The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has just released it's 2012 report card on the conditions of snow and ice cover in the Arctic region.
The region, located above the Arctic Circle, or 66 degrees north latitude, suffered record low snow cover and sea ice, while at the same time seeing warmer-than-average sea temperatures, increased green space and vegetation growing seasons, and a boom in Sun-driven plankton production.
“The Arctic is changing in both predictable and unpredictable ways, so we must expect surprises,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, in a statement at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. “The Arctic is an extremely sensitive part of the world and with the warming scientists have observed, we see the results with less snow and sea ice, greater ice sheet melt and changing vegetation.”The agency published a video highlighting some of the findings of the report card, which was prepared by 141 authors in 15 countries:
As a consequence of the changes, the Arctic fox is close to extinction in Northern Europe, NOAA said.
One of the most dramatic examples of the record year of losses that the Arctic saw in 2012 was the nearly complete surface melt of the Greenland ice sheet over a stunningly quick 10 days in July.NOAA prepared this slide presentation(pdf) "Global Warming is amplified in the Arctic"
NOAA noted that the snow cover loss was the third record low for North America in five years and the fifth consecutive record low for Europe and Asia.
Sea ice, too plummeted to its smallest minimum coverage area yet — 1.3 million square miles — or 18 percent below the prior record low of 1.65 million square miles in 2007.
Here are the visual highlights of the NOAA 2012 Arctic Report Card
Stunning updated Arctic webcam: