The earth is warming — not exactly a news flash. One question that remains is how fast. Data from this summer shows an alarming increase in the rate that sea ice melted in the Arctic. And if ice keeps melting at this rate, the Arctic seas could be ice free in the summer of 2012 – nearly 30 years earlier than prior worst estimates.
It’s actually a simple matter of black and white. Ice (which is white) reflects the sun’s rays and about 80% of the sun’s energy, but the sea (which is dark, almost black) absorbs about 90% of the sun’s energy. Warmer global temperatures means less ice up North, which is then exacerbated by more energy being absorbed by the sea, leading to further melting.