The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its annual Arctic report card with grim findings:
Temperature increases, a near-record loss of summer sea ice, and a melting of surface ice in Greenland are among some of the evidence of continued warming in the Arctic, according to an annual review of conditions in the Arctic issued today by NOAA….
One example of these changes in arctic climate is the autumn air temperatures which are at a record 5 degrees C (9 degrees F) above normal, because of the major loss of sea ice in recent years. The loss of sea ice allows more solar heating of the ocean. That warming of the air and ocean affects land and marine life, and reduces the amount of winter sea ice that lasts into the following summer. The year 2007 was the warmest on record for the Arctic, continuing a general Arctic-wide warming trend that began in the mid-1960s.
Significantly, NASA attempts to include some of this astonishing Arctic warming in its global temperature data set, whereas the UK’s Hadley Center excludes this area — a key reason NASA estimates “2005 was the warmest since records began, with 1998 and 2007 tied in second place” whereas Hadley has 1998 as the warmest year on record (see “Yes, the planet has kept warming since 1998“). The misperception that the planet stopped warming in 1998 stems more from our limited number of temperature stations in the Arctic than from any genuine trend.
The TV coverage I saw of the NOAA report (on ABC tonight) emphasized the Greenland results:
Warming has continued around Greenland in 2007, culminating in record setting (since 1970s) melt area and amplified absorption of solar radiation. Greenland’s largest glacier, among a majority of others, continued its retreat. The ice sheet lost at least 100 cubic km (24 cubic miles) of ice, making it one of the largest single contributors to global sea level rise.
But I think the tundra report is at least as significant, since we know that the rapid loss of the Arctic sea ice and the soaring Arctic temperatures is accelerating us toward the most dangerous climate threshold (see “Tundra 4: Permafrost loss linked to Arctic sea ice loss“). As a recent study found, “simulated western Arctic land warming trends during rapid sea ice loss are 3.5 times greater than secular 21st century climate-change trends. The accelerated warming signal penetrates up to 1500 km inland.”
That was a simulation. NOAA’s report card has an analysis that confirms the grim reality on the ground: