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Report to Congress on Changes in the Arctic

The following is the Dec. 13, 2018 Congressional Research Service report, Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the Report:

The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region.

Record low extents of Arctic sea ice over the past decade have focused scientific and policy attention on links to global climate change and projected ice-free seasons in the Arctic within decades. These changes have potential consequences for weather in the United States, access to mineral and biological resources in the Arctic, the economies and cultures of peoples in the region, and national security.

The five Arctic coastal states—the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway, and Denmark (of which Greenland is a territory)—have made or are in the process of preparing submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf regarding the outer limits of their extended continental shelves. The Russian submission includes the underwater Lomonosov Ridge, a feature that spans a considerable distance across the center of the Arctic Ocean.

The diminishment of Arctic ice could lead in coming years to increased commercial shipping on two trans-Arctic sea routes—the Northern Sea Route close to Russia, and the Northwest Passage—though the rate of increase in the use of these routes might not be as great as sometimes anticipated in press accounts. International guidelines for ships operating in Arctic waters have been recently updated.

Changes to the Arctic brought about by warming temperatures will likely allow more exploration for oil, gas, and minerals. Warming that causes permafrost to melt could pose challenges to onshore exploration activities. Increased oil and gas exploration and tourism (cruise ships) in the Arctic increase the risk of pollution in the region. Cleaning up oil spills in ice-covered waters will be more difficult than in other areas, primarily because effective strategies for cleaning up oil spills in ice-covered waters have yet to be developed.

Large commercial fisheries exist in the Arctic. The United States is currently meeting with other countries regarding the management of Arctic fish stocks. Changes in the Arctic could affect threatened and endangered species, and could result in migration of fish stocks to new waters. Under the Endangered Species Act, the polar bear was listed as threatened on May 15, 2008. Arctic climate change is also expected to affect the economies, health, and cultures of Arctic indigenous peoples.

Two of the Coast Guard’s three polar icebreakers—Polar Star and Polar Sea—have exceeded their intended 30-year service lives, and Polar Sea is not operational. The Coast Guard has initiated a project to build up to three new heavy polar icebreakers. On May 12, 2011, representatives from the member states of the Arctic Council signed an agreement on cooperation on search and rescue in the Arctic.

Although there is significant international cooperation on Arctic issues, the Arctic is increasingly being viewed by some observers as a potential emerging security issue. Some of the Arctic coastal states, particularly Russia, have announced an intention or taken actions to enhance their military presences in the high north. U.S. military forces, particularly the Navy and Coast Guard, have begun to pay more attention to the region in their planning and operations.


Download document here.

  • Curtis Conway

    The United States should petition for membership in NORDEFCO (Nordic Defence Cooperation) as an associate member, and participate in its air-land-sea defense exercises on an ad hoc basis with all members.

    • Centaurus

      Not likely, since President idiot fails to understand that there even is an Arctic, let alone understand that Human driven Climate Change is the reason the Arctic is warming.
      The national security implications alone should spur President idiot to accept warming as a fact but instead , the old fossil just stares blankly into space and denies it . So expect that as this global disaster unfolds, the Russians will further exploit the Arctic, as shall we and the Canadians. Either way you look at it, there is nothing good in store for the planet as a whole. Unless saner minds prevail.

      • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

        What is it like being so totally wrong that you can only generate tacky ad hominem insults?

        • Centaurus

          Ok, then what fact was referred to that was not true ?
          Just speak to the facts, as you understand them.

          • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

            1. AGW is a shaky theory. 2. Name calling is not professional.

            Re AGW. Please the concepts of mensuration. AGW fails, mathematically, on its total disregard of the basic principles of measurement. If we plan to re-engineer the climate, I would want things based on hard, repeatable evidence.

            Please also refer to the concepts of Post Normal Science advanced to counter Thomas Kuhn’s Normal Science concept. Kuhn remains correct while the post normal crowd seems to be getting a bit shrill.

          • Centaurus

            The primary purpose of the above written paper is the militarily significant implications of Climate Change. The fact of it has presented itself for a military response. You can argue about it until you are blue in the face, but the trend is directed to only one point…that of increased average temperatures, heightening sea levels because of increasing greenhouse gasses. It is not a matter of debate anymore, but one that requires a global response with military and societal consequences. I suppose you would hope to do a model of repeatable ends as the world experiment goes on beneath our feet ?

          • Ike_Kiefer

            Nothing is geologically or meteorologically extraordinary about the Arctic today to contrast to days before there was a U.S. Navy. The bordering nations staked their claims to the Arctic centuries ago because of its recognized strategic economic and navigational importance. A northwest passage for surface ships is still elusive, while a submarine passage has been open since the advent of nuclear power 60 years ago. Global sea level continues to rise at the same 2-3 mm/yr as it has for centuries, even as it is falling locally IVO Alaska. There are plenty of reasons why the USA should correct its long neglect of this region that do not rely on the manufactured hobgoblins of statistically insignificant changes of temperature or sea level dwarved by the daily and annual range of these values. We need icebreakers and an Arctic strategy to protect U.S. national interests and combat genuine human threats to national security and global freedom of navigation.

