Dear Polar Discovery,
How can we "forsee" that the ice caps will melt? My class has been following your site every day in anticipation and excitment of new science and we are worried about our aniimal friends on wonderful planet Earth.
—Ian M. Duxbury, MA
Researchers have observed that portions of the ice cap over land are breaking off and falling into the ocean at a much more rapid rate than a few decades ago. Over the Arctic, they have observed that the area of the ocean covered by sea ice during the summer has been getting smaller, with the least ice observed so far in 2005. Researchers also use modeling studies to predict the future state of the ice systems. For example, a recent modeling study predicted that the Arctic will have no sea ice in the summer by around 2040.
Modeling studies use mathematical equations to describe the physical mechanisms that work together to produce the ocean currents and ocean temperature and the area covered by sea ice (as well as other things).
One thing it is important to remember is that even if there is no sea ice in the summer, the Arctic will still have sea ice during the winter.