BEIJING, Dec. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- A recent climate study using computer models indicates that if greenhouse gases continue to be released at their current rate, most of the Arctic basin will be ice free in September by 2040.

And winter ice, now about 12 feet thick, will be less than 3 feet thick.

The most recent study by scientists from The National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo., disputes a previous study that predicted the region will be free of summer ice by 2060, and another that forecasts ice until 2105.

The rapid meltdown, caused by global warming, will speed up the heating of the oceans, according to the latest study.

"As the ice retreats, the ocean transports more heat to the Arctic and the open water absorbs more sunlight, further accelerating the rate of warming and leading to the loss of more ice," said study lead author, Marika Holland, a scientists from NCAR. "This is a positive feedback loop with dramatic implications for the entire Arctic region."

Plus, ocean circulations -- affected by global warming -- are driving warm ocean currents into the Arctic.

"We have already witnessed major losses in sea ice, but our research suggests that the decrease over the next few decades could be far more dramatic than anything that has happened so far," Holland said. "These changes are surprisingly rapid."

However, the future of the Arctic doesn't have to be so grim: running simulations with less greenhouse gases, the researchers found that the summer sea ice melted at a much slower rate.

"Our research indicates that society can still minimize the impacts on Arctic ice," Holland said.