Monday, June 30, 2008

North Pole may have ice-free period this summer: US expert

There could be a brief time this summer when there is no ice on the North Pole, a US scientist said overnight, blaming global warming that has melted the Arctic ice sheet over decades.

"We could have no ice at the North Pole at the end of this summer," National Snow and Ice Data Centre scientist Mark Serreze said.

"And the reason here is that the North Pole area right now is covered with very thin ice and this ice we call first year ice, the ice that tends to melt out in the summer."

He put the chances of there being no ice at one point at 50 per cent, saying it could see "ships sail from Alaska to the North Pole, that's possible".

The ice on the north pole has melted before, "but certainly not in modern times," Mr Serreze said.

"Clearly if you look over what we have seen in the past three years and where we were headed, we are in ... this long-term decline and we may have no ice at all in the Arctic Ocean in summer by 2030 or so."

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