Arctic ice melt likely to stabilise

August 12th, 2011 - 2:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 12 (IANS) Arctic sea ice, which seems fated to melt in response to warming climate, might stabilise or even expand over the next few decades.

The computer modelling study bolsters previous findings that natural causes alone cannot explain Arctic ice loss in recent decades. But in an unexpected result, scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) found that Arctic ice, under current warming levels, is likely to expand as well as contract over 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,” says NCAR scientist Jennifer Kay, who led the study, the journal Geophysical Research Letters reports.

“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,” adds Kay, according to an NCAR statement.

“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.”

Kay explains that variations in atmospheric conditions such as wind patterns could, for example, temporarily halt the sea ice loss. Still, the ultimate fate of the ice in a warming world is clear.

“When you start looking at longer-term trends, 50 or 60 years, there’s no escaping the loss of ice in summer,” says Kay.

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