Ice-Free Arctic by... This Summer?!

First they said 2050, then 2013. And now, the latest forecasts suggest that there is a 50/50 chance we may see an ice-free Arctic Circle by the end of this summer, MSNBC reported today.

While a complete melt of all arctic ice will not lead to direct increases in sea level, unlike Greenland and the Antarctic, the flow-on effects could be dramatic.

With the white, reflective ice gone, and in its place dark absorbent sea surface, there will be a massive decrease in albedo (high albedo means more reflective). This means that more of the sun's radiation will be absorbed, and the Arctic Circle, which has already seen some of the highest temperature increases on the planet, will begin to heat up even faster.

Then there are immediate concerns for temperatures throughout the northern hemisphere. According to one of the scientists in the report, the north pole acts like a giant air-conditioner, cooling the northern half of the globe and maintaining air and water flows across the planet. Without this effect, it is impossible to know for sure what kind of dramatic changes might occur.

But, there may be a silver-ish lining to these storm clouds.

When the world hears that the North Pole has "melted away", it may just shock the planet into serious action.

Let's hope the world listens to the last gasps of our dying northern ice cap and works to stop global warming before Greenland and Antarctica follow suit.

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Ice-Free Arctic by... This Summer?!
While a complete melt of all arctic ice will not lead to direct