According to a BBC article, some scientists are predicting the disappearance of all Arctic summer ice within five to six years. This projection is based on computer modeling by Wieslaw Maslowski and uses data that doesn’t even take into account the spectacular loss of Arctic ice last summer. Maslowski’s team has produced an estimated rate of loss much higher than those of other groups who have studied the issue, but he defends the quality of his modeling:
“We use a high-resolution regional model for the Arctic Ocean and sea ice forced with realistic atmospheric data. This way, we get much more realistic forcing, from above by the atmosphere and from the bottom by the ocean.”
Even the work of other teams suggests the loss of summer ice between 2040 and 2100: a very rapid climatic change, given how most forms of natural climatic forcing operate on the timescale of millennia
The progressive deterioration of the northern polar cryosphere is disturbing for a number of reasons. Because water absorbs more energy from sunlight than ice does, the loss of the icecap would accelerate global warming. It would also eliminate or substantially alter the lifestyles of those living in the north, as well as most Arctic species. That said, there is some chance that the sudden disappearance of the Arctic icecap would be dramatic and irrefutable enough to kick off much more serious global action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and prepare to adapt to the amount of change that is now inevitable. In a world where the Arctic vanished before our eyes, radical ideas like those of Monbiot may start seeming reasonable to a lot more people.