Accession Number : AD1013634

Title :   Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

Descriptive Note : Technical Report


Personal Author(s) : O'Rourke,Ronald

Full Text :

Report Date : 12 May 2016

Pagination or Media Count : 113

Abstract : The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the regions future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region. On January 21, 2015, President Obama issued an executive order for enhancing coordination of national efforts in the Arctic. The United States assumed the chairmanship of the Arctic Council on April 24, 2015, and will serve in that capacity for two years. Record low extents of Arctic sea ice over the past decade have focused scientific and policy attention on links to global climate change and projected ice-free seasons in the Arctic within decades. These changes have potential consequences for weather in the United States, access to mineral and biological resources in the Arctic, the economies and cultures of peoples in the region, and national security. The five Arctic coastal statesthe United States, Canada, Russia, Norway, and Denmark (of which Greenland is a territory)have made or are in the process of preparing submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf regarding the outer limits of their extended continental shelves. The Russian submission includes the underwater Lomonosov Ridge, a feature that spans a considerable distance across the Arctic Ocean. The diminishment of Arctic ice could lead in coming years to increased commercial shipping on two trans-Arctic sea routesthe Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage. Current international guidelines for ships operating in Arctic waters are being updated.

Descriptors :   Arctic regions , POLAR REGIONS , Coast Guard operations

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE