Arctic is warming at twice the rate of anywhere else on Earth

Melting ice in the Arctic.

Arctic warming is setting off changes that affect people and the environment in this fragile region, and has broader effects beyond the Arctic on global security, trade, and climate, a new report reads.


A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that Arctic air temperatures continue to rise at more than twice the rate of global air temperatures, a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification.

Increasing air and sea surface temperatures, declining reflectivity at the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, shrinking spring snow cover on land and summer ice on the ocean, and declining populations and health of some polar bear populations are among the observations released today in the Arctic Report Card 2014.

The changes will have broad effects far beyond the Arctic, the report reads. “This year’s Arctic Report Card shows the importance of international collaboration on long-term observing programs that can provide vital information to inform decisions by citizens, policymakers and industry,” Craig McLean, acting assistant administrator for the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, said during a press conference on Wednesday.

The Arctic Report Card is an annual update provided since 2006 that summarizes changing conditions in the Arctic. Some 63 authors from 13 countries contributed to the report.

According to the report the snow cover across the Arctic during spring of 2014 was below the long-term mean of 1981-2010, with a new record low set in April for Eurasia. Snow disappeared three to four weeks earlier than normal in western Russia and Scandinavia.

The extent of sea ice in September 2014 was the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. At the time of maximum ice extent in March 2014, there had been a modest increase in ice thickness and age relative to the same time in 2013. 10 percent of the ice pack is made up of the oldest, thickest ice. In 1988 this share was 26 percent.

As sea ice retreats in summer, sea surface temperature in all the seas of the Arctic Ocean is increasing, especially in the Chukchi Sea and Laptev Sea. The surface temperature in the Barents Sea north of Norway, was however lower than it was in 2013 but close to the 1982-2010 average.