Only a few people in the world know ice better than Peter Wadhams. A professor of Ocean Physics at Cambridge, Peter Wadhams is a world authority on sea ice. His book ‘A Farewell to Ice’ is a report from the Arctic, and the consequences of the loss of the summer sea ice. It is also a personal history of a scientist and his extraordinary work in the polar regions in the past 35+ years.
Peter Wadhams believes the Arctic has reached a tipping point, that is a point at which a certain system that has been stressed beyond a certain level does not return to its original state when that stress is removed. He predicts that Arctic will be be ice free in the next few years and that would have a series of disastrous consequences for the whole planet.
The retreat of the summer sea ice in the Arctic is important because the loss of sea ice is changing the global albedo (the reflected sunlight). A vast area will change from white (ice) to blue (sea), therefore less energy will be reflected back into space. It means that the global warming will increase.
The darker ocean will absorb more energy which warms the water which melts more ice, which further warms the ocean, which melts more ice, in a spiraling feedback loop.