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A new NOAA-sponsored report shows that air temperature in 2015 across the Arctic was well above average with temperature anomalies over land more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit above average, the highest since records began in 1900. Increasing air and sea surface temperatures, decreasing sea ice extent and Greenland ice sheet mass, and changing behavior of fish and walrus are among key observations released today in the Arctic Report Card 2015.
“Now in its 10th year, the Arctic Report Card is a key tool to understanding changes in the Arctic and how those changes may affect communities, businesses, and people around the world,” said NOAA Chief Scientist Dr. Rick Spinrad, during a press conference today at the annual American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. “The Arctic is warming twice as fast as other parts of the planet, which has ramifications for global security, climate, commerce, and trade. This year’s report shows the importance of international collaboration on sustained, long-term observing programs that provide insights to inform decisions by citizens, policymakers, and industry.”
Some 70 authors from 11 countries, including U.S. federal agencies and academics, contributed to this annual peer-reviewed report, guided by an editorial team from the Office of Naval Research, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, and NOAA. This year’s report features updates on key indicators, as well as new reports on the status of walrus, the northward movement of fishes, increasing river discharge into the Arctic Ocean, and the importance of community-based monitoring. Major findings of this year’s report include:
Greenland ice sheet: For the first time since the exceptional melt of 2012, significant melting (more than 50 percent of the area) occurred on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet in 2015. Melt season was 30 to 40 days longer than average in western, northwestern and northeastern Greenland, but was close to or below average elsewhere on the ice sheet. Between the end of the 2014 and 2015 melt seasons, 22 of 45 of the widest and fastest flowing glaciers terminating in the ocean had retreated, but the advance of 9 relatively wide glaciers resulted in a low annual net loss of 6.4 square miles (16.5 square kilometers).
This year’s report also includes guest essays that provide insight on how fish, walrus, and Arctic rivers are responding to changes in the warmer environment:
Subarctic fish: Scientists from Norway and Russia drew on annual ecosystem surveys from the Barents Sea from 2004 to 2013 to show a northward movement of subarctic fish species such as cod, beaked redfish and long rough dab, into Arctic waters. These predators may pose potential problems for smaller Arctic fish that must now face these new warmer-water predators.
In 2006, NOAA’s Climate Program Office introduced the State of the Arctic Report which established a baseline of conditions at the beginning of the 21st century. It is updated annually as the Arctic Report Card to document the often-quickly changing conditions in the Arctic. To view this year’s report, visithttp://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/.
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our other social media channels.