What The Vanishing Arctic Ice Means For Scientific Voyages And Competition

When one door closes, another opens. This is usually used to refer to opportunity in the most unlikely of places, and technically, that’s certainly one way of looking at the vanishing of the Arctic ice, which is now slowly opening the region to changes. Whether those changes are good or bad however, they remain to be seen.

An Unlikely Door

For many years, the harsh environment and weather of the Arctic has stopped nations from assessing all of its natural resources as well as making use of its shipping routes. This meant that for the most part, only scientists (and not many of them at that) have access to the region.

However, as the warming climate have started thawing the once impenetrable ice barriers surrounding the region, economic activity has steadily entered the region, slowly but surely becoming a hotspot for  both power and competition.

“The region has become an arena for power and for competition, and the eight Arctic states must adapt to this new future . We’re entering a new age of strategic engagement in the Arctic, complete with new threats to the Arctic and its real estate, and to all of our interests in that region,” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said during remarks at the 11th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council back in May.

China for example, while not having any territorial claims on the region, plans on decreasing its presence in the region by declaring that it’s a “near Arctic state.” However, according to the strategies created during the aforementioned council, the United States does not recognize this status at all.

“China and Russia pose discrete and different challenges in their respective theaters, but both are also pursuing activities and capabilities in the Arctic that may present risks to the homeland,” the report said.

Besides the nations, scientific voyages to the ice are also to be expected more, with scientists using the window to understand climate change more then come up with new strategies to try and stop it from further affecting not just the Arctic, but the entire world as well.

Arctic genes Evolutionary changes that helped people survive in the Arctic more than 6,000 years ago is harmful to human health now. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock