Protecting Life in the Arctic

Climate change is rapidly melting the arctic's sea ice 

Pew's Arctic projects work to protect the Arctic Ocean and its marine life from rapid industrialization made possible by the warming climate and the melting ice cap. We work in the US, in Canada, in Greenland and in the shared International waters of the Arctic.

Alaska is home to America’s Arctic, one of the most beautiful, fragile, remote, and extreme places on earth. In this land of ice and snow, indigenous communities have thrived for thousands of years by living a traditional way of life sustained by the region’s natural bounty. Here, one of the world’s last relatively untouched marine ecosystems provides habitat for iconic species such as polar bears, walrus, ice seals and bowhead whales.

Climate change is warming the Arctic at twice the rate of the rest of the planet, causing a rapid melting of the ice pack and fundamentally altering this region’s ecosystems. At the same time, the loss of sea ice is opening this vibrant place to new industrial development, from oil and gas drilling to commercial fishing and shipping. (Watch Sylvia Earle, renowned ocean explorer, speak about our changing oceans and the Arctic.)

Before such development is allowed to proceed, a comprehensive science-based plan must be put in place to prevent irreparable damage to the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the U.S. Arctic Ocean. In the next decade, the nation faces a historic choice: whether to allow unchecked exploitation of the U.S. Arctic Ocean or to ensure that scientific research and adequate consultation with indigenous peoples guide a path to sustainable development.

In the southeast Bering Sea, the world-class commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay must be protected from oil and gas development that could damage the nation’s “fish basket.” This region produces more than 40 percent of the country’s seafood and is home to the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon run.

The Protecting Life in the Arctic project focuses on using science to understand and reduce potential risks to the Arctic from climate change and industrial development, including oil and gas activities, commercial fishing and industrial shipping. The program works closely with scientists, Alaska Natives, the U.S. government, local communities and conservation groups to achieve key policy goals for protecting the Arctic ecosystem.

The Protecting Life in the Arctic project focuses on:

Media Contact

Christine Fletcher

Officer, Communications