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Arctic Yearbook 2012
The Future of Arctic Shipping Along the Transpolar Sea Route
observational data with climate models, estimates that the Arctic will be nearly ice free at the end of
summer in three or four decades (Wang & Overland, 2009).
The latest findings suggest that Arctic sea ice may have indeed entered into a new state of low ice
cover, which “is distinct from the normal state of seasonal sea ice variation” (Livina & Lenton, 2012:
1). According to Tim Lenton at the University of Exeter, Arctic ice has crossed a tipping point,
which could soon make ice-free summers an annual feature across most of the Arctic Ocean (as cited
in Pearce, 2012). His findings appear to confirm an earlier study stating that Arctic ice is shrinking so
rapidly that it may vanish altogether in as little as four years time (Collins, 2011).
Figure 5 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Extent Observations 1970-2007 and Forecasts 2030-2100
Author’s own work. Adapted from Wunderground (2012). Arctic sea ice decline. Retrieved (05.18.12) from, using data from the NOAA GFDL model. Yearly extent
represents an average 80% sea ice concentration.