A new study indicates that you have no idea what kind of impact your car is having on the world around you.
Sea ice is rapidly disappearing in the Arctic Ocean, and at this rate, it may be completely gone by 2050, which is bad news for polar bears. Who’s to blame? We all are, or everyone who drives their cars at least. A new study calculates that for every metric ton of carbon dioxide we emit, three square meters of summer sea ice in the Arctic vaporizes.
And those emissions add up over time. With 2,433 miles of driving, about the distance of a cross-country trip, that converts into a metric ton of CO2 emissions. If you drive just 75 miles, that will melt a square foot of ice.
Researchers published a paper Thursday in the journal Science detailing these new calculations, which put into real terms just what kind of damage we are doing to the environment by driving cars powered by fossil fuels.
“Arctic sea ice is retreating rapidly, raising prospects of a future ice-free Arctic Ocean during summer,” the paper’s abstract states. “Since climate-model simulations of the sea-ice loss differ substantially, we here use a robust linear relationship between monthly-mean September sea-ice area and cumulative CO2 emissions to infer the future evolution of Arctic summer sea ice directly from the observational record. The observed linear relationship implies a sustained loss of 3 ± 0.3 m2 of September sea-ice area per metric ton of CO2 emission. Based on this sensitivity, Arctic sea-ice will be lost throughout September for an additional 1000 Gt of CO2 emissions. Most models show a lower sensitivity, which is possibly linked to an underestimation of the modeled increase in incoming longwave radiation and of the modeled Transient Climate Response.”
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