The head of the largest climate change study ever undertaken in Canada says the Arctic sea ice is thinning faster than expected.
The Canadian Coast Guard ship Amundsen remained mobile all winter during the Arctic Ocean for the Circumpolar Flaw Lead study. (Emily Chung/CBC)
"It's happening much faster than our most pessimistic projections," said University of Manitoba Prof. David Barber, the lead investigator of the Circumpolar Flaw Lead study. A flaw lead is the term for open water between pack ice and coastal ice.
The study aboard the Canadian Coast Guard research ship Amundsen began in July 2007 and involved 370 scientists from around the world.
It was the first time a research vessel had ever remained mobile in open water in the Far North.
Barber called the expedition climate scientists' "first opportunity to look at what the Arctic Ocean looks like in the middle of winter."
They found that Arctic sea ice is disappearing faster than scientists expected.
"We're seeing it happen more quickly than our model thought [it] would happen," said Barber.
Warning for the south
"It's an early indicator of what we can expect to happen further south," Barber said at a news conference in Winnipeg. "We can expect things to happen faster here, too."
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