NOAA: 2022 Arctic Report Card

December 13, 2022

American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting underway in Chicago.
I am bitterly disappointed not to be in physical attendance, due to my concern about Covid exposure, but will be following online.

Washington Post;

The bison couldn’t crack the ice. As Christmastime wound down last year, unseasonably warm temperatures and heavy rain in Alaska’s Delta Junction melted snow and ice, which quickly refroze due to subzero temperatures near the surface. Usually, the bovine can shovel through snow with their heads and horns, but the frozen snow and ice persisted like a layer of cement atop the grasses and plants they need to feed on. And the bison couldn’t get through.

About 180 bison, or a third of the Delta herd, starved to death. Those that survived were skinny and in poor form. Bison season in the Delta Junction area, one of the most popular hunting seasons in Alaska, was cut short from six months to two weeks.

It was one of several exceptional events the Arctic experienced over the past year, all intensified by a warmer world. A typhoon, formed in unusually warm waters in the North Pacific, hit the western coast of Alaska as the state’s strongest storm in decades. A late heat wave in Greenland caused unprecedented melt in September, which can contribute to sea level rise. Despite decent winter snow in Alaska, the rapid onset of summer created devastating conditions for wildfires that burned a record million acres by June.

The recent events are a continuation of a decades-long destabilization in the Arctic region, researchers said in the 2022 Arctic Report Card, a new federal assessment of the region released Tuesday. Since the first report card was issued in 2006, researchers have documented a decline in the polar environment, with loss from sea ice to wildlife. As time goes on, many of the effects of a warmer, wetter and stormier Arctic are coming into a clearer focus.

“As we see changes in the Arctic, its connectivity to the rest of the world only increases,” said Matthew Druckenmiller, the lead editor of this year’s assessment and a research scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center. “We will continue to see dramatic changes that will not only transform ecosystems but that will more and more highlight the winners and losers. And I think our context will be a lot more losers than winners.”

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