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The Arctic Is Warming At An Astonishing Rate, A New Report Says

First Posted: Dec 16, 2016 03:00 AM EST

Researchers released this year's Arctic Report Card on Dec. 13 and there is bad news -- the Arctic continues to warm up at astonishing rates.

Presenting the findings at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its annual Arctic Report Card and it showed a continuation of long-term warming trends in the Arctic. 

The researchers had tallied record after record of high temperatures, shrinking ice sheets and low sea ice. "Personally, I would have to say that this last year has been the most extreme year for the Arctic that I have ever seen," Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, who was not part of the 106-page report, told the Associated Press.

The peer-reviewed report, which has been issued every year for the past decade, includes observations on the Arctic environment. Past reports have regarded 2016 as the hottest year on record but the situation in the Arctic is rather alarming.

The highlights of the report include the average surface air temperature for the year ending in September 2016 is the highest since 1990. On the other hand, new monthly record highs were recorded for January, February, October and November.

The Arctic Ocean is prone to ocean acidification because of water temperatures that are colder than those further south. The short Arctic food chain in the area makes marine ecosystems vulnerable to ocean acidification events.

Ocean temperatures were 5 degrees Celcius higher than the three-decade average off the coasts of Greenland. Also, the snow cover in North America reached a record low for spring, decreasing to 1.5 million square miles in May for the first time since the satellite made observations in 1967.

"We are witnessing changes in the Arctic that will impact generations to come. Warmer temperatures and dwindling sea ice not only threaten the future of Arctic wildlife but also its local cultures and communities," Margaret Williams, managing director for US Arctic programs from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said in a statement.

"These changes are impacting our entire planet, causing weather patterns to shift and sea levels to rise. Americans from California to Virginia will come to realize the Arctic's importance in their daily lives," she added.

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