Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Climate Change December 15, 2016 - 1:10 pm

Arctic Report Card 2016 points to increased Arctic warming

Arctic air temps highest since 1900

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
This graphic from NOAA's 2016 Arctic Report Card shows the difference from the normal temperatures recorded in the Arctic from Oct. 2015 to Sept. 2016. (IMAGE COURTESY OF NOAA)
This graphic from NOAA's 2016 Arctic Report Card shows the difference from the normal temperatures recorded in the Arctic from Oct. 2015 to Sept. 2016. (IMAGE COURTESY OF NOAA)

If you had graded the Arctic on its coolness for most of 2016, the region would have flunked.

That’s because the Arctic appears heading in the wrong direction and is heating up, according to the 2016 Arctic report card from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric and Administration.

Temperatures across Nunavut have now dipped for the season.

But, among the unusual warming events: record-breaking temperatures from Nunavut to Siberia in November, which brought spring-like warmth across much of Nunavut.

That’s troubling because air temperature remains “a major indicator of global warming and the influence of increases in greenhouse gases,” the NOAA report said—and Arctic air temperatures are increasing twice as fact as elsewhere.

The report, released Dec. 13, noted that the Arctic average surface air temperature over land for the year ending September 2016 was by far the highest since 1900.

And new monthly record highs were recorded for January, February, October and November 2016.

“We’ve seen a year in 2016 in the Arctic like we’ve never seen before,” said Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA’s Arctic research program, at a Dec. 13 news conference on the report card.

As well, the minimum Arctic sea ice cover, recorded at the end of the summer 2016, tied with 2007 for the second lowest in the satellite record, which started in 1979.

And the sea ice continued to be relatively young and thin, the report said: In March 2016, multi-year ice, more than one year old, and first-year ice were down.

The spring snow cover extent in the North American Arctic—from Alaska to Nunavut—was also the lowest in the satellite record, which started in 1967.

That reduction in the snow cover is important because snow cools the climate system, insulates the underlying soil, and stores and redistributes water before spring melt, the report sad.

NOAA has issued its Arctic Report Card every year since 2006.

You can read the 106-page report card here.

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