You might want to rethink any plans for long-haul summer destinations, as we now have concrete evidence of our individual impact on Arctic sea melt, and we should all feel terrible.
The new study, which highlights individual accountability for climate change more than ever before, confirmed that for each tonne of carbon dioxide that a human emits, three-square metres of Arctic summer ice disappears.
Or, in real terms, each seat on a return flight from London to San Francisco causes about five square metres of Arctic sea ice to melt.
Lead author Julienne Stroeve said: “So far, climate change has often felt like a rather abstract notion. Our results allow us to overcome this perception.”
The shocking findings, published in the Science journal, also found that the two degrees target set in the most recent UN Climate Conference will not allow Arctic summer sea ice to survive.
Over the past forty years, the Arctic ice coverage in summer months has shrunk by more than 50% and climate models had predicted the remaining half will be gone by 2050.
Now, the researchers said that these findings indicate that current climate models are underestimating the potential loss of ice, and therefore might not be suitable to quantify what is coming in the future.
“The ice just melts too slowly in the models because their Arctic warming is too weak,” said Stroeve.
Instead Stroeve and her colleagues estimate that it will only take another 1000 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide to ensure sea ice will be permanently gone through out the month of September.
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