Scientists have warned that the Arctic could be ice free within a decade. The prediction is based upon Nasa figures which show an increase in winter sea ice of just 5.85 million square miles, the fifth lowest on record. Studies also show that the ice is thinner than ever and that the volume of ice is probably the lowest it has ever been. All of these things mean that the sea ice is less likely to survive the summer and that the Arctic Ocean could be free of ice as early as 2013, although it is more likely to happen between 2020 and 2040. Based on this it appears that change is coming to the Arctic much earlier than expected which is not only bad news for the polar bears and humans that rely on the ice for hunting but also for weather patterns around the world which are likely to be triggered by atmospheric changes.