Climate change is warming the Arctic twice as fast as the rest of our planet. As a result, the Arctic Ocean’s highly reflective sea ice cover is decreasing quickly.
In winter, this ocean is covered completely by ice ranging from 6- to 12-feet thick. During summer months, the ice cover is reduced by half. Because of warming, however, scientists estimate that by 2040 the Arctic Ocean will be ice free in the mid-summer months. The ice loss rate has been estimated at 3 percent per decade, but this may be too conservative. In recent years the rate seems to be increasing. These numbers apply to the ocean’s surface, but a more troubling number is loss of ice volume (mass). Research has found that over the past four decades the thickness of the polar ice has been reduced by 65-85 percent.