Ice-Free Arctic by 2054

Researchers narrow the range

The Arctic may be ice-free by 2054.     Photo: U.S. Geological Survey/Flickr

An ice-free Arctic may become the reality by 2054, says a newly released study by researchers at the State University of New York at Albany. While previous reports have pegged the climate-change milestone to anywhere between 2015-2100, by using two approaches to model conditions, study leader Jiping Liu was able to significantly narrow the time-frame.

Some experts find the precision of Liu's estimate to be "almost comical," but the range is "pretty typical of these models," Mark Serreze, an expert on Arctic sea ice at the National Snow and Ice Data Center told NBC News.

Compared to Liu, Serreze thinks the Arctic will become ice-free by 2030, but says there is an element of unpredictability to the reports. "Because what we're seeing here is that the sea ice cover continues to surprise us."

Changing conditions in the Arctic threaten polar bear and seal habitats and are projected to dramatically shift global climate patterns.

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