Arctic climate is changing significantly in a number of different ways at a rapid pace and the consequences will be felt on a global scale. One of the drastic changes is the rapid loss of the Arctic sea ice. The aerial shrinkage of the sea ice determined from satellites has been 17-20% during the last decade. However, models indicate that sea ice thickness and volume have decreased possibly twice as much during the same period (Maslowski et al., 2007). Should the present trend of sea ice melt continue, some models suggest that the Arctic Ocean could become near ice free in the summer time within one decade. One could argue that the models shown in the graph below are quite conservative as they are linear extrapolations of recent trends and Arctic Sea Ice volume has been shown to be decreasing non-linearly.
Kwok, R., and G. F. Cunningham (2008), ICESat over Arctic sea ice: Estimation of snow depth and ice thickness, J. Geophys. Res., 113, C08010, doi:10.1029/2008JC004753.
Kwok, R., G. F. Cunningham, M. Wensnahan, I. Rigor, H. J. Zwally, and D. Yi (2009), Thinning and volume loss of the Arctic Ocean sea ice cover: 2003–2008, J. Geophys.
Res., 114, C07005, doi:10.1029/2009JC005312.
Maslowski, W., J. Clement Kinney, J. Jakacki, "Toward Prediction of Environmental Arctic Change", Computing in Science and Engineering, vol. 9, no. 6, pp. 29-34, Nov./Dec. 2007, doi:10.1109/MCSE.2007.125.
Maslowski, W., State and Future Projections of Arctic Sea Ice, Changes of the Greenland Cryosphere Workshop and the Arctic Freshwater Budget International Symposium, Nuuk, Greenland, 25-27 August, 2009.