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Arctic sea ice could be gone entirely in just 23 years

The Arctic Circle could be free of all sea ice by the summer of 2040, an entire 30 years sooner than climate scientists had initially expected, The Economist reports. That is just 23 years from now.

The new models are found in the report "Snow, Water, Ice, Permafrost in the Arctic," or SWIPA, which is authored by eight countries who have territory in the Arctic Circle as well as observers, including China and India. The thickness of ice recorded in the Arctic Ocean has declined 65 percent between 1975 and 2012, with record lows recorded this March.

While the melting sea ice opens up a northern sea route for trade, "the expected shipping boom has not materialized," The Economist writes. Instead, "Nothing … looms larger than the potential for environmental calamity."