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Human CO2 emissions put Arctic on track to be ice-free by 2050

For each metric ton of carbon dioxide released, a queen mattress‒sized chunk of sea ice vanishes

By
2:00pm, November 3, 2016
sea ice

THIN ICE  Arctic sea ice could vanish sooner than previously thought, according to new calculations of carbon dioxide’s direct ice-melting effects.

The average American’s carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for shrinking Arctic sea ice by nearly 50 square meters each year.

That’s the implication of a new study that finds that each additional metric ton of CO₂ released into the atmosphere directly results in a 3-square-meter loss of sea ice cover at summer’s end — comparable to losing a chunk of ice with a footprint a bit smaller than a two-seat Smart car.

“For the first time now, it is possible to grasp how each one of us contributes to tangible consequences for the global climate system,” says study coauthor Dirk Notz, a climate scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg.

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