The rapid and possibly irreversible change affecting the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/culture/2002/12/16/40845.html ' target=_blank>Arctic will have a profound impact on Northern Ireland, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
The warning comes in a new report prepared for the eight nations which surround the region.
The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment said ocean ice could have disappeared in summers in 50 years time, reports BBC News.
The icecap has shrunk by 15% to 20% in the past 30 years and the trend is set to accelerate, with the Arctic warming almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet, due to a build-up of heat-trapping gases.
The report found that the changes are likely to harm native communities, &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2002/11/11/39349.html ' target=_blank>wildlife and economic activity, but also highlighted some controversial short-term advantages: oil and gas deposits will be easier to reach, more farming may be possible and shortcut trans-Arctic shipping lanes may open, shortening the sea journey between the UK and Japan by up to 12 days.