The accelerating loss of Arctic sea ice is having an effect equivalent to doubling the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the problem in the first place, warns one of the world's leading sea ice experts. The ice reflects sunlight, but as it disappears, the energy is absorbed by the open water that replaces it, causing a contribution to global warming "the equivalent of about 20 years of additional CO2 being added by man," Professor Peter Wadhams tells the BBC.
Wadhams, a professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, warns that Arctic ice is rapidly headed for oblivion. "The volume of ice in the summer is only a quarter of what it was 30 years ago, and that's really the prelude to this final collapse," he warns. "The extra open water already created by the retreating ice allows bigger waves to be generated by storms, which are sweeping away the surviving ice." He predicts that Arctic summer ice cover will be entirely gone as soon as 2015, although other experts don't expect that to happen until 2030. (Read more Arctic stories.)