Snow covers the Arctic land surface (land areas north of 60° N) for up to 9 months each year, and influences the surface energy budget, ground thermal regime, and freshwater budget of the Arctic.
Report Card 2019
The Greenland ice sheet sits atop the largest island in the world and, as the second largest ice sheet on the Earth, contains the equivalent of roughly 7.4 m of global mean sea level rise. While the ice sheet was likely in balance (i.e., ice mass gain was balancing ice mass loss) during the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s, it began to lose mass in earnest beginning in the mid- to late-1990s.
Sea ice is an important element of the Arctic system because it (1) acts as a barrier between the underlying ocean and the atmosphere, (2) limits the amount of absorbed solar energy during the summer due to its high albedo, (3) provides a habitat for biological activity, (4) limits human access to the Arctic Ocean, and (5) serves as a platform for Indigenous community hunting and travel.
Arctic Ocean Primary Productivity: The Response of Marine Algae to Climate Warming and Sea Ice Decline
Autotrophic single-celled algae living in sea ice (ice algae) and water column (phytoplankton) are the main primary producers in the Arctic Ocean. Through photosynthesis, they transform dissolved inorganic carbon into organic material. Consequently, primary production provides a key ecosystem service by providing energy to the entire food web in the oceans.
Arctic lands and seas have experienced dramatic environmental and climatic changes in recent decades. These changes have been reflected in progressive increases in the aboveground quantity of live vegetation across most of the Arctic tundra biome-the treeless environment encircling most of the Arctic Ocean. This trend of increasing biomass is often referred to as “the greening of the Arctic.”
The ivory gull (Pagophila eburnea) is a high-arctic seabird associated with sea-ice throughout the year. It breeds at high latitudes, mostly in the Atlantic sector of the Arctic.
Comparison of Near-bottom Fish Densities Show Rapid Community and Population Shifts in Bering and Barents Seas
Marine populations are expected to remain within their preferred thermal conditions, and therefore to shift their spatial distributions to track changes in ocean temperatures. Many different indicators show changes in Arctic physical conditions, with an increased rate of change from 2005 to present day. Given these rapid physical changes and expected responses of marine populations to changing thermal conditions, the spatial distribution of Arctic and subarctic fish communities will likely be a sensitive indicator for contemporary and ongoing Arctic climate change.