2012 was a bad year for the Arctic
During 2012, the Arctic broke several climate records, including a level of unprecedented warmth that created rapid ice loss.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is warning in its "The State of the Climate in 2012" report that last year was one of the 10 hottest since the beginning of recording global average temperatures.
In addition to this, Arctic sea ice melted to reach record lows during the annual summer thaw. To illustrate this, the report points out that in Greenland, around 97% of the region's ice sheet melted: this a figure that is four times the expected figure based on the melt in previous years. We’re still feeling the effects of this and continued warming today, with the North Pole Environmental Agency issuing a warning that the summer ice has melted so fast and by so much that a shallow lake has formed.
Also, greenhouse gas emissions rose to worrying levels. In early May, the carbon dioxide ratio in the Earth’s atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million in readings taken at Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory — this is thought to be the highest concentration in millions of years.
"Many of the events that made 2012 such an interesting year are part of the long-term trends we see in a changing and varying climate — carbon levels are climbing, sea levels are rising, Arctic sea ice is melting, and our planet as a whole is becoming a warmer place," Acting NOAA Administrator Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D is quoted as saying.
This year marks the 23rd edition of the report, which is produced as part of a suite of climate services offered by NOAA for the U.S. government and wider academic research.
Other concerning observations recorded in the report include a continued rise in sea levels that reached a record high in 2012 — this even without the contributing effects of the phenomena known as La Nina that saw a significant rise in 2011.
Polar Bear on ice flow image via Shutterstock.
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