Researchers from MIT criticized the United Nations' global climate report, saying it seriously underestimated the speed of Arctic sea ice loss.
Thinning occurred at approximately four times the rate reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, MIT's research team said. The panel said that all summer sea ice in the Arctic will disappear by 2100, but MIT said it will happen much sooner.
Meanwhile, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research said that the level of Arctic sea ice loss in the past few decades is not just due to "natural causes" and that the ice will disappear if climate changes continue to be volatile.
The NCAR also found that Arctic ice is as likely to increase as it in to decrease over the next decade.
"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," Jennifer Kay, NCAR scientist and lead author, said. "The computer simulations suggest that we could see a 10-year period of stable ice or even a slight 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," she added.
According to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Kay said inconsistent atmospheric conditions such as wind patterns could stabilize sea ice loss for some time. In the long term, however, we will irrefutably see a disappearance of sea ice, Kay said.
Kay attributed half of the decline to human emissions of greenhouse gases and half of the decline to climate changes, the UCAR reported.
According to the Vancouver Sun, Pierre Rampal of MIT's department of Earth, Atmosphere and Planetary Sciences said that the forecasts were widely divergent with reality after comparing IPCC models with actual data. IPCC used temperature changes, a catalyst for increases and decreases in ice and said that the report underestimates the role of mechanical forces in ice melting.
Mechanical forces include wind and ocean currents, which break up ice. Small pieces of ice inherently behave differently from large pieces and are prone to thinning when temperatures change.
Large cracks in winter ice, on the other hand, creates new ice due to refreezing. Rampal said that because "everything is coupled" in these complex feedback loops that "it's hard to predict the future of Arctic sea ice."
The most important thing to do is to start "with the interventions even earlier. Now," IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri said in an interview, the New York Times reported.