"The ice melt of 2007 seemed to confirm Warwick’s fears. Reports since then claim the Arctic ice could be gone by 2013."
by William Marsden
For most people, news of the ice melt was little more than a distant curiosity. But for climate scientists it was the scariest thing they had seen yet, and what’s more it had caught them completely by surprise.
In the summer of 2007, a large portion of Arctic Sea ice – about 40 per cent – simply vanished. That wasn’t supposed to happen. At least not yet. As recent as 2004, scientists had predicted it would take another 50 to 100 years for that much ice to melt. Yet here it was happening today.
It raised the question: Had global warming suddenly pressed the gas pedal to the floor? If so, the world was in for quite a climate ride – dramatic, jarring changes in climate much sooner than expected. Climate scientists were deeply worried.
“It really caught the scientific community by surprise,” Professor James Ford, a McGill University geographer and Arctic expert recalled. “The Arctic system is close to crossing the threshold beyond which we will get dramatic changes in climate.”
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