Ice-free summer at North Pole – in 2017?

New book presents solutions to a gloomy outlook
The Arctic Journal publishes a book review of A Farewell to Ice, by one of the world’s leading sea-ice experts, Peter Wadhams ScD.
In the book, Wadhams warns that the consequences of the retreat of sea ice in the Arctic are far more wide-ranging than most decision makers admit.
The professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge has been the leader of 40 polar field expeditions and advocates the use of climate engineering to mitigate climate change.
He presents findings suggesting that the first ice-free summer at the North Pole could occur as early as 2017, not 2050 as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects.
The panel, he believes, is guilty of massively underestimating the pace at which sea ice is receding and the global impact this will have in the form of droughts, storms, floods and famine.
The UN body is “consciously ignoring the observational data in favour of accepting models that have already shown themselves to be false”.
A Farewell to Ice explains how melting sea ice starts a number of feedback loops, where the impacts caused by the lack of ice lead to further sea-ice loss.
One such loop arises when the loss of ice creates larger waves in the Arctic Ocean. With less ice to give a protective covering, the polar winds create more and larger waves. These hit the remaining sea ice and break it up more quickly, making still larger waves in a self-perpetuating cycle.
Wadhams also describes the release of methane from the region’s permafrost and the Arctic Ocean floor – a gas far more destructive to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Immediate action is necessary, he says, for example in getting the oil industry to drill under the ocean floor to reach the methane and burn it off at the surface.
The Arctic Journal

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