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Arctic Report Card 2023: Key Highlights

Context:

Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its 18th Annual Arctic Report Card, highlighting the profound impact of extreme weather and Climate Events on the Arctic.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Arctic Report Card 2023: Key Highlights
  2. About Arctic and Arctic Report Card

Arctic Report Card 2023: Key Highlights

Record Summer Warmth:
  • The Arctic experienced its warmest summer on record in 2023.
  • The region has warmed nearly four times faster than the global average since 1979.
  • Ranked as the sixth warmest year in the Arctic since 1900.
Impact of Extreme Weather:
  • Unprecedented wildfires, leading to evacuations, decline in sea ice extent, severe floods, food insecurity, and rising sea levels.
  • Direct consequences on ecosystems, human health, and cultural practices.
Thawing Permafrost and Greenhouse Gas Release:
  • Warmer ocean temperatures accelerating subsea permafrost thaw, releasing methane and carbon dioxide.
  • Concerns about the unknown extent and impact of released greenhouse gases.
Decline in Salmon Populations:
  • Western Alaska saw significant reductions in Chinook and chum salmon populations.
  • Impacts Indigenous communities with cultural, food security, and economic implications.
Worst Wildfire Season in Canada:
  • Canada experienced its worst wildfire season, affecting 40% of Arctic and Northern lands.
  • Over 10 million acres burned in the Northwest Territories, leading to evacuations and air quality issues.
Mendenhall Glacier Thinning and Flooding:
  • Dramatic thinning of Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier over the past two decades.
  • Glacier meltwater causing annual floods, with a notable event in August 2023 causing severe property damage.
Greenland Ice Sheet Melting:
  • Greenland’s ice sheet melted for the fifth time in 34 years.
  • Despite above-average winter snow accumulation, the ice sheet lost approximately 350 trillion pounds of mass between August 2022 and September 2023.
  • Significant contributor to sea-level rise.

About Arctic and Arctic Report Card

Arctic
  • The Arctic is the northernmost polar region on Earth, characterized by seasonally changing snow and ice cover on its land.
  • This expansive area includes the Arctic Ocean, surrounding seas, and portions of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.
Arctic Report Card
  • The Arctic Report Card, issued annually since 2006, serves as a timely and peer-reviewed resource.
  • Providing clear, reliable, and concise information, it offers insights into the current state of various Arctic environmental components compared to historical records.
  • This report is a valuable reference for understanding the ongoing changes in the Arctic environmental system.

-Source: Indian Express


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