Arctic Report Card numbers reveal a situation that is grim – both from the perspective of the ice levels and temperatures with the former decreasing substantially and the latter increasing more than the global average increase.
The report card for the north pole was issued by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wherein it noted that the average temperatures over the Arctic land mass reached its highest point in the observational record, a 3.5°C increase since 1900. The report pointed out that this increase in temperature is causing more ice to melt thereby bringing the ice cover as well as snow levels to their lowest this spring.
NOAA also pointed out that one of the worst affected is the Greenland ice sheet that has seen substantial mass loss his year. Further, sea surface temperature in August was 5°C above the 1982–2010 average in the Barents and Chukchi seas and off of Greenland’s east and west coasts.
Another problem affecting the Arctic is its inability to regrow the ice at a rate higher than the melting. This issue is compounded by the fact that warmer weathers make it impossible for the ice to accumulate and this in turn causes more melting posing a major risk to global sea ice levels.
Scientists point out that next year there will be greater melting across the board at the North Pole with the region having already cross the threshold. With changing conditions at the Arctic, there will be repercussions across the globe starting with the regions closer to the polar region presenting both challenges as well as opportunities.
Scientists who have studied the report car have said that the conditions at the Arctic are not only worrisome, but are likely irreversible and that there is an urgent need for bringing about massive changes in how we proceed in every aspect of our lives from now on.
With increasing temperatures, there will be opportunities for the region as well with opening of new avenues including resource development, commercial shipping, and tourism. Thanks to melting ice there was a bumper Arctic Ocean productivity by springtime.
All in all, the report car puts in front of us a scientific background based on which we can develop responsible adaptation strategies that will help us in the short as well as long run.