Some scientists aboad the Canadian research icebreaker Amundsen are predicting that the North Pole may be ice-free for the first time in recorded history this summer. While this is not the same as saying the whole icecap will be gone, it does seem like the sort of thing likely to have symbolic resonance. At the very least, it becomes a bit harder to argue that no overall warming is taking place when huge chunks of the cryosphere start to vanish.
While there are good reasons to doubt whether this year will really see the pole bare, it is only really a matter of time:
[G]iven the rapid changes now evident in the Arctic, the ultimate fate of the North Poleâ€”in fact, all permanent ice in the Arcticâ€”may be all but assured. Almost all models have the Arctic completely ice free in the summer by 2100.
This raises some worrisome questions. If the sea ice is being lost at a greater rate than anticipated, is that likely to carry over to Greenland? If so, the optimistically low estimates for sea level rise published by the IPCC may prove grossly inaccurate.