Researchers predict that nearly ice-free summers are on the way, although it’s not yet clear when this will happen.
Arctic sea-ice extent shrank to an unprecedented low this summer, part of a long-term decline in the icy white cap over the far northern ocean.
Researchers predict that nearly ice-free summers are on the way, although it’s not yet clear when this will happen. This shift has implications for climate — in particular, it is expected to aggravate global warming — and for the animals, such as polar bears and walruses, which depend on the ice for habitat.
But the loss of ice over the Arctic Ocean also opens up the possibility for increased shipping, tourism, oil and gas exploration, and fishing. But this potential development raises challenges with which nations will have to grapple, said Anne Siders, a postdoctoral researcher with the Columbia Center for Climate Change Law, to an audience at Columbia University Wednesday (Sept. 19).
Siders was among a panel of researchers who discussed the science behind the declining sea ice, the suite of changes occurring in the Arctic and public perception of it. [10 Things You Need to Know About Arctic Sea Ice]
A predictably open Arctic Ocean creates opportunities and challenges for nations that ring the Arctic. Here are some of them.
Fishing: Warming ocean temperatures, migrating fish and changes in sea ice may create conditions favorable to the development of new commercial fisheries within the Arctic, according to the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). A U.S. plan, approved in 2009, temporarily prohibits commercial fishing in U.S. Arctic waters until more information is available.
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