This year was especially volatile for the Arctic, as climate change — sometimes literally — destabilizes the region, according to NOAA’s 2022 Arctic Report Card, released Tuesday. The past seven years have been the Arctic’s hottest seven years since 1900, and the impacts are widespread and include everything from monster storms and supercharged wildfires, to permafrost melt and massive bison die-offs when winter rain freezes on top of the snow, blocking the animals from the plants below and starving them to death.
“Our homes, livelihoods and physical safety are threatened by the rapid-melting ice, thawing permafrost, increasing heat, wildfires and other changes,” Jackie Qatalina Schaeffer (Inupiaq from Kotzebue, Alaska), author of the Report Card’s chapter on local communities and head of climate initiatives for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, told the New York Times. The heatwaves this summer and fall — September temperatures in Greenland were 36°F above normal — also caused extreme ice melt that contributed to sea level rise. The region’s destabilized climate is also altering the timing and supply of available food for birds that are “nutritionally and economically essential” to the region, Gay Sheffield, a U. of Alaska-Fairbanks biologist and Report Card co-author, told the AP. (Washington Post $, New York Times $, Gizmodo; Birds: AP, CBS; Author commentary: The Conversation)