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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Arctic Report Card, 2019

Arctic Report Card, 2019

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, December 10, 2019/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, photography, marine life, sustainability, environment, climate change

                                                    Melting Arctic sea ice, May 2019 (credit: NOAA)

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), released their Arctic Report Card for 2019. The annual report details original, peer-reviewed, observations and analysis for a region currently undergoing rapid environmental alterations. It was compiled by scientists from 12 countries and released at the American Geophysical Union (the AGU) fall meetings in California. Speaking about the NOAA findings, retired Navy Adm. Timothy Gallaudet said:

“The speed and trajectory of the changes sweeping the Arctic, many occurring faster than we anticipated, makes NOAA’s continued investment in Arctic research and activities all the more important. We need the best scientific information to support our efforts to better understand how environmental change is affecting the Arctic and weather around the globe, to support adaptation and economic opportunities in the region, and to sustain an ocean-based Blue Economy.”

One report statistic shows Greenland losing ~267billion metric tons of ice/yr, contributing ~0.7mm/yr to global sea-level rise.

                    Greenland ice loss, April 2002-September 2019 (credit: NOAA)

Additional findings of NOAA's findings include:

Arctic surface air temperatures at 60°N for October 2018 to August 2019 were the 2nd warmest since 1900 and are driving environmental changes to regional ecosystems and communities; North American Arctic snow cover in May 2019 was the 5th lowest in 53 years of record keeping with June snow cover was the 3rd lowest; tundra greening continues increasing on the North Slope of Alaska, in mainland Canada, and the Russian Far East; thawing permafrost could be releasing an estimated 300-600 million tons of carbon/year into the atmosphere; sea ice extent in summer 2019 tied with 2007 and 2016 was the 2nd lowest since satellite observations began in 1979 and ice thickness is decreasing; summer sea surface temperatures were 1-7°C warmer than 1982-2010 averages in the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Laptev Seas, and Baffin Bay; wildlife populations are showing signs of stress with breeding populations of the Canadian Ivory Gull declining by 70% since the 1980s.

It might be said that "what happens in the Arctic, doesn't stay in the Arctic". The changes being driven by rapid climate change will affect us all in a myriad of known and unknown ways. The 2019 Arctic Report Card is available here.

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