Greener Arctic ‘warming rapidly’ says US agency

This year’s ice melt was slower than last year due to cooler temperatures, but NOAA says North Pole continues to heat

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The Arctic is experiencing rapid changes on land and at sea due to rising global temperatures, says the US agency tasked with monitoring the region.

The extreme ice melt witnessed on Greenland and the Arctic ocean in 2012 has not been repeated due to cooler weather, but the long term warming trend remains steady, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Its annual Arctic Report Card reveals new species of fish are heading to the Arctic’s cooler waters, while vegetation levels are increasing on the tundra, reflecting a growing season that has increased by nine days since 1982.

“The relatively cool year in some parts of the Arctic does little to offset the long-term trend of the last 30 years,” said NOAA’s David Kennedy in a statement.

“The Arctic is warming rapidly, becoming greener and experiencing a variety of changes, affecting people, the physical environment, and marine and land ecosystems.”

Arctic Report Card Highlights:

-Extent of sea ice in September 2013 was the sixth lowest since observations began in 1979. The seven lowest recorded sea ice extents have occurred in the last seven years.

-Melting occurred across as much as 44% of the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, close to the long-term average but much smaller than the record 97% in 2012.

-2013 was the sixth warmest year observed in the Arctic since the start of the 20th century (see NOAA graph below).


-New fish species reported, and northward migration into the Arctic of some fish such as Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic cod, capelin, eelpout, sculpin and salmonids.

-Early retreat of sea ice cover and increased solar heating responsible for sea surface temperatures, 7°F higher than the long-term average of 1982-2006 in the Barents and Kara Seas.

-Central Alaska experienced its coldest April since 1924 while Fairbanks, just below the Arctic Circle in Alaska, experienced a record 36 days with temperatures at or exceeding 80°F.

-Snow extent in May and June across the Northern Hemisphere (when snow is mainly located over the Arctic) was below average in 2013. The North American snow cover during this period was the fourth lowest on record. A new record low was reached in May over Eurasia.

-Black carbon (soot) originating from outside the Arctic has decreased by 55% since the early 1990s, primarily due to economic collapse in the former Soviet Union

To view NOAA’s full report visit the Arctic Report Card website

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