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Iceless Summer In The North Pole? It's Possible 6 To 10 Million Years Ago

Apr 12, 2016 06:38 AM EDT

The North Pole and the Arctic Ocean is known to our generation to be covered with ice. However, recent results of an exploration led by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) shows what appears to be evidence that 6 to 10 million years ago, the Arctic Ocean is iceless during the summer season.

In line with the worldwide drive to find solutions to problems concerning climate change, a team of experts, led by AWI, launched an expedition to the North Pole. They aim to, once and for all, answer the question whether or not the Arctic Ocean is ice-free during the summer 10 million years ago.

Science Daily quoted Prof. Dr. Ruediger Stein, an AWI geologist, saying, "The Arctic sea ice is a very critical and sensitive component in the global climate system. It is, therefore, important to better understand the processes controlling present and past changes in sea ice."

The theory about an iceless North Pole and Artic Ocean has been bugging the scientific community for years. Science Dispatch says that due to the rapid ice melting, some people believe that the North Pole will be iceless in the year 2050. AWI believes that the data could imply a pattern that every couple of million years, an iceless summer in the North Pole occurs. However, this pattern is yet to be confirmed.

In 2014, the team of researchers gathered sample sediments from the area using Germany's research icebreaker, RV Polarstern, as per Science Daily. The said sediments contain marks that serve as indications of temperature changes and conditions they were exposed to millions of years ago. The expedition team managed to take 18 "sediment cores" from Lomonosov Ridge.

Dr. Stein said, "Our data clearly indicate that six to ten million years ago, the North Pole and the entire central Arctic Ocean must, in fact, have been ice-free in the summer."

Even though there's concrete evidence that the North Pole had an iceless summer, the research team believes that this is just the beginning. Dr. Stein said, "In order to fully unravel the great mystery of Arctic climate history over the past 20 to 60 million years, we need much longer, continuous sediment sequences, which can only be obtained by drilling". The team is set to launch another expedition in 2018.

If proven true, how will these new findings affect our lives?

AWI said that results from these expeditions will help them predict future climate behaviors by identifying reliable climate models. Understanding how the climate in the arctic ocean behaves will largely help them in recognizing risks, patterns and solutions to imminent dangers caused by climate change.

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