Climate Change or Global Warming refers to the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near surface air and oceans since the mid 20th century.
Climate Change is, in the eyes of many, the key issue in the Arctic and one of the key issues faced by human kind as a whole. Climate change has been highly disputed and there are those who maintain that human induced climate change does not exist and the swift warming occurring over the two last centuries is a part of the earth's natural cycle.
Although most scientists agree on that the globe is becoming warmer, predictions on how rapidly Arctic ice will retreat often varies greatly amongst them.
The schedule is however not as important as the results of this development and the possibility of the ice-free Arctic to become a lucrative shipping route.