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Expert: Arctic polar cap may disappear this summer
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15:32, March 01, 2008

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The polar cap in the Arctic may well disappear this summer due to the global warming, Dr. Olav Orheim, head of the Norwegian International Polar Year Secretariat, said on Friday.

The shrinking of the Arctic ice cap has been astonishing, Orheim said in an interview with Xinhua.

"Ice sheet hit the historical low of 3 million square km duringthe hottest weeks last summer, while it covered 7.5 million squarekm on average before the year 2000, " he said.

"If Norway's average temperature this year equals that in 2007,the ice cap in the Arctic will all melt away, which is highly possible judging from current conditions," Orheim said.

According to a UN report last year, the world's average temperature could rise by as much as 6 degrees centigrade by the end of the century, causing serious harm to ecosystems worldwide.

Human activity has been the primary driver of the observed changes in climate. Emissions of the key greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere resultin the greenhouse effect.

Shrinking ice cap in the Arctic Ocean even produced a new sea route from the Bering Strait to Oslo last summer, said Orheim. Maritime enterprises in some industrial nations such as the UnitedStates and Britain have started mulling on how to use it to cut cost over the past six months, he added.

"We are deeply concerned for the situation," he said, adding that any leak from oil tankers will exert irreversible impact on ecological security in the Arctic region.

Even if no such disaster occurs, too much human activities willcause unpredictable results for the vulnerable ecological environment in the region, Orheim said.
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