Quantcast

Arctic Report Card 2017: Ice Cover Is Shrinking Faster Compared With Prior 1,500 Years

Climate
Union of Concerned Scientists

By Brenda Ekwurzel

The 2017 Arctic Report Card reflects contributions from 85 scientists representing 12 countries. The pace of sea ice area (hereafter extent) decrease is unprecedented over the past 1,500 years, according to Emily Osborne's et al. 2017 contribution to the Arctic Report Card released Tuesday.


Osborne and team carefully relied upon 45 different archives with a variety of yearly records (i.e. ice cores, tree rings and sediment cores) that provide information on air temperature, sea surface temperature and Arctic sea ice extent. Note that record ends at around 2,000.

Osborne, Cronin, and Farmer, 2017, Arctic Report Card (NOAA)

Sea ice extent, temperature anomaly, CO2 concentrations. Temperature anomalies show the fluctuations in temperature around a long-term mean; positive anomalies indicate warmer than average temperatures within a time series. The vertical dashed black line marks the start of the Industrial Revolution and global impacts of anthropogenic carbon emissions.

To see the latest story with sea ice extent observations, Don Perovich's et al. 2017 contribution to the Arctic Report Card demonstrates it is not rebounding or recovering.

It is critical to track such unprecedented pace of change.

Navy Rear Admiral (Ret.) Timothy Gallaudet, acting NOAA administrator, highlighted the national security and economic reasons for closely tracking changes in the Arctic.

Gallaudet mentioned that NOAA is already taking action in terms of advancing our Earth system prediction and capability. Various departments depend on this information including Departments of Commerce, Agriculture and Defense.

Perovich et al., 2017, Arctic Report Card (NOAA)

Time series of ice extent anomalies in March (maximum ice extent) and September (minimum ice extent). The anomaly value for each year is the difference (in percent) in ice extent relative to the mean values for the period 1981-2010. The black and red dashed lines are least squares linear regression lines. The slopes of these lines indicate ice losses of -2.7 percent and -13.2 percent per decade in March and September, respectively.

The longer-term perspective sure gives the impression of precipitous decline in Arctic Sea ice extent. Accordingly, there are many consequences associated with such a rapid pace of change.

Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA's Arctic Research Program noted that "the Arctic is among the most under observed places on the planet. The imperative is clear whether we are dealing with open ocean navigation, refugees or native hunters."

Spanning a dozen years, NOAA, has consistently delivered a robust assessment of the Arctic. As we know, the world depends on this information because what happens in the Arctic influences coastlines around the world, extreme weather events in the Northern Hemisphere and more.

Brenda Ekwurzel is a senior climate scientist and the director of climate science at Union of Concerned Scientists.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Bumblebees flying and pollinating a creeping thyme flower. emeliemaria / iStock / Getty Images

It pays to pollinate in Minnesota.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of icebergs on Arctic Ocean in Greenland. Explora_2005 / iStock / Getty Images

The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Sled dog teams pull researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute through meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet in early June, 2019. Danish Meteorological Institute / Steffen M. Olsen

By Jon Queally

In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.

Read More Show Less
CAFOs often store animal waste in massive, open-air lagoons, like this one at Vanguard Farms in Chocowinity, North Carolina. Bacteria feeding on the animal waste turns the mixture a bright pink. picstever / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tia Schwab

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.

Read More Show Less
Members of the NY Renews coalition gathered before New York lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act. NYRenews / Twitter

By Julia Conley

Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
In this picture taken on June 4, an Indian boatman walks amid boats on the dried bed of a lake at Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, on the eve of World Environment Day. Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.

Read More Show Less
A man carries a poster in New York City during the second annual nationwide March For Science on April 14, 2018. Kena Betancur / Getty Images

By Will J. Grant

In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn't happen often.

People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity — and have probably always done so.

Read More Show Less

YinYang / E+ / Getty Images

In a blow to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court ruled Monday to uphold a Virginia ban on mining uranium, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less