“With a larger part of the region now first-year ice, it is clearly more vulnerable,” said Professor Peter Wadhams, part of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge which analyzed the data. “The area is now more likely to become open water each summer, bringing forward the potential date when the summer sea ice will be completely gone.”

Wadhams said Wednesday that the Catlin Arctic Survey data supports the new consensus that the Arctic will be ice-free in summer within 20 years, and that much of the decrease will happen within 10 years.