The Arctic is a region in transformation. Warming in the region has been amplified, as expected from ice-albedo feedback effects, with the rate of warming observed to be ∼0.60 ± 0.07°C/decade in the Arctic (>64°N) compared to ∼0.17°C/decade globally during the last three decades. This increase in surface temperature is manifested in all components of the cryosphere. In particular, the sea ice extent has been declining at the rate of ∼3.8%/decade, whereas the perennial ice (represented by summer ice minimum) is declining at a much greater rate of ∼11.5%/decade. Spring snow cover has also been observed to be declining by −2.12%/decade for the period 1967–2012. The Greenland ice sheet has been losing mass at the rate of ∼34.0 Gt/year (sea level equivalence of 0.09 mm/year) during the period from 1992 to 2011, but for the period 2002–2011, a higher rate of mass loss of ∼215 Gt/year has been observed. Also, the mass of glaciers worldwide declined at the rate of 226 Gt/year from 1971 to 2009 and 275 Gt/year from 1993 to 2009. Increases in permafrost temperature have also been measured in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere while a thickening of the active layer that overlies permafrost and a thinning of seasonally frozen ground has also been reported. To gain insight into these changes, comparative analysis with trends in clouds, albedo, and the Arctic Oscillation is also presented.

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Conflict of interest: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article.