Polar Bear
© Reuters

Arctic ice is melting quicker than predicted and may now be close to a "tipping point" when the changes cannot be reversed, a conservation group has claimed.

Satellite monitoring suggests that the ice has shrunk by more than a third since the late 20th century, and the pace at which both Arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet are melting has "severely accelerated".

This could bring about rapid and unstoppable change in natural systems across the world, according to the WWF.

Dr Martin Sommerkorn, a senior climate change adviser for WWF, said: "When you look in detail at the science behind the recent Arctic changes it becomes painfully clear how our understanding of climate impacts lags behind the changes that we are already seeing in the Arctic.

"This is extremely dangerous, as some of these changes have the potential to substantially increase the warming of the Earth, beyond what models currently forecast."