In the 2011 Arctic Report Card, scientists report that the bright white surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet has grown less reflective. The darker surface absorbs more sunlight, accelerating melting.

Phytoplankton productivity has increased 20 percent over the past decade as sea ice extent declines and more open water habitat is available.

Satellite observations show that as the Arctic tundra has grown warmer in the past three decades, it has also grown “greener.”

This animation of photo-like satellite images documens the extreme variability of surface melt on part of the Greenland Ice Sheet in the past decade.

In the mid-1980s, the winter sea ice pack in the Arctic was dominated by multi-year ice—ice that had survived at least one summer melt. Today, less than half of the sea ice at winter maximum has survived at least one summer.

The low ice extent recorded this September continued the downward trend seen over the last 30 years. Meanwhile, scientists are finding that the ice cover has grown thinner, making it more vulnerable to melting during the summer.

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