In October 2003, a little-known think tank in the Department of Defense quietly released a report warning that climate change could happen so suddenly it could pose a major threat to our country's national security. Why was the Pentagon worried about abrupt climate change? Because new evidence from Greenland showed it had happened before.
Although you might have a hard time convincing residents of the eastern United States, Scandinavia, and Russia (outside of Sochi, anyway), January’s global average surface temperature balanced out as the fourth warmest in the historical record.
Persistent cold temperatures in the Midwest this winter almost completely frozen over many of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) reported that 88 percent of the Great Lakes were frozen as of mid-February.
From reindeer to regional temperature patterns, from sea ice age to Greenland surface melt, the Arctic Report Card is a yearly assessment of the Arctic's physical and biological systems and how they are changing. This collection of visual highlights from the 2013 report is a story of the Arctic in pictures.
Since the mid-1960s, the Arctic has warmed about 3.6°F (2.0°C)—more than double the amount of warming in lower latitudes. In 2012 (the last complete calendar year available at the time scientists began working on the 2013 Arctic Report Card), the annual average temperature was the sixth warmest on record.
After record-breaking melt during the 2012 season, the 2013 melt extent was more on par with the long-term average. The reprieve from the record warmth and melting of the past six summers is likely connected to a strong positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation during summer 2013.
Most of the Arctic boundary waters were warmer than average in summer 2013, but a few cool pockets appeared in the western Arctic and the Greenland Sea. Warmer waters are drawing new species from lower latitudes into the Arctic.
In May 2013, there was record-setting loss of Eurasian spring snow cover, and spring snow cover was below normal again in June—the fourth lowest on record. This is the sixth year in a row that Eurasia has set a new record low in either May or June snow extent.