What’s Happening In The Arctic Is Truly Heartbreaking

greenland melt
The unusual melting event followed several months during which high pressure systems repeatedly parked over Greenland. High pressure generally leads to calm winds and sunny skies, both of which boost temperatures during the all-day sunshine of mid-summer at high latitudes.

[credit provider=”Arctic Report Card 2012″]

A group of 141 scientists unveiled their updated “Arctic Report Card” for 2012 at the American Geophysical Union meeting today, Dec. 5.Drastic changes are occurring to the polar areas of the globe due to changing climate. But, as Jane Lubchenco, of NOAA, said in the press conference announcing the update: “What happens in the arctic doesn’t always stay in the arctic.”

Here are the main findings, from NOAA:

  • The Arctic reached a record low snow extent in June
  • Then, record low sea ice extent occurred in September. When this sea ice grows back it grows back thinner and melts easier the following year.
  • Growing season length is increasing along with tundra greenness and above-ground biomass.
  • Below the tundra, record high permafrost temperatures occurred in 18 of 20 sensors in northernmost Alaska. The two that didn’t reach records were the same as last year, when they did set records.
  • The Greenland ice sheet is melting for longer periods of time every year, and a rare, nearly ice sheet-wide melt event occurred in July.
  • Massive phytoplankton blooms below summer sea ice suggest previous estimates of ocean primary productivity might be 10 times too low.
  • Arctic fox is close to extinction in and vulnerable to further changes in the lemming cycle and the encroaching Red fox.
  • Severe weather events included extreme cold and snowfall in Eurasia, and two major storms with deep central pressure and strong winds offshore of western and northern Alaska.

The full report card, which consists of 20 papers on all different aspects of changes in the arctic, can be accessed online. A summary is below: