The Arctic Ocean is one the most pristine marine regions on the planet.  It includes Baffin Bay in Canada and the Beaufort Sea in the United States and Canada. In the Arctic Ocean, there is a burst of plankton growth in spring that helps sustain all living things in the region for much of the rest of the year.  The Arctic’s sea ice creates an ecosystem with many species found nowhere else on earth.  The ice also reflects sunlight, which helps regulate global temperatures.  But the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet, altering both human communities and natural systems.

By the numbers

  • 800,000 years in which there has been at least some sea ice in the Arctic Ocean year round.

    4 million
     people call the Arctic region home

    miles from Arctic to nearest Coast Guard station in the event of oil spill or shipping accident

Our Work

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  • Safeguarding Important Areas in the Arctic Ocean

    The U.S. Arctic Ocean supports unique species found nowhere else in the country and is home to indigenous Inupiat people who have thrived on its bounty for thousands of years. The Pew Charitable Trusts believes that a balance must be struck between responsible economic development and preservation of ecosystem integrity and function in the Arctic Ocean. Safeguarding especially important areas can... Read More

  • Arctic Shipping Rules Needed to Protect Alaska Region

    More vessels are crossing the Arctic than ever before. Traffic through one passage, the Northern Sea Route in Russia, increased from just two vessels in 2009 to 71 vessels in 2013. Experts forecast that the volume of cargo coming through that route is likely to increase from 1.36 million tons in 2013 to 4 million tons this year and 65 million tons by 2020. But despite some recent progress, ships... Read More

  • Monitoring the Floe Edge in Nunavut’s Eclipse Sound

    A research team from The Pew Charitable Trusts' Oceans North Canada project and the Institute of Marine Science at the Université du Québec à Rimouski mounted time-lapse camera stations on the remote coast of north Baffin Island to help monitor the environmental impact of an iron ore mine’s proposal for an extended shipping season through landfast ice in Eclipse Sound. Read More