- Publications and Research
- Climate Change
- Arctic Climate System
- Changing Ecosystems
- Climate Change and Human Health
- Conferences and Symposiums
- News, Analysis, and Opinion
- Northern Communities - Resilience and Adaptation
- Understanding Climate Change
- Witnesses to Change
- Food, Air, and Water
- Traditional Healing
- Governments and Organizations
- Indigenous Groups
- Other Organizations
Retreating Ice, Emerging Frontiers
- The Arctic's diminishing sea ice—Watch the Arctic's shrinking ice cap (shown in September of each year, when the ice reaches its annual low) and how shipping routes and extraction of natural resources might be affected.
- Arctic warming unlocking a fabled waterway—Temperatures in the Arctic are rising faster than anywhere else in the world, making the Northwest Passage easier to navigate. As the ice melts faster, the vitally strategic waterway is expected to open up for longer periods of time.
- In the Arctic race, the U.S. lags behind—Seattle is the home of the U.S. Coast Guard's entire fleet of polar-class icebreakers. Both of them. The Coast Guard has told Congress it needs at least three medium and three heavy icebreakers. Global warming means more activity in the Arctic, and more civilian vessels are venturing north into harm's way.
- In the land of white nights and Erik the Red—With the Arctic ice retreating from Greenland, some of the world's largest energy and mining companies are eager to explore for oil, gas, and rare earth minerals.
- Russia pushes to claim Arctic as its own—Murmansk, Russia, is the largest city above the Arctic Circle. If Russia follows through with plans to explore for oil and natural gas offshore in the Arctic Ocean, the city and its port could see significant economic benefits.
- Trying to unravel the mysteries of Arctic warming—The Arctic is heating up faster than anyplace on Earth, and as it heats the ice is growing thinner and melting faster. Scientists say that sometime this century the Arctic Ocean could be free of ice during the summers, and that transition is likely to be chaotic.
NPR's "Morning Edition," September 5, 2007. Steve Inskeep traveled to northern Canada, where he reported on how a warming climate is creating business opportunities.
Current Biology (2009) 19(18):R830-R831. Melting ice is increasing opportunities for local people.
Alaska Public Radio's "Alaska News Nightly," September 9, 2011. Speech presented by Thomas Mack, president of the Aleut Corporation, at the Arctic Imperative Summit in June 2011 at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska, in which he talks about the opening of Northwest Passage shipping lanes.
Arctic Council, 2009. The decision to conduct the AMSA followed the release in 2004 of two relevant Arctic Council reports. First, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) was a major study from which one of the key findings was that "reduced sea ice is very likely to increase marine transport and access to resources." The second report, the Arctic Marine Strategic Plan (AMSP), presented the council's strategic goals for protecting the Arctic marine environment. (PDF, 27.27 MB) Also available are background research papers.
NPR's "Day to Day," February 6. 2009. The Arctic ice pack is breaking up. Bad news for the global climate, but good news for commercial fishing fleets looking for untapped sources of wild seafood. Not so fast. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to close the Arctic waters off northern Alaska to fishing. This is in effect until scientists know more about the health and sustainability of the fish living under the now-retreating ice pack.
BBC News, May 12, 2011. Eight states with interests in the Arctic are meeting in Greenland to discuss management of natural resources and the impact of climate change.
BBC News, May 12, 2011. Warming temperatures threaten the livelihoods of hunters but are also expected to create new opportunities for commercial exploitation. Experts believe the Arctic has more than a fifth of the world's undiscovered oil and gas reserves.
Alaska Dispatch, August 12, 2011. The Northern Sea Route—a Russian term that can be broadly considered to encompass all the seas north of that country and is sometimes also called the Northeast Passage—saw 1.8 million tons of cargo in 2010, and the Ministry of Transport estimates that number will rocket to 64 million tons by 2020. (Archived version of webpage)
N. Williams. Current Biology (2010) 20(18):R787-R788. The summer melt in Arctic ice is attracting increasing commercial interest in exploiting this once pristine region.
S.R. Stephenson et al. Nature Climate Change (2011) 1:156-160. The authors present a new modeling framework to quantify changing access to oceans and landscapes northward of 40Â°N by mid-century. The analysis integrates climate and sea-ice model scenarios with topography, hydrography, land cover, transportation infrastructure, and human settlements.
N. Jones, Nature News, November 26, 2008. Greenland's residents have voted overwhelmingly to take a step closer to full independence. The move towards gaining the full status of 'country' has been spurred not just by feelings of national pride, many say, but by climate change.
BBC News, September 14, 2007. BBC correspondent James Painter asks, Will Greenland be a net beneficiary or a loser from climate change? On the one hand, it could lose a proud Inuit heritage of dog sleds and whale hunting, walruses, seals and polar bears. But on the other it may gain economically.
NPR's "Morning Edition," August 17, 2011. A fast-changing world is encroaching on the Arctic. Companies are exploring for minerals and oil and gas reserves. People in Greenland are watching anxiously, wondering what this means for them. There are environmental concerns but hopes that oil revenue would help the economy.
Yale Environment 360, June 2, 2011. A new study details the impact of sharply rising temperatures on Arctic land and sea transportation in the next 50 years, with access to crucial ice roads dropping significantly while three new shipping routes open up in an Arctic Ocean that will be largely ice free in summer.
