GeoWorld January 2012

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NEWSLINK Report Card for Arctic Region Points to Big Transformations The Arctic is entering a new state characterized by warmer temperatures, less summer sea ice and snow, and a changed ocean chemistry, according to an international team of scientists. As the region transforms, land and sea life also is experiencing change—polar bears are coping with less habitat, while whales' potential feeding areas have grown. The group of scientists representing 14 countries documented the Arctic changes in a recently released 2011 "Arctic Report Card," which is issued annually. "This report, by a team of 121 scientists from around the globe, concludes that the Arctic region continues to warm, with less sea ice and greater green vegetation," said Monica Medina, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) prin- cipal deputy under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. "With a greener and warmer Arctic, more development is likely. Reports like this one help us to prepare for increasing demands on Arctic resources so that better decisions can be made about how to manage and protect these more valu- able and increasingly available resources." The report card draws on Earth data from multiple sources to present a snapshot of conditions in the Arctic. For example, in the realm of atmospheric conditions, the report card indicates that the aver- age annual near-surface air temperatures over much of the Arctic Ocean were approximately 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit greater when compared with a baseline period (1981-2010). When it comes to sea ice, the minimum Arctic sea ice area in September 2011 was the second lowest recorded by satellite since 1979, according to the report card. The report card also highlighted ocean changes. After a period of warming and freshening, Arctic Ocean temperature and salinity might be stabilizing. Meanwhile, ocean acidification—a result of carbon dioxide absorption—has been documented in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. On land, the picture also is one of changing condi- tions. Arctic tundra vegetation continues to increase, an effect associated with higher air temperatures over most of the Arctic land mass. The Arctic Report Card is available online at www. The annual report has grown out of a 2006 State of the Arctic Report pro- duced by NOAA's Climate Program Office. The 2011 report card has added sections for greenhouse gases, ozone and ultraviolet radiation, ocean acidification, Arctic Ocean primary productivity, and lake ice. USGS, NGA Collaborate on Fresh Elevation Model The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) teamed to develop a new "best available" global elevation model, the Global Multi-resolution Terrain Elevation Data 2010 (GMTED2010), which replaces the 15-year-old, widely used GTOPO30 terrain model. GMTED2010 relies on several high-quality eleva- A new report card for the Arctic highlights examples that show how the region is transforming. One key change: less summer sea ice. 6 GEO W ORLD /JANUAR Y 2O12 tion data sources that weren't available during the development of GTOPO30, including near-global Digital Terrain Elevation Data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission; Canadian elevation data; SPOT 5 Reference 3-D data; data from NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite; and updated Antarctica and Greenland terrain models. The GMTED2010 dataset also includes seven ras- ter elevation products at spatial resolutions of 30, 15 and 7.5 arc-seconds (approximately 1 kilometer, 500 Imagery/LIDAR Special Issue NOAA

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