2010 Arctic Report Card

Last week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its 2010 Arctic Report Card, which reported that so far this year Greenland has experienced record-setting high air temperatures, ice loss, and marine-terminating glacier area loss. Summer seasonal average (June-August) air temperatures around Greenland were 0.6 to 2.4°C above the 1971-2000 baseline, and temperatures were highest in the western part of the country. The hot summer followed a warm and dry winter, resulting in the highest melt rate since at least 1958. The area and duration of ice sheet melting was higher than any previous year on record since at least 1978.

Scientists observed large glacier area loss, particularly at the Petermann Glacier, where 290 km2 of ice broke away. The rate of area loss in marine-terminating glaciers this year (419 km2) was 3.4 times that of the previous 8 years, when regular observations are available. There is now clear evidence that the ice area loss rate of the past decade (averaging 120 km2/year) is greater than loss rates pre-2000.

CH2M HILL Polar Services supports much of the science and research that contributed to the Arctic Report Card.  —Rachel Walker