Arctic Report Card 2018

December 11, 2018

The Arctic Report Card is an annual update on changes in the Arctic, and is rolled out at the AGU Fall Meeting. This is the first time I’ve actually attended the press conference.

Retired Admiral Tim Gallaudet, acting Chair of NOAA, was the target of some pointed questions from reporters as to whether the White House has been fully briefed on the findings, and how that squares with professed denial of climate science. Gillaudet fended them off, insisting that the White House continues to support NOAA science.

New York Times:

The warmer Arctic air causes the jet stream to become “sluggish and unusually wavy,” the researchers said. That has possible connections to extreme weather events elsewhere on the globe, including last winter’ssevere storms in the United States.

The jet steam normally acts as a kind of atmospheric spinning lasso that encircles and contains the cold air near the pole; a weaker, wavering jet stream can allow Arctic blasts to travel south in winter and can stall weather systems in the summer, among other effects.

The more rapid warming in the upper north, known as Arctic amplification, is tied to many factors, including the simple fact that snow and ice reflect a lot of sunlight, while open water, which is darker, absorbs more heat. As sea ice melts, less ice and more open water create a “feedback loop” of more melting that leads to progressively less ice and more open water.

And as Arctic waters become increasingly ice-free, there are commercial and geopolitical implications: New shipping routes may open, and rivalries with other countries, including Russia, are intensifying.



The federal government has issued the “report card” since 2006. It has continued to do so under the Trump administration, which has approved other scientific reports about global warming and the human greenhouse gas emissions that cause it, despite President Trump’s rejection of climate science.

Over all, “the effects of persistent Arctic warming continue to mount,” the new report said. “Continued warming of the Arctic atmosphere and ocean are driving broad change in the environmental system in predicted and, also, unexpected ways.”

Some of the findings in the research, provided by 81 scientists in 12 countries, included:

  • Ice that persists year after year, forming thick layers, is disappearing from the Arctic. This is important because the very old ice tends to resist melting; without it, melting accelerates. Old ice made up less than 1 percent of the Arctic ice pack this year, a decline of 95 percent over the last 33 years.

  • The lack of ice and surge of warmth coincides with rapid expansion of algae species in the Arctic Ocean, associated with harmful blooms that can poison marine life and people who eat the contaminated seafood. The northward shift of the algae “means that the Arctic is now vulnerable to species introductions into local communities and ecosystems that have little to no prior exposure to this phenomenon,” the report said.

  • Reindeer and caribou populations have declined 56 percent in the past two decades, dropping to 2.1 million from 4.7 million. Scientists monitoring 22 herds found that two of them were at peak numbers without declines, but five populations had declined more than 90 percent “and show no sign of recovery.”

  • Tiny bits of ocean plastic, which can be ingested by marine life, are proliferating at the top of the planet. “Concentrations in the remote Arctic Ocean are higher than all other ocean basins in the world,” the report said. The so-called microplastics are also showing up in Arctic sea ice. Scientists have found samples of cellulose acetate, used in making cigarette filters, and particles of plastics used in bottle caps and packaging material.

I’ll be talking to Greenland expert Luke Trusel later this week. See below.

Inside Climate News:

Melting on Greenland’s ice sheet has gone into “overdrive,” with meltwater runoff increasing 50 percent since the start of the industrial era and continuing to accelerate, new research shows. As more water runs off the ice sheet, it drives sea level rise, putting new pressure on coastal communities around the world.

“Once the ice sheets get kicked into motion, they just keep going. This is a wake-up call that shows how fast Greenland is changing,” said Rowan University climate researcher Luke Trusel, co-author of the new study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.

The scientists found that the trend of increasing surface melting across the ice sheet began in the mid-1800s as greenhouse gas emissions from the growth of industries were ramping up, and that it shot up over the past three decades. More meltwater is running off Greenland’s ice sheet now than at any time in the last 350 years, and probably since long before that, going back 6,000 to 7,000 years, Trusel said.

As a result, Greenland is also adding more to sea level than at any time over the past three and a half centuries, he said.


10 Responses to “Arctic Report Card 2018”

  1. Sha'Tara Says:

    So the problem re: anthropological climate change is going to be much more than rising sea levels. It’s going to be the implosion; the poisoning and exponential death throes of an entire ecosystem. Nice going. We should really throw a big global party and congratulate ourselves. Keynote speaker, of course, Donnie Tee.

  2. Bill Ramsay Says:

    Can someone clarify the second bullet point for me? it says that

    “Old ice made up less than 1 percent of the Arctic ice pack this year, a decline of 95 percent over the last 33 years”

    Does that mean that the old ice cover was 96% and is now 1%, or that the old ice cover was approx 2% and has fallen by 95% to approx 1%.

    sorry if this seems like a quibble.


  3. […] via Arctic Report Card 2018 — Climate Denial Crock of the Week […]

  4. dumboldguy Says:

    It’s surprising that this post hasn’t received more comments, especially Luke Trusel’s comments at the end. Heads in the sand, people? Hoping it will all go away if you don’t think about it? (Not to mention the news from East Antarctica)

    • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

      OH SHIT!
      There you go. Sorta like not much else to say except pitchforks and burning torches.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        No-No-N0!!! Jeffy4Z says we must have a PEACEFUL revolution (although he gives us no plan for one)—-no PF and BT allowed (although mine are ready to go, as is my 12 GA Remington 870 Tactical).

        Yes—peaceful, although the American Revolution and the Civil War show what kind of “peace” is needed to really effect change in this country. I wonder if Jeffy can give us a tally of the successful “peaceful revolutions” that have occurred in human history, as well as a tally of all the wars, big and small, that have occurred? IMO, we are not going to address AGW until the chance for peace has long passed.

        • Sha'Tara Says:

          As much as I deplore violence, I know it isn’t in the human psyche to seek permanent peaceful solution, or any, for that matter. Armed or not, as usual it will be the sheer force of numbers against the establishment that will ignite the revolution and when it starts it will not end until the establishment is crushed. Then, of course, we will promptly establish a new one, cause being slaves to vultures and vampires is also in the human psyche. History.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: