Springtime melting and retreating sea ice allowed more sunlight to reach the upper layers of the ocean, stimulating widespread blooms of algae and other tiny marine plants which form the base of the marine food chain: a sign of the rapid changes occurring in a warming Arctic.
2016 was the third year in a row that global average surface temperature set a new record, and the fifth time the record has been broken since the start of the twenty-first century. This animation shows the yearly history of Earth's temperature since the modern record began in 1880.
Although surface melt did not set a new record in 2016, the Greenland Ice Sheet did continue a long-term trend of decreasing mass, according to the latest Arctic Report Card from NOAA and its partners.
A broad expanse of 80+ degree water dominated the tropical Pacific last winter. This animation shows how these warm surface waters were eroded by waves of cool water that pulsed across the equator throughout spring and summer.