Long-term warming and environmental change trends persist in the Arctic in 2013

Though not as extreme as last year, new report by NOAA and partners finds that the Arctic continues to show evidence of a shift to a new warmer, greener state

December 12, 2013

Temperature anomalies for June-August 2013 compared to the 2007-2012 average. Many areas of the Arctic got a reprieve from the record warm of the past 6 summers.

Temperature anomalies for June-August 2013 compared to the 2007-2012 average. Many areas of the Arctic got a reprieve from the record warm of the past 6 summers. Map by NOAA Climate.gov, based on NCEP Reanalysis data from NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory.

Download here / Full gallery (Credit:NOAA)

According to a new report released today by NOAA and its partners, cooler temperatures in the summer of 2013 across the central Arctic Ocean, Greenland and northern Canada moderated the record sea ice loss and extensive melting that the surface of the Greenland ice sheet experienced last year. Yet there continued to be regional extremes, including record low May snow cover in Eurasia and record high summer temperatures in Alaska.

“The Arctic caught a bit of a break in 2013 from the recent string of record-breaking warmth and ice melt of the last decade,” said David M. Kennedy, NOAA’s deputy under secretary for operations, during a press briefing today at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco. “But the relatively cool year in some parts of the Arctic does little to offset the long-term trend of the last 30 years: the Arctic is warming rapidly, becoming greener and experiencing a variety of changes, affecting people, the physical environment, and marine and land ecosystems.”

Kennedy joined other scientists to release the Arctic Report Card 2013, which has, since 2006, summarized changing conditions in the Arctic. One hundred forty-seven authors from 14 countries contributed to the peer-reviewed report. Major findings of this year’s report include:

For the first time, scientists also released new information on marine fishes and black carbon.  Highlights:

“The Arctic Report Card presents strong evidence of widespread, sustained changes that are driving the Arctic environmental system into a new state and we can expect to see continued widespread and sustained change in the Arctic,” said Martin Jeffries, principal editor of the 2013 Report Card, science adviser for the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, and research professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “But we risk not seeing those changes if we don’t sustain and add to our current long-term observing capabilities. Observations are fundamental to Arctic environmental awareness, government and private sector operations, scientific research, and the science-informed decision-making required by the U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic.”

In 2006, NOAA’s Climate Program Office introduced the State of the Arctic Report which established a baseline of conditions at the beginning of the 21st century. It is updated annually as the Arctic Report Card to document the often-quickly changing conditions in the Arctic. To view this year’s report, visit http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/.

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Sea surface temperatures in August 2013 compared to the 1982-2006 average and sea ice extent (areas with 15% or more ice cover, solid white). Arctic boundary waters warmer than average in summer 2013; the Arctic Ocean and adjacent waters are becoming more hospitable to species from lower latitudes.

Sea surface temperatures in August 2013 compared to the 1982-2006 average and sea ice extent (areas with 15% or more ice cover, solid white). Arctic boundary waters warmer than average in summer 2013; the Arctic Ocean and adjacent waters are becoming more hospitable to species from lower latitudes. Map by NOAA Climate.gov, based on data provided by Wendy Ermold and Mike Steele, University of Washington.

Download here / Full gallery (Credit:NOAA)

 

Maximum melt extent on the Greenland Ice Sheet on July 26, 2013 (left), and July 11, 2012 (right), the summer peaks for each respective year. Melt area was 44% at the peak melt in 2013, compared to 97% in 2012. The surface melt on the ice sheet is back near average for 2013.

Maximum melt extent on the Greenland Ice Sheet on July 26, 2013 (left), and July 11, 2012 (right), the summer peaks for each respective year. Melt area was 44% at the peak melt in 2013, compared to 97% in 2012. The surface melt on the ice sheet is back near average for 2013. Maps by NOAA Climate.gov, based on data provided by Thomas Mote, University of Georgia. 

Download here / Full gallery (Credit:NOAA)

 

 

The winter ranges of many reindeer and caribou herds are smaller than they used to be and many populations have unusually low numbers.

The winter ranges of many reindeer and caribou herds are smaller than they used to be and many populations have unusually low numbers. This map depicts the annual range of 24 migratory reindeer and caribou herds and their population status. Map by NOAA Climate.gov, based on data provided by Don Russell and Kim Poole, CARMA project. 

Download here / Full gallery (Credit:NOAA)