Warmer air and sea, declining ice continue to trigger
Arctic change

Fish and walruses moving in face of new challenges


December 15, 2015

Average temperature from October 2014-September 2015 compared to the 1981-2010 average (top). Annual temperatures for the Arctic compared to the whole globe since 1900 (bottom). (Credit: NOAAClimate.gov image).

Average temperature from October 2014-September 2015 compared to the 1981-2010 average (top). Annual temperatures for the Arctic compared to the whole globe since 1900 (bottom). (Credit: NOAA Climate.gov image)

A new NOAA-sponsored report shows that air temperature in 2015 across the Arctic was well above average with temperature anomalies over land more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit above average, the highest since records began in 1900. Increasing air and sea surface temperatures, decreasing sea ice extent and Greenland ice sheet mass, and changing behavior of fish and walrus are among key observations released today in the Arctic Report Card 2015.

“Now in its 10th year, the Arctic Report Card is a key tool to understanding changes in the Arctic and how those changes may affect communities, businesses, and people around the world,” said NOAA Chief Scientist Dr. Rick Spinrad, during a press conference today at the annual American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. “The Arctic is warming twice as fast as other parts of the planet, which has ramifications for global security, climate, commerce, and trade. This year’s report shows the importance of international collaboration on sustained, long-term observing programs that provide insights to inform decisions by citizens, policymakers, and industry.”

Some 70 authors from 11 countries, including U.S. federal agencies and academics, contributed to this annual peer-reviewed report, guided by an editorial team from the Office of Naval Research, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, and NOAA. This year’s report features updates on key indicators, as well as new reports on the status of walrus, the northward movement of fishes, increasing river discharge into the Arctic Ocean, and the importance of community-based monitoring. Major findings of this year’s report include:

Part of a haul out of an estimated 35,000 walruses on a barrier island near Point Lay, Alaska, on September 27, 2014. (Credit: Photo by Corey Accardo/NOAA/NMFS/AFSC/NMML).

Part of a haul out of an estimated 35,000 walruses on a barrier island near Point Lay, Alaska, on September 27, 2014. (Credit: Photo by Corey Accardo/NOAA/NMFS/AFSC/NMML)

This year’s report also includes guest essays that provide insight on how fish, walrus, and Arctic rivers are responding to changes in the warmer environment:  

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/.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and our other social media channels.