In 2007, a team of scientists led by Wieslaw Maslowski predicted that sea ice in the Arctic would be nonexistent in the summer months come the year 2013. Many scientists disagreed with this conclusion, with a large number of scientists predicting the more likely date for the scenario would be in the decade of 2040. Now using more advanced computer models, the team of scientists once again estimated the timeframe.
Using the new climate modeling, one the scientists believe is similar to that used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientists again came up with a prediction found to be controversial According to the new climate models, Maslowski’s team has determined that the Arctic will likely be without sea ice in the summer by the year 2016. However, the margin of error is plus or minus three years.
In other words, the earliest the Arctic would be without ice in the summer according to the new models would be 2013- the same conclusion as in 2007. However, the scientists believe there is a strong possibility that by the end of the decade, as in 2019, the Arctic may be ice free in the summer. Not surprisingly, the conclusions are being criticized once again, citing the likelihood of ice disappearance is decades from now.
The findings were presented at the recent European Geosciences Union meeting. The new computer model takes into account the interactions of the ice, the Arctic ocean, the atmosphere and the rivers in the region. In addition, the thickness of the sea ice is being taken into account- a condition which can greatly impact the speed of melting.
Unfortunately, thick multi-year ice is becoming less and less common in the Arctic and is being replaced by thin ice. This thin ice will be more difficult to predict the behavior of but overall is much more susceptible to melting than multi-year ice. Therefore, no scientists are able to predict a summer free of ice in the Arctic with any great certainty aside from knowing that it will occur.