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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Arctic Report Card

Arctic Report Card

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Wednesday, December 12, 2018/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, sustainability, environment, climate change

                           Arctic Temperature Anomalies, October 2017 to September 2018 (credit: NOAA)

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has just released its 2018 Arctic Report Card. The annual report makes for some dramatic and disturbing reading on the accelerating changes underway on the polar region from continuing impacts of a warming climate. According to NOAA:

the effects of persistent Arctic warming continue to mount. Warming of the Arctic atmosphere and ocean are driving broad changes in the environmental system in predicted and, also, unexpected ways. New threats are taking form and highlight the level of uncertainty in the breadth of environmental change yet to come.

Several of NOAA's important findings include:

  • Surface air temperatures continued to warm at twice the rate relative to the rest of the globe. Arctic air temperatures for the past 5 years (2014-18) exceeded all previous records since 1900;
  • In the Arctic's terrestrial landscape systems, atmospheric warming continued to drive broad, long-term trends in declining snow cover, melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and lake ice, increasing summertime river discharge, and the expansion and greening of tundra vegetation;
  • Despite increase of vegetation available for grazing, populations of caribou and wild reindeer herds across the tundra have declined by nearly 50% over the last 2 decades;
  • Warming Arctic Ocean conditions are coinciding with an expansion of harmful toxic algal blooms there and threatening food sources; and
  • Microplastic contamination is on the rise in the Arctic and poses a threat to seabirds and other marine life that can ingest the debris.

The oceanic and atmospheric science agency created a short video to highlight some of this year's report findings:

Unless you live in Siberia, Alaska, or Greenland, the Arctic may seem very far removed from your life. However, as the climate and general environmentla regulator for much of the northern hemisphere, "what happens in the Arctic, doesn't stay in the Arctic". NOAA's latest 'report card' on the Arctic should be required reading from classrooms to political corridors.



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