Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sea Ice extent as of August 22, 2007. Image courtesy of NASA.

If your life's goal is standing at the North Pole, you'd better book your tickets now.

If the increased rate of melting continues, the summertime Arctic could be totally free of ice by 2030.

Mark Serreze, an Arctic specialist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre at Colorado University in Denver, said: "It's amazing. It's simply fallen off a cliff and we're still losing ice."

The Arctic has now lost about a third of its ice since satellite measurements began thirty years ago, and the rate of loss has accelerated sharply since 2002.

Dr Serreze said: "If you asked me a couple of years ago when the Arctic could lose all of its ice then I would have said 2100, or 2070 maybe. But now I think that 2030 is a reasonable estimate. It seems that the Arctic is going to be a very different place within our lifetimes, and certainly within our childrens' lifetimes."

On the up side, you can now sail the Northwest Passage. The National Snow and Ice Data Center has the details:

Another notable aspect of August 2007 was the opening of the Northwest Passage. During August 2007, the passage was the most navigable that people have seen since monitoring began. The Northeast Passage, along the Russian coast, is still blocked by fairly heavy ice conditions north of the Taymyr Peninsula.

Might the Northeast Passage open in the next few weeks? We will be monitoring the situation.

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