In the 2019 edition of its annual Arctic Report Card, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns of rapid changes driven by warming in the far north – including changes to the Bering Sea fisheries that provide 40 percent of the annual U.S catch. Arctic and subarctic fish species are shifting to the north, a phenomenon corresponding to a loss of sea ice and warming bottom temperatures.
Since 1980, surface air temperatures have risen throughout the Arctic. The annually-averaged land based surface air temperature from October 2018 through September 2019 was the second-highest on record (the highest was in 2016). Every year since 2014, the average has exceeded that experienced between 1900 – when recordkeeping began – and 2013.
That warming parallels the loss of Arctic sea ice cover. The end-of-summer minimum extent this September was tied for second-lowest (along with 2007 and 2016) in the 41-year satellite record. It is also getting thinner. Old ice of four years or more now makes up just one percent of the coverage, down from 33 percent in 1985. Thinner, more fragile first-year ice now makes up more than three-quarters of the total. Read on.