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Keywords:

  • Arctic;
  • sea ice extent;
  • Greenland ice sheet;
  • global change

Despite air temperatures that were not abnormally high, the Arctic set new record lows for snow cover and sea ice extent in 2012. Studies detailing these records are included in the 2012 update of NOAA's Arctic Report Card, which was released 5 December at a press conference at the AGU Fall Meeting. This is the sixth annual update of the report card, which covers a wide variety of indicators about the Arctic, including the atmosphere, sea ice, glaciers and terrestrial snow cover, and marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Among the records noted is extensive melting of the Greenland ice sheet. “I've studied Greenland for 20 years now—I've devoted my career to it—and 2012 was an astonishing year,” said Jason Box of the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University. He noted that the duration of the melting season in 2012 was the longest in the recent record, there were record high areas and volumes of ice lost, and surface melting was documented at the highest elevations of the ice sheet.