2012: a record-breaking year

The NOAA/AMS published its 2012 State of the Climate report. Written by 384 scientists from 52 nations, it details global climate indicators and other environmental monitoring data.

Highlights include:

  • The Arctic has seen the most alarming changes, warming at twice the rate of lower latitudes. The Arctic sea ice minimum for 2012 was the lowest in all satellite record. Permafrost in northern Alaska reached its highest-ever recorded temperature. The Greenland ice sheet showed four times the usual melt in July, a new record – 97% of it showed melt signs.
  • Antarctic sea ice maximum reached a record high in September.
  • Globally, average 2012 sea surface temperatures were among the 11 warmest on record, say four datasets. Ocean heat content (top 2,300ft), stayed near record high temperatures, and heat increases were seen at depths of 2,300-6,000ft and even deeper.
  • Sea levels reached a record high.
  • Ocean salinity continued to change as it has since 2004, with intensifying evaporation in dry areas and intensifying precipitation in already rainy areas.
  • Concentrations of major greenhouse gases rose, reaching a new predicted record high in 2012. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations passed the 400ppm mark for the first time ever in spring 2012.
  • Earth’s lower stratosphere, 6-10 miles above the surface, was at record or near-record lows, according to different datasets (greenhouse gases cool the stratosphere but warm the portion nearer the Earth’s crust).