Scientists in the US have presented one of the most dramatic forecasts yet for the disappearance of Arctic sea ice.
Their latest modelling studies indicate northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years.
Professor Wieslaw Maslowski told an American Geophysical Union meeting that previous projections had underestimated the processes now driving ice loss.
Summer melting this year reduced the ice cover to 4.13 million sq km, the smallest ever extent in modern times.
Remarkably, this stunning low point was not even incorporated into the model runs of Professor Maslowski and his team, which used data sets from 1979 to 2004 to constrain their future projections.
“Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007,” the researcher from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, explained to the BBC.
“So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative.”
“In the end, it will just melt away quite suddenly.” — Professor Peter Wadhams
Source: Jonathan Amos, BBC News