A new study has found that Arctic sea ice could completely disappear by 2035, due to 'significant changes' in the area as a result of global warming.
The international team of researchers used the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre climate model to compare Arctic sea ice conditions during the last interglacial period - which they say was 'a warmer period 130,000-116,000 years before [the] present' - with those of today.
The results were then used to create predictions for what may happen in the future, with the team concluding it is likely there will be no sea ice in the Arctic in just 15 years' time.
They said this is due to strong sunshine during the spring, which creates 'melt ponds' of water that in turn soak up hear from the sun, contributing to the increasing temperatures.
Dr Maria Vittoria Guarino, joint lead author and Earth System Modeller at British Antarctic Survey (BAS), said: "High temperatures in the Arctic have puzzled scientists for decades.
"Unravelling this mystery was technically and scientifically challenging.
"For the first time, we can begin to see how the Arctic became sea ice-free during the last interglacial.
"The advances made in climate modelling means that we can create a more accurate simulation of the Earth's past climate, which, in turn gives us greater confidence in model predictions for the future."
The research has now been published in the journal Nature Climate Change, with the team saying the findings are significant in improving how we predict future changes in sea ice.
Dr Louise Sime, the group head of the Palaeoclimate group and joint lead author at BAS, said: "We know the Arctic is undergoing significant changes as our planet warms.
"By understanding what happened during Earth's last warm period we are in a better position to understand what will happen in the future.
"The prospect of loss of sea-ice by 2035 should really be focusing all our minds on achieving a low-carbon world as soon as humanly feasible."
Dr David Schroeder from University of Reading, who co-led the implementation of the melt pond scheme in the climate model, also added: "This shows just how important sea ice processes like melt ponds are in the Arctic, and why it is crucial that they are incorporated into climate models."
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