Researchers from MIT attacked the United Nations' recent global climate report and said that the U.N. underestimated the severity of Arctic sea ice melting. MIT's research team said that the thinning probably happened four times more quickly than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted. The panel predicted that all ice would disappear in the Arctic by the summer of 2100. MIT forecasters said that it will likely happen sooner.
Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research said that the level of Arctic sea ice loss seen in the past decades is not due to natural causes alone and that the ice will vanish if accelerated climate changes persist.
Interestingly, the NCAR also found that Arctic ice is as likely to increase as it is to decrease for periods of up to about a 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," NCAR scientist and lead author Jennifer Kay 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.
Kay said that tumultuous atmospheric conditions such as wind patterns could stabilize sea ice loss for a short period of time, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. In the long term, however, we are fated to see a disappearance of sea ice, Kay said.
Kay attributed approximately half of the decline to human emissions of greenhouse gases and half to climate changes, the UCAR reported.
The study appears in Geophysical Research Letters this week.