America's Arctic, located entirely in Alaska, is one of the most beautiful and forbidding places on earth. Home to indigenous peoples who subsist by hunting and fishing, the Arctic also supports some of the world's last intact marine ecosystems. Important species—including polar bears, walruses and ice seals, along with bowhead, beluga and gray whales—live here. Diverse fish and invertebrate populations also thrive in Arctic waters, and the region hosts some of the largest seabird populations in the world. The Arctic also helps to ventilate the planet: its cold air and water circulate atmospheric and ocean currents that regulate temperatures worldwide.
But this vital area faces unparalleled challenges from climate change, seasonal sea ice loss, ocean acidification and encroaching industrial activities such as oil and gas development and commercial shipping and fishing.