In the year 2018, surface air temperatures in the Arctic continued to warm at roughly twice the rate relative to the rest of the globe. It was the second warmest year, second only to 2016, on record in the Arctic since 1900, at +1.7 C relative to the long-term average between 1981 and 2010. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2018 Arctic Report Card was released on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting.
The report includes a series of 14 essays written by more than 80 scientists from 12 countries. “This report will also help guide NOAA’s priorities in better understanding the role of the Arctic in climate change and extreme weather; sustaining and growing fisheries; and supporting adaptation and economic opportunities in the region,” said Retired Navy Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D., acting undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at NOAA.
This year’s report shows that the Arctic region experienced the second-highest air temperatures ever recorded, the second-lowest overall sea-ice coverage, lowest recorded winter ice in the Bering Sea and earlier plankton blooms due to early melting of sea ice in the Bering Sea. The Arctic Ocean has lost 95 percent of its oldest, thickest ice. In 2018, Arctic sea ice remained younger and thinner and covered less area than in the past.
“When I look at the report, one of the big takeaways from this year is that it really shows how interconnected things are,” Dr. Donald Perovich, professor at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, said at the press conference. “We’re really starting to see cascading effects that we don’t fully understand.”