Race To The Arctic
The Arctic may be the world's next geopolitical battleground. Temperatures there are rising faster than anywhere else in the world, and the melting ice will have profound consequences on the roof of the world, opening strategic waterways to shipping, reducing the ice cap on Greenland, and spurring a rush to claim rights to the wealth of natural resources that lie beneath. NPR examines what's at stake, who stands to win and lose, and how this could alter the global dynamic.
A polar bear makes its way across the ice in Canada's Northwest Passage. Melting ice in the Arctic will make survival increasingly difficult for wildlife in the region.
The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the Earth, and sea ice is rapidly disappearing during the summer months. Some studies now suggest the Arctic Ocean could be free of ice in the summertime by the year 2030, with major repercussions in the region and beyond.
August 19, 2011 The warming Arctic is opening up to increased activity, but the U.S. has not been a major player so far. For now, its polar capabilities are limited. Also, the U.S. isn't party to a major treaty that will shape territorial claims in the region.
August 17, 2011 As temperatures rise and the ice retreats, change is coming to Greenland, the world's largest island, and its 56,000 residents. For now, though, the slow life there still revolves largely around hunting and family, as a recent visit shows.
August 16, 2011 Ever since the Soviet Union collapsed two decades ago, many Russians have felt they were a nation in retreat. But Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sees the Arctic as a place for Russia to expand, with an eye on its natural resources.
August 15, 2011 For centuries, the ice-choked Northwest Passage has been prized as a potential trade route. Now, rising Arctic temperatures mean the waterway is expected to open up for longer periods — a boon for shipping companies seeking a shortened trade route and for nations vying for untapped natural resources.