According to the annual Arctic Report Card, issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, scientists are seeing “drastic changes” in northern most areas of the globe compared to just five years ago. “The Arctic we see today is very different from the Arctic we saw even five years ago,” said Jackie Richter-Menge of the USACE Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H. in a written release. “It’s a warmer place with less thick and more mobile sea ice, warmer and fresher ocean water, and increased stress on caribou, reindeer, polar bears and walrus in some regions,” added Richter-Menge, who is also the report’s chief technical editor and contributing author.
“The Arctic is a special and fragile place on this planet,” said Jane Lubchenco in the release. She is under secretary for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Climate change is happening faster in the Arctic than any other place on Earth — and with wide-ranging consequences. When I visited the northern corners of Alaska’s Arctic region earlier this year, I saw an area abundant with natural resources, diverse wildlife, proud local and native peoples — and a most uncertain future. This year’s Arctic Report Card underscores the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas pollution and adapting to climate changes already under way,” she added.
The 2009 report card highlights a number of changes:
A change in large scale wind patterns affected by the loss of summer sea ice,
The replacement of sustained multi-year sea ice by first-year sea ice than melts and reappears yearly,
Warmer and fresher water in the upper ocean linked to new ice-free areas,
A continued loss of the Greenland ice sheet,
Less snow in North America and increased runoff in Siberia, and
The effect of the loss of sea ice on Arctic plant, animal, and fish species.
Check out the whole report card at http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard