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North Pole summers may be free of ice in 10 years, explorers say

LONDON — The North Pole will turn into an open sea during summer within a decade, according to data released Wednesday by a team of explorers who trekked through the Arctic for three months

The Catlin Arctic Survey team, led by explorer Pen Hadow, measured the thickness of the ice as it sledged and hiked through the northern part of the Beaufort Sea in the North Pole earlier this year during a research project.

Their findings show that most of the ice in the region is first-year ice that is only around six feet deep and will melt next summer.

The region has traditionally contained thicker multiyear ice, which does not melt as rapidly.

"With a larger part of the region now first-year ice, it is clearly more vulnerable," said professor Peter Wadhams, part of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge, which analyzed the data.

Martin Sommerkorn of the World Wildlife Fund said the Arctic sea holds a central position in the Earth's climate system.

"Such a loss of Arctic sea ice cover has recently been assessed to set in motion powerful climate feedbacks, which will have an impact far beyond the Arctic itself," he said.

North Pole summers may be free of ice in 10 years, explorers say 10/14/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 10:33pm]
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