About 38,000 square miles of Arctic sea ice melts every year, and it’s not going to stop. So says a new study by Mark Serreze of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Arctic temperatures have risen 2º to 7º Fahrenheit since the 1970s. By 2040, ice-free Arctic summers will allow ships to sail directly from one side of the world to the other.
The Arctic may seem far away, but the effects of its ice loss will be felt close to home. (Particularly if home is Venice.) Serreze says that the loss of ice up north will mean less precipitation in the Western United States. California could get drier and the force of Arctic cold fronts sweeping in from Canada will be blunted, meaning less powder for slopes in Aspen and Vail. Tourist-centric Aspen is already well-aware of its problem; in the past 50 years, Aspen winters have been shortened by 28 days. One can only hope Colorado, unlike Arizona, won’t resort to making its own snow out of recycled sewage.