By Victoria Burton, Stephane Mangeon, Christoph Mazur, Simon Moulds, Jonathan Ritson, Philip Sandwell, Rebecca Short, and Patric Simoes Pereira
The Arctic is changing, both environmentally and economically. What was once one of the most inaccessible areas on Earth is now making headlines as the effects of climate change become more apparent.
This year saw the United States assume the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum established in 1996 to facilitate political dialogue and cooperation in the region. The goals set by the current Chair are to improve the living conditions of the indigenous communities, maintain safety and security in the Arctic Ocean, and address the impacts of climate change. Already there is a focus on the increase in Arctic activity which is likely to occur in the decades to come: the region holds vast reservoirs of fossil fuels (see this article for a map of natural gas reserves) and retreating sea-ice will open new routes for international shipping. The impacts of climate change are, and will be, dramatic in the region, and each new economic opportunity also brings a risk to the fragile Arctic environment.