From record-low Arctic sea ice to the highest global sea level of the modern record, the 2012 State of the Climate report provides a complete rundown on the state of Earth's climate and how it is changing.

The extent of snow-covered ground in the Northern Hemisphere at the end of the cold season (June) hit a record low. Annual average snow cover extent has not exceeded the long-term average even once since 2003. Between 1979 and 2011, the snow cover in June is declining even faster than the end-of-summer Arctic sea ice extent.

In 2012, sea ice melted to a record-breaking minimum extent. At the end of the summer melt season, ice covered only about half of the average area it did from 1979–2000.

It may seem remote from our everyday lives, but the Arctic exerts a powerful influence on the rest of the planet. From rising sea level, to U.S. and European weather, to bird migrations, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco describes how Arctic climate change can influence the rest of the planet.

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.

The summer of 2012 brought Greenland far more extensive melt than anything observed in the satellite record: in July 2012, surface melt extended over nearly the entire ice sheet. The standardized melt index was nearly double the previous record.

Shallow melt ponds on the surface of consolidated sea ice act as skylights that promote massive under-ice phytoplankton blooms. These under-ice blooms may boost estimates of Arctic phytoplankton productivity by a factor of 10.

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