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Arctic Ocean edging towards ice-free for first time in millennia

Arctic scientists examining sea ice and melt ponds in the Chukchi Sea in high north.  NASA photo.
Arctic scientists examining sea ice and melt ponds in the Chukchi Sea in high north. NASA photo.
Avery Zingel, Vancouver Observer, 29/01/15

The fear is this could lead to “runaway global warming” said Beckwith. Newly released methane warms the planet, in turn releasing more methane. If this loop is triggered, Beckwith thinks it may not be possible to stop planetary warming, even with human effort to curb emissions.

“It’s the most powerful feedback in the Arctic,” he added.

NASA recently declared 2014 as the hottest year on record, and scientists at AMEG warn that global attempts to lower carbon emissions are too little and too late.

The scientists clarify that an ice-free Arctic still means ice chunks will remain floating around, but the once inhospitable region will become far more navigable to ships than ever before. 

Oil and gas companies see that as an opportunity. Shell Oil says the Arctic contains "30 per cent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13 percent of its yet-to-find oil."...more