Good Question

Recently accepted paper by James Overland and Muyin Wang poses a challenging question: When will the Summer Arctic be Nearly Sea Ice Free?

The abstract says, it depends: Three recent approaches to predictions in the scientific literature are: 1) extrapolation of sea ice volume data, 2) assuming several more rapid loss events such as 2007 and 2012, and 3) climate model projections. Time horizons for a nearly sea ice free summer for these three approaches are roughly 2020 or earlier, 2030 +/-10 , and 2040 or later.

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Yearly Sea Ice Volume Loss

The question: "When will the Arctic be ice free?" can be posed differently as: "When will we have 100% ice loss during the melting season?". The interactive chart above tries to answer second question. The yearly loss is defined as the difference between maximum and minimum volume.

'Ice free' and 'ice loss' are slightly different concepts or metaphors. A loss of 100% means the Arctic is ice free and a loss of 0% there was no Summer. Ice-free-ness implies the sheet starts phasing out somewhere in the future. Actually this is already happening and it is accelerating. The real question is when will it hit the ground? Having 100% ice loss eliminates all room for discussion, because there is no such thing as 110% loss, 100% loss simply means game over.

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