Environment – A New York-Paris flight melts 3m2 of pack ice

A report establishes a direct link between the fumes of carbon dioxide and the shrinking of ice.

Prepared by German and American scientists, this report concludes that the North Pole would be free of ice in the mid-2040s.


Researchers have determined that for every tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted into the atmosphere, the resulting warming causes three square meters of arctic ice to melt. This study, published Thursday in the journal Science, seeks to raise public awareness of individual responsibility for climate change.

It also aims to correct current climate models, which according to several studies underestimate the loss of ice.

A tonne of CO2 represents for a passenger a flight between New York and a European destination, or a journey of 4000 km by car, specifies Dirk Notz, a climatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, one of the two co -authors of the study.


“Climate change is often seen as an abstract notion and our study is helping to change that perception,” adds Julienne Stroeve of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Colorado and professor of glaciology at University College London.

This year the extent of ice in the Arctic Ocean reached an annual minimum of 4.14 million km2, the second smallest area since the start of satellite observations in 1979, very close to the 2007 record.

The rapid retreat of the Arctic sea ice is one of the most direct indicators of global warming, these researchers note.

Over the past 40 years, Arctic ice has halved in summer, and could disappear entirely during that season by mid-century without a rapid reduction in CO2 emissions.

Direct observations

To correct for the underestimation of the ice melt in the models and to obtain more accurate projections on the future evolution of the sea ice, these researchers based on direct observations between 1953 and 1978 from the Hadley Center for Ice and Temperature. ocean data from the UK Met Office and data collected between 1979 and 2015 via satellite from the American Snow and Ice Center (NSIDC).

The authors concluded that there was a direct correlation between CO2 emissions and the area of ​​the Arctic sea ice in summer.

This new study has determined that limiting the rise in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era is not sufficient to allow arctic ice to survive in summer, because such warming would correspond to an increase of more than one trillion tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2100.

To avoid the scenario of a complete disappearance of the sea ice during the hottest season, the rise in mercury should be capped at 1.5 ° C, as put forward in the COP21 agreement in Paris at the end of 2015.


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