Arctic is warming, NOAA report says
An array of factors -- from record high temperatures in Greenland to thinning sea ice and record decreases in snow cover -- all suggest the Arctic is heating up, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's annual assessment of the region.
NOAA's Arctic Report Card, based on the work of 69 international researchers and 176 published scientific references, confirms that the Arctic remains vulnerable to climate change.
The report highlights Greenland's warmer temperatures, ice melt and glacier area loss and the Arctic's lowest snow cover since record-keeping began 44 years ago.
Summer sea ice also continues to decline, the report said. The 2009-2010 summer sea ice cover was the third-lowest since satellite monitoring began in 1979, and this year's minimum for sea ice thickness was the third-lowest recorded in three decades.
"To quote one of my NOAA colleagues, 'Whatever is going to happen in the rest of the world happens first, and to the greatest extent, in the Arctic," said NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco in a statement. "Beyond affecting the humans and wildlife that call the area home, the Arctic's warmer temperatures and decreases in permafrost, snow cover, glaciers and sea ice also have wide-ranging consequences for the physical and biological systems in other parts of the world. The Arctic is an important driver of climate and weather around the world and serves as a critical feeding and breeding ground that supports globally significant populations of birds, mammals and fish."
The assessment also suggests that higher air temperatures in the Arctic atmosphere in the fall is contributing to changes in the atmospheric circulation in both the Arctic and northern mid-latitudes, affecting weather well beyond the polar region.
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