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Feds: Arctic saw record-low sea ice, second warmest year on record

Feds: Arctic saw record-low sea ice, second warmest year on record
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The Arctic experienced its “second warmest air temperatures, above average ocean temperatures, loss of sea ice, and a range of human, ocean and ecosystem effects” in 2017 due to a persistent warming trend in the region, federal scientists said Tuesday.

In its annual Arctic Report Card, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) detailed the ongoing impact of climate change on the region, which is experiencing a warming trend faster than much of the rest of the world.

Fewer weather-related records fell in 2017 than last year. But NOAA found that the rate of sea ice decline and warm temperatures are higher than any time in the last 1,500 years.

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Scientists said that “the Arctic shows no sign of returning to the reliably frozen region it was decades ago.”

According to the report, the average annual temperature over land in the Arctic was 2.9 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1981–2010 average, or the second highest on record, after 2016. Sea surface temperatures in August were 7.2 degrees above average in two Arctic seas.

The Arctic observed its lowest-ever maximum sea ice coverage in March, the month Arctic sea ice is traditionally at its largest.

At the time, federal scientists said sea ice coverage reached an extent of 5.57 million square miles, or 471,000 square miles below average. This year was the third straight to break the smallest ice coverage record.

NOAA concluded that “observations in 2017 continue to indicate that the Arctic environmental system has reached a 'new normal.’”