These new data come as predictions of an ice-free Arctic Sea during the summer get ever closer. Just two years ago, an NSIDC scientist estimated that worrisome event could happen within 20 to 30 years. Last month, Warwick Vincent, director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec, told Reuters, "2013 is starting to look as though it is a lot more reasonable as a prediction."
That forecast, if proven true, would have dire consequences for the polar bear. A 2007 report from the U.S. Geological Survey revealed that a melting of Arctic ice caused by global warming would wipe out two-thirds of the world's polar bear population, estimated at 20,000 to 25,000, and all of Alaska's estimated 4,700 polar bears, by 2050. The polar bear is now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. But we're all threatened as long as the build-up of greenhouse gases renders climate studies and models seemingly obsolete the moment they're released.