NOAA Releases Arctic Report Card For 2017

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association released its "Arctic Report Card" on Dec. 12, and the results aren't positive.

The surface air temperature from September 2016 to September 2017 was the second warmest year on record since 1900. Sea ice cover continued to thin, with the percentage of thick ice declining to 21 percent compared to 45 percent in 1985. Arctic tundra had record greenness and permafrost melt.

But it the report did not deliver all bad news. This summer was cooler than it's been in recent years, allowing for rebound snow cover in the Eurasian arctic and lower levels of sea ice loss.

The Arctic Report Card is credibly-sourced, using peer-reviewed work from 85 scientists in 12 countries, the Washington Examiner reports.

"This year’s Arctic Report Card is a powerful argument for why we need long-term sustained Arctic observations to support the decisions that we will need to make to improve the economic well-being for Arctic communities, national security, environmental health and food security," said retired Navy Rear Admiral and acting NOAA administrator Dr. Timothy Gallaudet.

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The report proposed that warmer temperatures might be the Arctic's new normal. If it continues as it has been, primary productivity of the marine food system will flourish and passages in the Arctic Sea will open up, enabling nations to ship goods through the northern region year-round.

Warmer weather also leads to increased plant growth, which could require planning for wildfires in the area.

Arctic communities may not be able to adapt to the weather changes as quickly as they are happening. The northernmost Alaskan town of Utqiagvik was deleted from the NOAA computer's database for warming too quickly, tricking the computer into reading the data as fake, according to The Washington Post.

Deke Arndt, chief of the NOAA's Climate Monitoring Branch, described the automated deletion as "an ironic exclamation point to swift regional climate change in and near the Arctic."

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Summer 2017 was the second warmest behind 2016, with overall lowest levels of sea ice that have ever been recorded.

In Utqiagvik, the average temperature in October has increased by 7.8 degrees in the 21st century. Meanwhile, November is 6.9 degrees warmer and December temperatures have increased by 4.7 degrees.

The deleted data point was restored and scientists are once again monitoring the Arctic town. The algorithm that led to its deletion was updated so as to accommodate the warming temperatures of the region

Sources: NOAA, Washington Examiner, The Washington Post via Anchorage Daily News / Featured Image: Kathryn Hansen/NASA via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr / Embedded Images: Pink floyd88 a/Wikimedia Commons, Dr. Kathy Crane/NOAA 

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