High Levels of Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere Could Lead to Ice-free Arctic During Summer
A new study revealed that the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could result to an ice-free Arctic ocean during the summer months.
The study, published in the journal Science, showed a direct correlation between every metric ton of carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere and the amount of sea ice being lost. Based in this linear relationship between average monthly sea ice abundance and cumulative carbon dioxide emission, the researchers predicted that the Arctic would experience ice-free summer in 30 years.
"Our study now provides individuals with the sense that their own individual actions make a difference," said lead author Dirk Notz, of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany, in a report from Christian Science Monitor. "If I decide to drive my car a little less or to buy a car that uses less fuel, for example, all these little actions will make a difference for sea ice."
For the study, the researchers analyzed data from Hadley Centre Sea Ice and Sea Surface Temperature and cumulative carbon dioxide emissions for a roughly 30-year period. Their analysis revealed that every metric ton of carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere, three meters squared, or 32 square feet, of sea ice in the Arctic is lost. The researchers noted that a metric ton of carbon dioxide is equivalent of one round-trip flight from New York to Europe, or a 2,500 mile car ride.
At present, the researchers estimate that an average America emits about 20 tons of carbon of carbon dioxide every year, which translates into about 600 square feet of sea ice melting in the Arctic in the summer. The sea ice in the Arctic can recover every winter. However, recent studies showed that the oldest and thickest sea ice has either melted or thinned away due to warming summers.
With their findings, researchers encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible. Furthermore, the enforcement of the Paris Agreement that binds countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent the temperature from rising will make a lot of difference in the Arctic.