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2012 Arctic Report Card Tracking recent environmental changes. Martin Jeffries 1 , J. E. Overland 2 , J. A. Richter-Menge 3 , and N. N. Soreide 2

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2012 Arctic Report Card Tracking recent environmental changes

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2012 Arctic Report Card Tracking recent environmental changes

Martin Jeffries1, J. E. Overland2, J. A. Richter-Menge3, and N. N. Soreide2

1 Office of Naval Research & University of Alaska Fairbanks, Arlington, VA2 NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle, WA, USA3 US Army Corps of Engineers, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Arctic Report Card 2012

  • Sponsored by the Arctic Research Program in the NOAA Climate Program Office

  • 6th annual update of the Arctic Report Card (first published in 2006)

  • 20 essays developed by 141 authors from 15 different countries

  • Independent peer-review organized by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) of the international Arctic Council








Detailed Essays


Arctic Report Card 2012

What’s New in 2012?

Record-setting changesoccurring repeatedly & faster than expected

Record low June snow extent in North America and Eurasia

Record low Arctic sea ice extent & thickness

Record losses of Greenland ice sheet

Greenland ice sheet loss

Record-setting surface melting, ice area and volume losses.

Standardized Melt Index (SMI)

Area-averaged albedo (Jun-Aug)



Rare July melt event impacted 97% of surface area

Loss of ice sheet mass

Melt Area

Jul 8, 2012

Jul 12, 2012

Sea ice extent

The continued decline in sea ice is indicative of a shift to a new state of reduced sea ice coverage

The minimum Arctic sea ice extent in 2012 was nearly half the values seen from 1979-2000.

September 16, 2012

Sea ice thickness

January 1987

Older, thicker sea ice continues to be replaced by younger, thinner sea ice

Older, thicker sea ice shown in white

January 2012


Snow extent

June snow extent in the northern hemisphere set record lows repeatedly in the past 5 years in N America and Eurasia.

June 1971-2000

June 2012

Impacts the length of the growing season, the timing and dynamics of spring river runoff, the ground thermal regime, and wildlife population dynamics.

June snow extent has decreased faster (-17.6 % /decade) than September sea ice extent (-13% /decade)

Changes in Arctic marine ecosystem

Massive plankton blooms under thinning ice pack.

New habitat for algae in “melt holes” in sea ice

Whale population impacts are uncertain. With sea ice declining, gray whales are remaining in the Arctic longer

Under-ice phytoplankton bloom

“… profound, continuing changes in the Arctic marine ecosystem”

Shifts in primary and secondary production have direct impacts on benthic communities

Seabirds , indicators of changing marine conditions, are showing changes in diet, foraging behavior and survival rates.


Tundra, adjacent to the expanding ocean open in summer, is seeing an increase in biomass, greenness, length of growing season and summer warmth.

Permafrost temperatures

Permafrost temperature below the tundra land surface is increasing partially due to greater summer warmth following the earlier retreat of the snow cover in spring


Melting permafrost impacts infrastructure, river runoff, vegetation, growing season, turndra fires


Land animals

Strong regional variation in caribou and reindeer populations.

Lemming (small rodent) population density decreasing, may be influenced by snow characteristics

Arctic fox population linked to lemming (food) abundance and northward territorial expansion of the larger Red fox.

Arctic Report Card 2012www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard

Record low June snow extent in North America and Eurasia

Record low June snow extent in North America and Eurasia

Record low Arctic sea ice extent & thickness

Record losses of Greenland ice sheet

Record losses of Greenland ice sheet

Multiple, record-breaking and recurring changes

provide strong evidence that the Arctic system is entering a new state

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