North Pole ice cap is melting, say scientists

THE North Pole is melting, top British and US scientists have discovered. They predict that the year-round polar ice cap will disappear entirely in the next century, due to global warming.

New research from the first ever sea voyage across the Pole - made by icebreakers - to be published later this year, shows that a layer of water under the ice is warming up astonishingly fast.

Scientists suspect that the rapid rise in temperature is connected to a disruption of currents in the North Atlantic reported in the Independent on Sunday earlier this year. The disruption - which follows the failure of the "Odden Feature" in the Greenland Sea for the third year in succession - threatens to affect the Gulf stream.

Computer modelling of the likely progress of global warming at the Meteorological Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Research and Prediction forecasts that the Arctic will warm up faster than anywhere else on earth - by between 6C and 8C over the next century.

Dr Peter Wadhams, Co-ordinator of the European Commission's Sub-Polar Ocean Programme, says that this would be enough to melt the now-permanent ice. "We would see the sea ice cap going completely in the summer, but remaining in the winter," he said.

New research, to be published later this year by Professor Knut Aagaard of the University of Washington in Seattle, comes from a month-long 2,300- mile voyage through the polar ice from Alaska to Iceland in 1994 by two icebreakers, the Polar Sea from the US and Canada's Louis St-Laurent. When they reached the Pole in August they unexpectedly met a Russian icebreaker carrying 75 schoolchildren who had won a competition. The three ships completed the voyage together.

Measurements taken on the journey revealed "a large overall warming" of a layer of water some 200 metres below the ice cap. Its temperature appears to have jumped by 1C in just five years.

Other research shows that water flowing up the Norwegian coast into the Arctic - easily tracked because it is contaminated with radioactive pollution from Sellafield - has also grown warmer recently. Meanwhile the amount of ice drifting down from the Arctic to the Greenland Sea has fallen by nearly 40 per cent.

Dr Wadhams, who works at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, attributes the increasing temperatures to global warming and says they are likely to speed up the melting of the ice. This, in itself, is unlikely to cause an increase in sea level rise, as floating ice displaces water and the ice caps on land masses like Greenland will take much longer to melt.

Dr Wadhams says that the changes in the Arctic are likely to be connected to the disappearance of the Odden Feature, where water is sucked down from the surface to the sea bed, feeding a vast deep current which links all of the world's oceans. He says: "These two extremely significant phenomena have suddenly occurred in the last five years. They may well be connected. This has made the Arctic the focus of attention in marine science."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
music
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes