REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- Get ready to order those beach umbrellas in Barrow. One of the leading authorities on the physics of northern seas is predicting an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2020.
That's about two decades sooner than various models for climatic warming have indicated the Arctic might fully open.
"No models here," Peter Wadhams, professor of applied mathematics and theoretical physics at the University of Cambridge in England, told the Arctic Circle Assembly on Sunday. "This is data."
Wadhams has access to data not only on the extent of ice covering the Arctic, but on the thickness of that ice. The latter comes from submarines that have been beneath the ice collecting measurements every year since 1979.
This data shows ice volume "is accelerating downward," Wadhams said. "There doesn't seem to be anything to stop it from going down to zero.