Arctic Report Map 2022: The Arctic is hotter, rainier & weather

Arctic Certificate 2022

Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty

A reindeer is pictured in Longyearbyen on the island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway, May 6, 2022.

In the Arctic, the freedom to travel, hunt, and make day-to-day choices is deeply tied to cold and frost for much of the year. These conditions are changing rapidly as the Arctic warms.

The Arctic now sees more precipitation when historically it would snow. Sea ice, which once protected coasts from erosion during autumn storms, forms later. And the thinning ice of rivers and lakes makes snowmobiling increasingly life-threatening.

Shipping traffic in the Arctic is also increasing, posing new risks to fragile ecosystems, and the Greenland Ice Sheet continues to channel freshwater and ice into the ocean, causing global sea levels to rise

In the annual Arctic Report Mappublished December 13, 2022, we brought together 144 other Arctic scientists from 11 countries to examine the current state of the Arctic system.

The Arctic is becoming weather and rainier

Arctic Certificate 2022

NOAA Climate.govSome of the 2022 Arctic headlines discussed in the Arctic Report Card.

We found that Arctic precipitation increases in all seasonsand these seasons are shifting.

Much of this new precipitation now falls as rain, sometimes in winter and during traditionally frozen times of the year. This disrupts the daily lives of people, wildlife and plants.

Arctic Certificate 2022


Roads are more likely to become dangerously icy and communities are at greater risk of river flooding. For Indigenous reindeer herding communities, winter rains can form an impenetrable layer of ice, preventing their reindeer from accessing vegetation beneath the snow.

Across the Arctic, this shift to wetter conditions may disrupt the life of animals and plants that evolved for dry and cold conditions, and potentially alter the local diets of Arctic peoples.

When Fairbanks, Alaska, received 1.4 inches of freezing rain in December 2021, the moisture created a sheet of ice that lasted for months, toppling trees and disrupting travel, infrastructure and the ability of some Arctic animals to forage. The resulting layer of ice was large responsible for the death of a third of a bison herd in interior Alaska.

There are several reasons for this increase in Arctic precipitation.

As sea ice rapidly decreases, more open water is exposed, adding more moisture to the atmosphere. The entire arctic region has seen more than 40% loss of summer sea ice extent about the 44-year satellite record.

The Arctic atmosphere is also warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the worldand this warmer air can hold more moisture.

Arctic Certificate 2022

NOAA Climate.govThe Arctic Certificate 2022.

Below ground, the wetter, rainier Arctic is accelerating thawing of the permafrost, upon which most Arctic communities and infrastructure are built. The result is crumbling buildings, sagging and cracked roads, the emergence of sinkholes, and the collapse of coastal communities along rivers and oceans.

Weather also disrupts the buildup of reliable winter snowpack and safe, reliable river ice, and often challenges the efforts of Indigenous communities harvest and secure their food.

When Typhoon Merbok Struck in September 2022, fueled by unseasonably warm Pacific waters, its gale force winds, 50-foot waves and sweeping storm surges damaged homes and infrastructure over 1,000 miles of Bering Sea coastline and disrupted hunting and harvesting at a crucial time.

Arctic snow season is shrinking

Arctic Certificate 2022


Snow plays a crucial role in the Arctic and the snow season is shrinking.

Snow helps keep the Arctic cool by reflecting incoming solar radiation back into space, rather than allowing it to be absorbed by the darker, snow-free ground. His presence helps Sea ice lasts longer into spring and helps the soil retain moisture longer in summer, preventing overly dry conditions for which it is ripe devastating forest fires.

Snow is also a travel platform for hunters and a habitat for many animals that depend on it for nesting and protection from predators.

A shrinking snow season disrupts these critical functions. For example, the extent of June snowpack in the Arctic is decreasing at a rate of almost 20% per decade, marking a dramatic change in the definition and experience of the snow season in the north.

Even in the dead of winter, warmer temperatures break through. The town of Utqiaġvik in far northern Alaska reached 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 C) – 8 F above freezing – on December 5, 2022, although the sun does not break through the horizon from mid-November to mid-January.

Fatal falls through thin sea, sea and river ice are ascending throughout Alaska, adding to immediate tragedies as well cumulative human costs of climate change that the indigenous peoples of the Arctic are now experiencing on a generational basis.

Arctic Certificate 2022


Greenland ice melt means global problems

The effects of Arctic warming are not limited to the Arctic. In 2022 the The Greenland ice sheet has lost ice for the 25th year in a row. This contributes to sea level rise, increasing the risk that coastal communities around the world must plan for to mitigate flooding and storm surges.

In early September 2022, the Greenland ice sheet experienced one unprecedented late-season melting event covering 36% of the ice sheet surface. This was followed that same month by another, even later, melt event caused by the remnants of Hurricane Fiona moving along eastern North America.

International teams of scientists are dedicated to assessing the extent to which ice formation and ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet have become unbalanced. They are also increasingly learning about the transformative role that warming ocean water is playing.

Arctic Certificate 2022


This year’s Arctic Report Card includes Results from NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) mission. This has confirmed that warming ocean temperatures are increasing ice loss at the edges of the ice sheet.

Man-made changes are transforming the Arctic

We live in a new geological age – the Anthropocene — where human activities have the dominant impact on our climate and environment.

In the warming Arctic, this requires decision-makers to better anticipate the interplay between a changing climate and human activities. This has been clearly shown, for example, by satellite-supported ship data since 2009 maritime ship traffic has increased in all Arctic high seas and national exclusive economic zones as the region warmed.

Arctic Certificate 2022


For these ecologically sensitive waters, this additional shipping traffic raises pressing concerns ranging from the future of Arctic trade routes to even greater human-caused pressures on Arctic peoples, ecosystems and climate. These concerns are particularly acute given the uncertainty surrounding the current geopolitical tensions between Russia and the other Arctic states over its war in Ukraine.

Rapid warming of the Arctic requires new forms of partnership and information sharing, including between scientists and indigenous knowledge bearers. Working together and building resilience can help mitigate some risks, but global action to curb greenhouse gas pollution is critical for the entire planet.The conversation

By Matthew L. DruckenmillerResearch Scientists, National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado Boulder; Rick ThomasAlaska Climate Specialist, University of Alaska Fairbanksand Twila moonDeputy Lead Scientist, National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado Boulder

This article is republished by The conversation under a Creative Commons license. read this original article. Arctic Report Map 2022: The Arctic is hotter, rainier & weather

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