Christmas Eve 2015, Paris.
Well Santa has come and gone, at least for the largest proportion of the world’s population. And, as we reach the end of the year, it is inevitably time to review recent trends and the prospects for 2016…
Think Arctic, think stranded polar bears? There's more to it than that.
Rene van der Wal
A team of researchers went to the High Arctic to retrace the steps of a 1960s expedition. They came away with far more than they bargained for.
The warming global climate is causing fundamental changes to the carbon cycle in northern parts of the world.
Global warming is changing the movement of carbon within northern ecosystems to the point where the Arctic could become a net source, rather than sink, of greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon in some types of ancient permafrost is digested by greenhouse gas-producing microbes.
US Bureau of Land Management
Scientists are studying how carbon-rich permafrost known as yedoma acts much like frozen vegetables to hungry microbes -- and is becoming an additional source of heat-trapping gases.
Time to move on: Shell’s Kulluk rig being rescued by Coast Guard in 2013.
US Department of Defense
Did environmentalists force Shell to exit the Arctic? Not really. Blame economics and geopolitics first and foremost.
Troubles with Shell: in 2013, its drill became stranded and had to be rescued.
Aaron M. Johnson/US Air Force
Shell has abandoned oil exploration offshore Alaska for now but a variety of trends are driving the energy industry to take a fresh look at Arctic drilling.
Stay alert, make lots of noise, and if all else fails, carry a big gun.
Hot spot for much-needed research.
The House proposes slashing funding for earth science from NASA's budget, yet this science is critical to understanding – and coping with – the dramatic effects of a warming Arctic around the world.
New Arctic map, with August 2015 Russian claims shown in pale yellow.
Maps depicting Russia's old and new bids to the Arctic seabed are being misinterpreted to fuel fears about the nation's expansion.
Virgin territory. Sunrise over the Arctic resources battleground.
NOAA Photo Library
The economic viability of extracting oil from the frozen north might be doubtful, but the geopolitical significance could be massive.
Time to get cracking: a Canadian research vessel in the Arctic.
John F. Williams/Office of Naval Research
A melting Arctic means new areas will be open to commercial fishing but scientists – and bordering countries – say they need time to study the ecological and economic risks.
In some regions of the Arctic, polar bears will spend their entire lives on sea ice or the ocean.
Could polar bears slip into a hibernation-like state to tough out lean hunting during summers with little sea ice? Sadly, experiment suggests no.
Satellite image showing clouds over the Greenland Sea downstream of the ice edge during conditions where there was a large transfer of heat and moisture from the ocean to the atmosphere.
Loss of sea ice near Greenland and Iceland portend a colder future for Europe.
Methylmercury in the fur sounds nasty – but this bear isn’t too bothered.
The toxic metal is poisoning polar wildlife but it can't all come from the atmosphere. Are polluted Siberian rivers to blame?
Pole position: the resource-rich Arctic matters like never before.
As the ice recedes and technology for recovering resources in extreme conditions improves, the Arctic could become the theatre for future global conflicts. Here's the story so far.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska has for decades been a center of debate on the tradeoffs between environmental protection and oil drilling.
Alaska Region US Fish & Wildlife Service
In a few months, we will mark the five-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The accident released millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, causing extensive impacts on the marine…
In the long run all this will be gone.
Arctic sea ice melts each summer, reaching its minimum extent sometime in September, before refreezing through the winter. Over the past 35 years, the September sea ice extent has reduced by about 35…
This is the area that holds strategic importance
In a few short months the United States assumes Chair of the Arctic Council (AC). This is a two-year long opportunity to shape the future of the Arctic, an opportunity that will likely not come around…
Section of the Carta Marina, 1527-39.
What comes to mind when you think of the Arctic? Ice, I imagine, polar bears, a barren cold landscape. And most would assume that these associations have remained the same for a pretty long time, given…