earth's Arctic ice is disappearing. In fact, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center told CNN last week that, within three decades, the top of the world would be practically ice free during the summer.

This week scientists are saying, not so fast. You might want to plan for that ice-free Arctic Ocean summer sail about 50 or 60 years from now.

That's because new computer models run by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, show the ice cap could just as easily expand as contract in periods of up to 10 years at a time.

“One of the results that surprised us all was the number of computer simulations that indicated a temporary halt to the loss of the ice,” NCAR scientist Jennifer Kay, the lead author of a new study on the Arctic ice, said in a news release.

Climate variables such as shifting wind patterns could temporarily reverse ice loss, Kay said.

“The computer simulations suggest that we could see a 10-year period of stable ice or even an increase in the extent of the ice.  Even though the observed ice loss has accelerated over the last decade, the fate of sea ice over the next decade depends not only on human activity but also on climate variability that cannot be predicted,” Kay said.

But she said the overall trend is clear.

“When you start looking at longer-term trends, 50 or 60 years, there’s no escaping the loss of ice in the summer,” Kay said.

The latest research appears in this week's Geophysical Research Letters.

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Filed under: Climate change • Environment
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. michaelfury

    August 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Canadian Genius

    C'mon. Melt already. I want to grow mangoes in my backyard.

    August 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. termlimits

    Just because its 107 in Dallas doesn't mean there's manmade global warming, it's august!!

    August 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. U-Turn

    Take that Al Gore!

    August 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sindee

    And the dog days of August at that....
    Mangos. Yummy!

    August 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. leeintulsa

    Yay! Instead of 30, 60. I'll be dead by then.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. slider

    Did you get Al's permission before you aired this story? You sure were on his bandwagon for years. What happened?

    August 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • U-Turn

      Even Al Gore is not immune to these hard economic times. he must have failed to pay his CNN surcharge to keep them on his side.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jester & jackal

    Seems like you are missing the point. It is still melting. Not as fast as thought before. But when did a computer simulation prove to be 100% correct. It could be gone in ten years for all we know. Even next year we could lose a ton. It will be an election year and there is always a lot of hot air.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. fernace

    Whatever is causing our hotter weather & strange weather patterns, does it really matter if it's man or nature made? The results are the same, lakes are drying up & whole populations in African nations are suffering because of the Drought! We are going to have to find new ways to deal with the weather, no matter what & clean water is our most precious resource, which is hard hit already! We can stubbornly refuse to believe facts or we can prepare! I vote for the latter!!

    August 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mack

    @ fernace:
    So plan carefully where you build your next house.
    Three pigs, wolf...
    Shifting sand...

    August 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. leeintulsa

    @fernace: it matters in that we need to adapt or perish. I'm sure it's a combination of factors, some man-made, some not.

    If we can identify specific factors, ie CO2, we might be able to lessen the effects or delay the inevitable. Or not. Won't know until we try..

    Likewise, if we know what we are dealing with, we can possibly create ways to deal with and adapt to whatever may come.

    August 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©

    @Mack: lol!

    True. And, hello.

    August 11, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. john

    Get real people, haven't any of you seen pictures of from the dust bowl days. Temperatures have always changed and always will-it was much warmer during the Jurassic Period than it is now, do you really think dinosaurs were driving around in automobiles come on grow a brain already. @Jester&Jackal: you actually proved the point, we don't know what's going to happen with the weather patterns, it's just as likely we could go into another ice age which is where scientists used to claim we were headed, yes the same scientists who are now crying global warming which makes their theories more than a little suspect.

    August 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. john

    Sorry about the of from I didn't catch that when I changed what I was writing.

    August 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chico

    Well, then, if you were re-writing what you wrote, you could have taken out the insult implying were brainless. Instead, you just reinforced that you are.

    August 11, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
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