Scientists have raised concern over the Arctic getting warmer faster than the rest of the world and fear that it will have far greater repercussions than the temperatures rising elsewhere. It is being estimated that temperatures across the Northern ice tracts are rising twice as fast as temperatures in other parts of the world. This has led to huge melting of ice sheets (both on land and sea) and also affected polar bear populations and migration of fish.
These findings have been published in the Arctic Report Card which was first published in 2006 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is updated annually. Every year, the report lists the changes brought about by globally rising temperatures, caused mainly due to emission of greenhouse gases.
Because of rising temperatures along the Arctic, Alaska recorded temperatures nearly 20 degrees higher than the January average as warm air flowed north, according to an Arctic Report Card issued by the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration.
In April, the amount of snow in Eurasia — the land mass that comprises Asia and Europe — hit its lowest level since satellite observations began in 1979, and the June snow in North America was the third lowest on record, said Jacqueline Richter-Menge, a senior research engineer for NOAA’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.
“Snow disappeared three to four weeks earlier than normal in western Russia, Scandinavia, the Canadian sub-Arctic and western Alaska due to below average accumulation in winter and above normal spring temperature,” said Richter-Menge, a co-editor of the report card, which was first published in 2006 and updated each year since.
With lesser ice in the sea (and consequently, more water), sunlight penetrated the ocean and reached greater depths. This led to blooming of tiny marine plants across the ocean floor while the land in the Tundra region also got greener. Polar bears, which rely on sea ice for traveling, mating and hunting, have also been seen to diminishing in number along the western Hudson Bay in Canada from 1987 to 2011, though their numbers have not declined elsewhere.
However, the number of adult polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea has now stopped falling. There are nearly 900 of them in that area at present, after their population dipped by nearly 40% in 2001. The report also discussed in detail the conditions prevailing in Greenland.