Polar News

Featured Video: NOAA’s Arctic Report Card

The Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades.

Despite relatively cool summer temperatures, observations in 2017 continue to indicate that the Arctic environmental system has reached a 'new normal', characterized by long-term losses in the extent and thickness of the sea ice cover, the extent and duration of the winter snow cover and the mass of ice in the Greenland Ice Sheet and Arctic glaciers, and warming sea surface and permafrost temperatures.

Asked why Arctic science, research, and monitoring are important, Dr. W. Russell Callender, Assistant Administrator, National Ocean Service, said, “As multi-year sea ice continues to disappear at a rapid rate, the Arctic is becoming a busier place. Vessel traffic in the area is on the rise. This is leading to new maritime concerns, especially in areas increasingly transited by the offshore oil and gas industry, cruise liners, military craft, tugs and barges, and fishing vessels.

Keeping all of this new ocean traffic moving smoothly is a growing concern for safety's sake. It's also important to the U.S. economy, environment, and national security. That's why NOAA is striving to update Arctic nautical charts, add new tide and current monitoring stations, conduct geodetic surveys in the region, and prepare for potential incidents.

Report Card Highlights:

The sea ice cover continues to be relatively young and thin with older, thicker ice comprising only 21% of the ice cover in 2017 compared to 45% in 1985.

In August 2017, sea surface temperatures in the Barents and Chukchi seas were up to 4° C warmer than average, contributing to a delay in the autumn freeze-up in these regions.

Pronounced increases in ocean primary productivity, at the base of the marine food web, were observed in the Barents and Eurasian Arctic seas from 2003 to 2017.

Pervasive changes in the environment are influencing resource management protocols, including those established for fisheries and wildfires.

The average surface air temperature for the year ending September 2017 is the 2nd warmest since 1900; however, cooler spring and summer temperatures contributed to a rebound in snow cover in the Eurasian Arctic, slower summer sea ice loss, and below-average melt extent for the Greenland ice sheet.

Visit the 2017 Report Card.

Issued annually since 2006, the Arctic Report Card is a timely and peer-reviewed source for clear, reliable and concise environmental information on the current state of different components of the Arctic environmental system relative to historical records.

The Report Card is intended for a wide audience, including scientists, teachers, students, decision-makers and the general public interested in the Arctic environment and science.

ECO Magazine is a marine science publication committed to bringing scientists and professionals the latest ground-breaking research, industry news, and job opportunities from around the world.

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