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The Arctic sea ice is the ice that is floating on the Arctic Ocean. In recent decades, this pack ice has been disappearing very rapidly. So the question arises when the Arctic sea ice will be completely gone. DIRK NOTZ has examined this using the Arctic summer sea ice in September as example. As he explains in this video, his research group combined satellite observations with model simulations and found a clear linear correlation between the loss of Arctic sea ice and carbon dioxide emissions. For each ton of CO2 we emit, we make about three square meters of Arctic sea ice disappear. From this linear relationship the researchers could extrapolate the amount of carbon dioxide that can still be emitted before the Arctic sea ice is completely gone in summers. For the first time, these findings present very intuitive numbers that make clear the impact every individual has on the global warming.


Dirk Notz is Head of the Max Planck Research Group ‘Sea Ice in the Earth System’ at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. Furthermore, he is Adjunct Associate Professor of Physical Oceanography at the University Centre Svalbard in Norway. His research interests, among other topics, include the representation of sea ice in climate models, air-ice-sea interaction and physical processes in sea ice. He is Council Member of the International Glaciological Society and Associate Editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research (Oceans) as well as Editor of The Cryosphere. In 2017, he won an idw Award for Science Communication.


Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

The Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) is an internationally renowned institute for climate research in Hamburg, Germany.

Our scientists develop advanced models of the Earth system, perform targeted observations, and advance theoretical concepts to support the institute´s chosen mission: 'To understand Earth's changing climate'. The MPI-M comprises two departments: The Atmosphere in the Earth System and The Ocean in the Earth System. We run an international PhD program together with the University of Hamburg and host independent research groups. The institute was founded in 1975 and is part of the Max Planck Society.

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Original publication

Observed Arctic Sea-Ice Loss Directly Follows Anthropogenic CO2 Emission

Notz Dirk and Stroeve Julienne
Published in 2016