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Opportunities and challenges from melting Arctic icecap discussed at CEOI Challenge Workshop

16 October 2013

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Observations from satellites (IceSat and CryoSat 2) have shown that the annual minimum of Arctic sea ice cover is shrinking, both in extent year on year, and possibly in thickness and volume. If warming trends continue, as is likely, we may see ice-free summers in the Arctic within the next decade. This will create both commercial opportunities and environmental threats. The opportunities include:

  • New northerly sea routes between Russia, Europe, Canada, the North Sea, the Atlantic, the Bering Strait, and on to the Pacific
  • Opportunities for resource extraction including oil and gas reserves in the Arctic basin bordering the Arctic states
  • Opportunities for fisheries as species retreat to colder Arctic waters

While the environmental threats include:

  • Changing local and global weather patterns
  • Loss of habitat for wildlife
  • Threats to indigenous peoples
  • Safety of life issues
  • Pollution of the pristine polar environment

Source: European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC)

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