Doomsday Clock: Scientists Say Ten Years Till all the Sea Ice in the Arctic Disappears Forever

By Anthony Smith on August 16, 2012 3:22 PM EDT

Sea ice
Sea ice (Photo: Flickr.com/divedivajade)

Scientists are now saying that we have approximately ten years till all the sea ice in the arctic disappears forever. This is, of course, a really big deal-- even if you're not a polar bear or a penguin.

Climatologists, the scaredy-cats of the science world, are at it again with their fire-and-brimstone analyses of the exponentially rising rates of greenhouse gas emissions in this particular moment of industrial engineering, and its effect on detrimental climate change and our environment.

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CryoSat-2, the world's first space satellite built specifically to capture photos of and study the thickness of sea ice (unfortunately burdened with a name that sounds like a Bond villain's refrigerator) discovered that the sea ice in the Arctic is disappearing at a rate that's so much faster than what scientists had previously estimated. 

Look at it this way: in 2004, there were 17,000 cubic kilometers of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Last winter, there were 14,000 cubic kilometers. This summer, we lost 900 cubic kilometers more sea ice than we what we had originally expected to lose.

If this rate continues, scientists are saying that all the sea ice in the Arctic ocean will have disappeared for the summertime in about ten years.

Naturally, the implications are enormous and none-too-sunny: with absolutely no sea ice to be found in the summer, there could be a giant blitz on the region's valuable fish, oil, and minerals. Sea routes would be open for claim by various nations.

And that's just the immediate national and economic concerns. Climatologists note that without the cap's dazzling white reflecting potentially harmful sunlight back into space, ocean temperatures will climb and any methane stores on its bed could potentially rise into our atmosphere.

A spike in the level of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, could very well catalyze global warming, speeding up the melt rate of glaciers and raising our sea levels.

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