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Death Spiral Watch: Experts Warn 'Near Ice-Free Arctic in Summer' in a Decade if Trends Continue

If so, it may well usher in a permanent change toward extreme, prolonged weather events.

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Jay Zwally, chief cryospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and an observer of Arctic ice for 40 years, places little stock in the likelihood of a reversal of disappearing Arctic ice. New satellite technology has given scientists the ability to measure the height of sea ice above the water, and hence ice volume. Those measurements, he said, have vividly underscored that Arctic sea ice is in a swoon.

For example, a recent analysis of data from CryoSat and NASA’s ICESat satellite estimates that the volume of sea ice in a large area of the central Arctic Ocean has plummeted in late winter — February and March — by nearly half in just eight years, from an estimated 13,000 cubic kilometers in 2004 to 7,000 cubic kilometers in 2012.

“We’ve gone through a tipping point, and of all the things a tipping point applies to, sea ice is the most appropriate, because the idea is when it goes below a certain thickness it doesn’t go back under present conditions,” said Zwally. “People can get hung up on the specifics and lose track of the big picture, which is that it’s getting worse and it’s going to get [even] worse.”

And that has serious consequences for every person on this planet and countless future generations.

 
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