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 Bering Strait is the narrow gateway between the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. The region is home to indigenous communities and supports a mass migration of marine species – including bowhead whales, walrus and millions of seabirds – twice a year. As sea ice recedes from this area and ship traffic increases, rules must be developed to promote safe shipping and minimize the inherent risks. Read More
This week, after years of planning, the U.S. Coast Guard released draft recommendations for the first shipping routes through the Bering Strait, the gateway between the Pacific and Arctic oceans. Read More
A new paper co-authored by Pew staff (Henry Huntington, Raychelle Daniel, Marilyn Heiman, and Melissa Prior-Parks) and colleagues on safe shipping in the Bering Strait was published in the journal Marine Policy. The paper, “Vessels, risks, and rules: Planning for safe shipping in Bering Strait,” discusses the risks posed by increased commercial vessel traffic and suggests regulatory... Read More