A group of federal scientists have predicted that the Arctic Ocean summer ice may melt completely within the next decade.

The rapid melting of ice in the Arctic Ocean has been a cause of growing concern. Previous studies have stated that the Arctic Ocean summer ice would melt away completely by 2050. However, a new study by James Overland of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration finds the occurrence may take place sooner than previously predicted. According to the findings of his new study, the Arctic Ocean summer ice may melt completely within the next decade, or the next two decades at the maximum.

For the study, scientists used three methods of projecting ice cover in the future. Co-author Muyin Wang of NOAA's Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean stated that all of these three methods suggested that Earth would experience sea-ice-free summers in the Arctic way before 2050. The findings of the study predicted ice-free summers from 2020 to a little after 2040.

"This paper should not be used as an argument against further modeling, but quite the opposite," the study said. "It is reasonable to conclude Arctic sea ice loss is very likely to occur in the first rather than the second half of the 21st century, with a possibility of loss within a decade or two."

According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, the extent of Arctic Ocean ice increases and decreases in the winter and summer respectively. Recently in March, it reached its maximum winter, which was measured to be about 5.81 million square miles. This number is well below the average measurement seen in previous years.

The effects of complete melting of Arctic Ocean summer ice could be damaging to all living creatures in the Arctic region, ranging from fish to plankton to polar bears.