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
950 miles from Arctic to nearest Coast Guard station in the event of oil spill or shipping accident
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The U.S. Department of the Interior has proposed a suite of Arctic technology and equipment standards for offshore oil and gas exploration. These draft rules are the first of their kind for the Arctic and will set a minimum standard for exploration drilling in this area. Read More
In February 2015, the federal government proposed new rules for offshore oil and gas companies to improve safety and prevent spills in the U.S. Arctic Ocean. Until the rule is finalized, no Arctic-specific standards exist, even though the region is much more remote and the conditions much more challenging than in the temperate waters where most of our country’s offshore drilling occurs. Read More