Arctic ice cap is melting fast, say scientists

The Arctic ice cap has shriveled to its smallest size in a century; at this rate of shrinkage, the summer cap may vanish by 2060. Researchers who compiled the data say the process appears to have become self-sustaining: As ice melts, there’s more water, which absorbs more solar radiation (white ice reflects better), thus creating more heat, thus making it harder for ice to re-form. The Arctic is “becoming a profoundly different place than we grew up thinking about,” said Mark Serreze of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, with overall temperatures rising about twice as fast as in other parts of the world. Anthropogenic global warming is widely seen as the culprit. In case we weren’t yet fully freaked out, other scientists speculate that melting glaciers and ice sheets may unleash ancient illnesses to which modern humans have no resistance, via viruses, bacteria, and fungi previously unknown. As the French say, l’eek!