Arctic scientist Julienne Stroeve has seen the effects of greenhouse gases first hand. She has some long-term ideas on how to reduce them as well as some very simple short-term ones.Arctic ice researcher Julienne Stroeve “thinks overtime” about how much sea ice she melts each time she flies between her duties at University College London in the UK, and her home state of Colorado in the US.
Stroeve knows better than most how heat-trapping greenhouse gases are irrevocably changing the Arctic.
In the summer of 2012, she was part of an Arctic research expedition which witnessed up close sea ice dropping to the lowest extent ever measured — a record that still stands five years later.
Her concerns have only grown as she studies the ice decline and how it will affect plankton, the base of the ocean food chain, as well as climate extremes, such as rain-on-snow events that make it harder for reindeer to survive the winter.
“I fly a lot to meetings around the world, and while there are more web meetings being held, sometimes meeting face-to-face is still best,” she said. “I would love to see an option with airlines that we would increase our ticket price to offset our carbon footprint.”
Stroeve says she does her part by commuting on public transport but adds that flying is one of the worst environmental transgressions and the best long-term solution would be to develop a renewable energy source for air travel.
Eating a vegetarian diet has, Stroeve says, helped further reduce her carbon footprint. She believes conference organizers should switch to serving vegetarian food, too.
“It’s not a big deal not to eat meat for a day or a week of meetings, and that can dramatically reduce our carbon footprints,” she said.
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To signal their commitment to climate action, research institutions and universities should switch to renewable energy, said Stroeve. Her own primary research base, the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, has already become a green data center.
The NSIDC provides a steady stream of climate data to researchers around the world. Cooling the center’s computer room alone requires 300,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year. That’s enough to power 34 homes. A recent redesign cut energy use by 90 percent, and the center also installed rooftop solar panels.