2019 Arctic Report Card: Visual highlights

NOAA’s 14th annual Arctic Report Card recounts the ways that climate change continued to alter the north polar region during 2019.

Via NOAA

NOAA’s 14th annual Arctic Report Card, released December 10, 2019, recounts the numerous ways that climate change continued to disrupt the polar region during 2019, with near-record high air and ocean temperatures, a massive melt of the Greenland ice sheet, record low sea-ice extents, and major shifts in the distribution of commercially valuable marine species.

The 2019 Arctic Report Card is a volume of original, peer-reviewed environmental analyses of a region undergoing rapid and dramatic change, compiled by 81 scientists from 12 nations. Read the 2019 Arctic Report Card here.

Below are links to five image-based stories that highlight some findings from this year’s report.

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2019 was Arctic’s second-warmest year on record

Line drawing map of north part of globe with red areas.

In 2019, surface temperatures were the second-warmest on record, continuing a string of 6 years that have been warmer than all other periods in the historic record dating back to 1900. Full story.

At gateways to the Arctic, northern fish are retreating

Side by side maps with outlined areas larger on left map, smaller on right.

As Arctic waters warm, fish and marine mammals are migrating in search of their preferred habitats and food sources. In both the Bering and Barents Seas, Arctic fish are retreating, while more southern species are expanding northward. Full story.

The Greenland Ice Sheet’s 2019 melt season rivaled record for area and duration

Graph with steadily descending line from 2002 to 2020 superimposed on orbital view of Greenland.

The Greenland Ice Sheet contains enough stored water to raise sea level by more than 24 feet (7.2 meters) as it melts. How fast that will occur is one of the big unknowns for predicting the pace of sea level rise over the rest of the century. The 2019 melt season on Greenland rivaled 2012’s record-melt year. Full story.

Less than 1% of Arctic ice has survived 4 or more summers

Side by side maps, lots of Arctic ice on left, very little on right.

One consequence of the region’s dramatic warming trend is that Arctic sea ice doesn’t last as long as it used to. The proportion of old, thick ice in the Arctic’s winter maximum ice pack has dropped from more than a third in the mid-1980s to barely just 1% today. Full story.

As sea ice disappears, Arctic seas are experiencing extreme summer warmth

Map with red areas north of Alaska, Siberia, and Greenland.

Like the air, the waters of the Arctic are warming, triggering a feedback loop in which sea ice melts, exposing more water to sunlight, leading to more warming. The warmth in summer can be extreme, as shallow coastal areas that were historically covered with sunlight-reflecting ice and snow are now open water. Full story.

Vast area of ice-covered water, and two small red ships.

Two Canadian Coast Guard ships tie up to ice in the Arctic Ocean on September 5, 2019. The two ships were taking part in a multi-year, multi-agency Arctic survey to map the Arctic continental shelf. Image via Patrick Kelley/ U.S. Coast Guard.

Bottom line: NOAA’s 2019 Arctic Report Card reports near-record high air and ocean temperatures, a massive melt of the Greenland ice sheet, record low sea-ice extents, and major shifts in the distribution of commercially valuable marine species.

Via NOAA

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