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Arctic Report Card: Update for 2020
The sustained transformation to a warmer, less frozen and biologically changed Arctic remains clear
Archive of previous Arctic Report Cards
2020 Arctic Report Card

About Arctic Report Card 2020

The Arctic Report Card (hereafter ‘ARC’) has been issued annually since 2006. It is a timely and peer-reviewed source for clear, reliable, and concise environmental information on the current state of different components of the Arctic environmental system relative to historical records. The ARC is intended for a wide audience, including scientists, teachers, students, decision-makers, policymakers, and the general public, interested in the Arctic environment and science.

ARC 2020 contains 16 essay contributions prepared by an international team of 134 researchers from 15 different countries. As in previous years, independent peer review of ARC 2020 was organized by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) of the Arctic Council.

ARC 2020 is organized into three sections: Vital Signs, Other Indicators, and Frostbites. The Vital Signs section is for annual updates on seven recurring topics: Surface Air Temperature; Terrestrial Snow Cover; Greenland Ice Sheet; Sea Ice; Sea Surface Temperature; Arctic Ocean Primary Productivity; and Tundra Greenness. The Other Indicators section is for topics that are updated every 2-4 years, many of which have appeared in previous ARCs (e.g., Glaciers and Ice Caps Outside Greenland, Wildfires, and Marine Mammals, to name a few). The Frostbites section is for reports on new and newsworthy items, describing emerging issues, and addressing topics that relate to long-term scientific observations in the Arctic. In recognition of the publication’s 15th anniversary, ARC2020 also offers reflections on the evolution of the ARC itself and the tools utilized to help understand the changes in progress. Additionally, ARC2020 is unveiling a public ARC Data Portal in cooperation with the NSF Arctic Data Center to increase the transparency of the ARC and its underlying datasets. Like so much else, ARC2020 was altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. A planned essay featuring the viewpoints from Indigenous community members on the influences of a changing Arctic on food security had to be postponed due to travel and community-related exposure restrictions.

People occasionally ask questions such as “How are essay topics selected?” or “Why is topic X not in the Arctic Report Card?” The short answer is that each ARC strives to include some recurrent topics as well as new topics, and thus covers many subjects over a period of years. In this way the ARC achieves a comprehensiveness over time that is not possible in any given year, especially considering the significant time constraints in its production schedule. A complete list of topics covered since the first publication of the ARC is available at the Report Card Archive. Click on these hyperlinks for a list of all ARC 2020 authors and their affiliations, and a list of references for all 16 essays.


Financial support for Arctic Report Card 2020 was provided by NOAA’s Global Ocean Monitoring & Observing Arctic Research Program, including content editing through the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP), a Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments program of the NOAA award NA16OAR4310162 (Thoman), through the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) via NOAA Cooperative Agreement #NA16NOS0120027 (Richter-Menge), and through the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) via NOAA Cooperative Agreement #NA17OAR4320101 (Druckenmiller). The editors thank AMAP for organizing the independent peer review and those who provided review comments. The editors would also like to acknowledge Ben DeAngelo, Deputy Director of NOAA’s Climate Program Office and Vice-Chair of AMAP, for his guidance and oversight as NOAA Executive Editor.

How to Cite Arctic Report Card 2020

Citing the complete report or Executive Summary:
Thoman, R. L., J. Richter-Menge, and M. L. Druckenmiller, Eds., 2020: Arctic Report Card 2020,

Citing an essay (example):
Frey, K. E., J. C. Comiso, L. W. Cooper, J. M. Grebmeier, and L. V. Stock, 2020: Arctic Ocean primary productivity: The response of marine algae to climate warming and sea ice decline. Arctic Report Card 2020, R. L. Thoman, J. Richter-Menge, and M. L. Druckenmiller, Eds.,
(Note: Each essay has a unique DOI assigned to it)

Media Contact Information

Theo Stein
NOAA Communications
(303) 819-7409

Banner Photograph

Yamal Peninsula wildland fire, Siberia, 2017 (credit: Jeffrey T. Kerby, National Geographic Society, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)

December 8, 2020

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