Scientists say the Arctic ice is melting much faster than they predicted. ((CBC News))

Global warming and changing winds may mean Santa Claus is going to need a new summer home sooner than expected.

Scientists now project that the North Pole and the entire Arctic Ocean could be ice-free during the summer months as early as 2015.

The speed at which the polar ice cap has been melting has forced scientists to revise earlier predictions, said Benoit Beauchamp, executive director of the Arctic Institute of North America at the University of Calgary.

Beauchamp told CBC News that "2007 and 2008 have been record years in terms of ice melting in the Arctic."

"Although it might come back a bit more in 2009, the trend is downward and it's actually much faster than what is predicted by these computer models," he said.

Besides global warming, changing wind systems are forcing more ice out of the Arctic Ocean between Greenland and Iceland, adding to the declining ice cap, he said.

While the rate at which the polar ice cap is shrinking in the summer seems to be accelerating, he said, the ocean will still remain frozen over in the winter months.