J. Vidal, guardian.co.uk, October 5, 2011. Scandinavian shipowners say cargo routes through the Arctic, made possible by warmer temperatures, would save money and emissions.
K. Lydersen, OnEarth, February 22, 2010. An Arctic largely free of ice during the summer will mean new opportunities for fishing, oil and gas production, and shipping, in an area that is both extremely sensitive ecologically and highly unregulated.
T. Mcalister, guardian.co.uk, July 4, 2011. As rising temperatures expose more land for exploration, prospectors are rushing to the far north in the hope of carving out a new mineral frontier.
J. Parsons et al. Marine Policy (2011) 35(4):549-556. Climate change presages increasingly ice-free waters in the Canadian Arctic and fundamental reconfiguration of Asia-Europe and AsiaâUS East Coast marine transportation networks via the Northwest Passage. Retreating sea ice will impact the annual re-supply of goods to northern communities, natural resource development, cruise ship and adventure tourism activity, and the fishing industry.
D. O'Harra, Alaska Dispatch, August 31, 2011. The tanker that just set the all-time speed record for crossing the Northern Sea Route over Russia has successfully passed through Alaska's Bering Strait and delivered its natural gas cargo to Thailand. Credit the big melt. Arctic sea ice peeled back from Asia and North America faster than ever before in 2011, exposing vast expanses of open water along the Northern Sea Route over Russia earlier in the season than expected.
S. Goldenberg, guardian.co.uk, March 10, 2011. America urgently needs to build up its military readiness in the Arctic where melting summer sea ice is setting up a global struggle for resources, a study prepared for the US navy has warned.
NPR special series, August 15-20, 2011:
F. Weir, Alaska Dispatch, August 15, 2011. Within the next year, the Kremlin is expected to make its claim to the United Nations in a bold move to annex about 380,000 square miles of the internationally owned Arctic to Russian control. At stake is an estimated one-quarter of all the world's untapped hydrocarbon reserves, abundant fisheries, and a freshly opened route that will cut nearly a third off the shipping time from Asia to Europe. (Archived version of webpage)
J. Kruse et al. Polar Geography (2011) 34(1-2):1-143. This special issue of Polar Geography contains articles on each of the four arenas of human activity likely to involve climate-human interactions: (1) subsistence hunting; (2) tourism; (3) resource development and marine transportation; and (4) commercial fishing. Articles include: Arctic Observing Network Social Indicators Project: Overview • Developing an Arctic subsistence observation system • Observing trends and assessing data for Arctic mining • Social indicators for Arctic tourism: Observing trends and assessing data • Arctic observing network social indicators and northern commercial fisheries • Linking pan-Arctic human and physical data • Next steps toward an Arctic human dimensions observing system
J.M. Broder, New York Times, March 10, 2011. A report commissioned by the United States Navy concludes that climate change will pose profound challenges for the sea service in coming decades, including a need to secure Arctic shipping lanes, prepare for more frequent humanitarian missions, and protect coastal installations from rising seas.
E. Struzik. Yale Environment 360 (2008). As the Arctic's sea ice melts, energy and mining companies are moving into previously inaccessible regions to tap the abundant riches that lie beneath the permafrost and the ocean floor.
This is a series of articles published in the New York Times in October 2005 describing the effects of warming on the environment and on the four million people who live in the Arctic, and scientists' assessments of the inevitability of Arctic melting. Included are three videos: The Arctic Ice Cap where Andrew C. Revkin looks at the melting of the Arctic ice cap [7:19 min], Sampling the Ice where Revkin describes an expedition to drill samples in the Arctic [5:23 min], and Arctic Fisheries where Simon Romero looks at how changes in the Arctic may affect the Norwegian fishing industry [1:52 min].
J. Ho. Marine Policy (2010) 34(3):713-715. Current rates of warming indicate an earlier realization of a 'blue' Arctic Ocean than predicted. Routes along the coast of Siberia will be navigable much earlier. Before the Arctic routes can reliably be used on a large scale for transit by shipping along its passages, more investments are required in infrastructure and the provision of marine services to ensure the safe and secure transit of shipping with minimal environmental impact.
Yale Environment 360, March 11, 2011. A warming world will pose major challenges to the U.S. Navy in the coming century, including the need to secure shipping lanes opened by the melting Arctic Ocean and a threat to $100 billion in Navy installations imperiled by rising seas, according to a report commissioned by the Navy.
T. Mcalister, guardian.co.uk, July 6, 2011. The US is putting itself at the center of the debate about the future of the far north at a time when a new oil and mineral "cold rush" is under way as global warming makes extraction more easy.
H.A. Conley, Anchorage Daily News, December 27, 2011. The 21st-century Arctic will require strong coordination among the Arctic coastal states, other nations in close proximity to the Arctic such as Sweden, Iceland and Finland, and Arctic indigenous populations. The longer there is an ad-hoc approach to Arctic security, the greater the risk of misunderstandings, miscommunications, and accidents in this dark, ice-covered and hostile region.
T. Folger. National Geographic (2010) 217(6):48-67. In Greenland, apprehension about climate change is often overshadowed by great expectations. The Arctic meltdown has already started to open up access to oil, gas, and mineral resources that could give Greenland the financial and political independence its people crave.