NOAA released the 2012 installment of the annual Arctic Report Card on December 5, 2012, as part of the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting. This image collection is a gallery of highlights based on the report's major themes. It was developed by the NOAA Climate.gov team in cooperation with Arctic Report Card authors and other Arctic experts.

A scorching July contributed to the third hottest summer on record for the contiguous United States. Most of the U.S. was also drier than average. Rains from Isaac did little to relieve drought.

A series of unusually strong, long-lasting high pressure systems has parked over Greenland this summer. As many a weather forecaster has explained, high pressure generally leads to calm winds and sunny skies, both of which boost temperatures during the all-day sunshine of mid-summer at high latitudes. The conditions contributed to widespread melting of the ice sheet.

In early 2011, stratospheric temperatures rose over the tropics due to La Nina while temperatures over the poles fell below the long-term average.

Data from 2010 indicate that mountain glaciers predominantly lost mass, and preliminary data from 2011 indicate a continuation of the same long-term trend.

In 2011, La Niña and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation cooled parts of the Pacific Ocean, but unusually warm temperatures predominated elsewhere.

map of US winter temp anomalies 2011-2012

When NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center crunched the numbers for December, January and February—”meteorological” winter for 2011-2012—it stacked up as the fourth warmest of the past 117 winters. Virtually all of the West received less than its average precipitation.

 

It is virtually certain our world will continue to warm over this century and beyond. The exact amount of warming that will occur in the coming century depends largely on the energy choices that we make now and in the next few decades.

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