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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Secretary of State John Kerry will host the third annual Our Ocean conference in Washington from Sept. 15 and 16. Global leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, innovators, and representatives from nongovernmental organizations will discuss the major challenges facing the world’s oceans and how to address them. Read More
On Aug. 15, I moderated a Pew webinar with Roger Rufe, former vice admiral of the U.S. Coast Guard, and Austin Ahmasuk, an advocate with Kawerak Inc., a tribal nonprofit based in Nome, Alaska, that advocates for Alaska Native communities, to discuss the cultural, ecological, and economic stakes of increased vessel traffic in this sensitive Arctic region. Read More
In June 2015, Pew, along with Audubon Alaska, Friends of the Earth, Oceana, the Ocean Conservancy, Pacific Environment, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and WWF, submitted recommendations on a Port Access Route Study (PARS) for the northern Bering Sea and the Bering Strait that is being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard. Read More