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NOAA, Arctic Council Release 2012 Arctic Report Card

7 December 2012: The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with the support of two working groups of the Arctic Council, has released the 2012 update to the Arctic Report Card. The Report Card, which has been published since 2006 tracks environmental changes in the region, including with regard to the atmosphere, sea ice and ocean, marine ecosystems, terrestrial ecosystems and the terrestrial cryosphere.

The report card concludes that although surface temperatures were not extreme during 2012, the year set new records in terms of many melting indicators. In particular, 2012 recorded the lowest September sea ice extent, shortest terrestrial snow cover duration, lowest snow cover extent in some regions during some months, and the highest extent and longest duration of melting at the surface of the Greenland ice sheet.

Furthermore the report card states that changes in snow and ice are impacting both marine and terrestrial species with increases in productivity in both environments. New populations have been observed such as algal species inhabiting "melt holes" seen for the first time in perennial sea ice in the central Arctic Ocean and increased abundance of Red Fox moving north due to increased temperatures. However, in contract, the growth of mosses and lichens in the tundra is decreasing.

Overall, the report card continues to record dramatic changes in Arctic ecosystems and states that additional work on biodiversity monitoring is required to fully understand the impact of such changes, including with regards to migratory birds.

For this year's issue, the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) developed and edited the terrestrial and marine ecosystem chapters in cooperation with others, while the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) organized an independent peer-review process involving international experts. [Publication: Arctic Report Card: Update for 2012]