Arctic sea ice extent set a new record low at the end of the summer melt season on September 16, 2012. But extent is not the only quality of the ice that is changing. Wind and ocean circulation patterns are conspiring with a warmer climate to reduce the amount of year-round (multi-year) ice, transforming the remaining ice into a younger, thinner version of its old self.

Arctic sea ice extent fell to 1.58 million square miles on August 26, 2012. This was 27,000 square miles smaller than the previous record low of 1.61 million square miles set in 2007.

In September 2011, Arctic sea ice reached its second-lowest minimum extent in the satellite record.

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, annual snow cover extent over Northern Hemisphere continents (including the Greenland ice sheet) averaged 24.7 million square kilometers, which is 0.3 million square kilometers less than the long-term average.

Kristin Laidre, a marine mammal biologist, has taken more than thirty trips to the Arctic, many of them to study the mysterious narwhal. Although the narwhal has appeared in stories throughout history, scientists are just beginning to understand this quirky creature with a fierce survival instinct. But in recent years, a series of unusual events led Laidre to wonder if narwhals are being caught off guard by changes in their unforgiving environment…

Climate scientist Anthony Janetos makes it clear that climate change isn't some future abstraction: real and substantial impacts on people's lives, the economy, the environment, and our valuable natural resources are already happening here in the United States.

 

This year’s Arctic Report Card emphasizes that climate change is more prominent in the Arctic than at lower latitudes.

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