There has been a new warning that the Arctic ice cap could melt sooner than expected. Experts say data shows that the polar region could be ice-free in summer by as early as 2040 as global warming takes hold. Bruno Tremblay, an environmental scientist from Canada’s Mcgill University, said: “We have a decline in surface area covered by sea ice of eight percent per decade in the last 30 years so we are thinking there is a possibility of having an ice-free Arctic at the end of the summer in the decades to come.”
Global warming is being blamed for the melt, which has been predicted by computer simulations looking at past ice levels. “In the Arctic there will be less ice cover which basically means a warmer climate, the loss of permafrost and beach erosion around the Arctic Ocean. In addition the habitat of local wildlife will also be affected, for example polar bears and walruses need the ice as a platform for hunting and fishing,” explained Tremblay.
Recent research shows that melting sea ice means polar bear cubs in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea are less likely to survive compared to 20 years ago. Melting arctic ice could mean nations responding to what are termed “geo-strategic issues”. For example, Russia and Canada could find new shipping routes opening up.