Climate change is being constantly monitored by various organizations and scientists across the globe. One of the most well known is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The administration recently released their new in-depth annual report card for the state of the Arctic. This is the fourth such annual report, a report which continues to alarm scientists regarding the extent of changes ongoing in the Arctic.
The report was compiled by 69 scientists from eight different countries. NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco, while speaking of the report, conveyed the importance of the report card and the Arctic as a whole. Lubchenco stated: “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.”
Lubchenco continued: “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. […] Whatever is going to happen in the rest of the world happens first, and to the greatest extent, in the Arctic.”
Such an observation is sobering considering the current state of the Arctic. According to the annual report card for 2010, the Arctic is continuing to warm at a dramatic rate and altering the environment in the region. The Arctic and Greenland experienced record high temperatures and this caused a significant decrease in sea ice coverage. Snow coverage also saw record high decreases.
Scientists experienced brief hope in 2009 as the Arctic saw a decrease in warming compared to years before. However, 2010 saw record temperatures in Greenland and seven degrees Fahrenheit above monthly averages in northern Canada. Also, the Petermann Glacier in Greenland lost a 110-square-mile piece of ice this year, which is the largest loss from a glacier to date.
Another concerning event which happened this year was the Arctic winds blowing north to south. The direction of the winds are generally west to east, which helps keep the area cooler as well. However, instead the winds caused decreased temperatures to the south, such as the United States. The winds, according to the NOAA, have only changed direction three times in their 160 years of records.
In addition, the scientists have reported increased melting of glaciers in Greenland. Such increases have caused glaciologist Jason Box to state that he believed “sea level projections will need to be revised upward.” Increased sea levels are a major concern surrounding climate change considering the environmental toll such changes would cause.