          • On Dre

            I like how the science deniers have nothing to say about acidification. A big reason why we have Navy’s is to protect our maritime boundaries often for fishing. When our ocean’s pH is only good for jellyfish we will see how wise it was to cheer endless pollution.

          • Centaurus

            yeah, its like they are on a different planet, unconcerned with increasing co2 levels causing that acidification. As though noone has any chemistry background.

          • Ike_Kiefer

            So lets hear chemist Centaurus explain how a pH of 8 is acidic.

          • Ike_Kiefer

            False alarmists use the term acidification to provoke fear. Scientists know the pH of the oceans averages 8.02, which is alkaline, not acidic, and has no chance to ever become acidic because it is buffered with limestone that forms a large percentage of the ocean basins. Also, dissolved carbon is the raw material for all the shell-making creatures, and the evidence is that shelled creatures such as coccolithophores, foraminifera, and plankton in general are not only doing fine with a pH of 8, but their populations are growing rapidly, which is good news for the entire food web.

          • Ike_Kiefer

            Q: why are there never any error bars shown on temperature anomaly charts?

            A: Because the uncertainty and error in measurement is far greater than the claimed change in average surface temperature (i.e., the noise is far greater than the supposed signal). Not only this, but the systemically-biased “corrections” to the raw data that cool the past and warm the present are 3 times greater than the warming signal, and have reversed a 2 degree cooling trend in the raw data to a 1 degree warming trend.

            This blatant manipulation of evidence is just another symptom of the epidemic of post-rational, irreproducible “science” that now flows from much of western academia in obedience the political ideology of those who approve federal studies and grants. As we have just experienced two years of rapid global cooling coming off of the 2016 El Nino and have entered a new grand solar minimum likely to bring a further drop in temperatures that will be completely obvious to the whole Earth, perhaps their will be justice and the conspirators behind the global warming lie and demonization of CO2 will be disbarred and defrocked, if not criminally prosecuted for crimes that have cost the world trillions of dollars in needlessly decomissioned infrastructure, millions of acres of habitat destroyed for biofuels and wind and solar farms, and the opportunity cost of decades of bad investments, while promoting poverty, food insecurity, and high mortality in both developing and developed nations.

          • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

            You got it. The math fails at the starting gate. Please note that most purveyors of this scam are not hard science types and I haven’t seen a mathmatition/ statistition at all.

            Thnx.

          • Centaurus

            ???

          • Centaurus

            So, which oil company has put you up to this ? It all smells Lobbyist speak. Throw aside all the calculations-supposedly manipulated and the “millions of acres of habitat destroyed for biofuels and wind and solar farms”…how much Oil -based Deep Carbon are we supposed to burn off until it satisfies the assertion that the whole system is out of balance and fossil fuel burning is the primary causative effect ? Yeah, I hear lobby-speak. Time will tell and someone gets to learn, the why and how.

          • Ike_Kiefer

            Where do you think oil and natural gas and coal come from? The are buried animal and plant remnants from a once, much richer biosphere that was devastated by multiple cataclysms. Mining these resources is simply returning fossil carbon and hydrogen back to the surface and ocean realms from where it originally came, and helping the planet to recover from the near extinction of life. CO2 is at a historical minimum compared to the geological record of the Earth, and plants today are starved for CO2 compared to their ancestors. Human release of this trapped CO2 is welcomed by the Earth, and it is responding by become greener, with longer growing seasons and increased plant fertility. Save the planet–burn more coal.

      • Leroy

        Global warming, Global cooling, they couldn’t decide so now it’s “climate change”. Poppycock! It’s a racket that people are making tons of money off of.

        Global disaster? How? Any ice lost in the Arctic is being deposited as snow in the Antarctic. The Antarctic ice sheet is growing!

        Earth has a wonderful way of compensating for climatic changes, which btw have happened throughout history. Kinda like Newton’s Third Law.

        Research the Vostok ice-core (record) which extends through four climate cycles then get back to me. I’m a scientist, not a liberal the-sky-is-always-falling nutcase alarmist! No offense. : )

        • Centaurus

          If indeed you are a scientist, as am I, simply view the polar decrease in Arctic extent over the years 1980 to 2018 as viewed by satellite photography. Please demonstrate the redistribution of ice from North to South when it is both poles that are experiencing average decreases. Please explain the net gain of sea level over the last 30 years to the extent that Micronesian Islands are being eliminated as well as South Florida experiencing increasing tidal intrusion from maximum High Tides. From all that, as the North Polar Ice decreases, adversarial exploration into the north will cause increased confrontation over Gas and Oil providing more fuel to be burned in the production of anthropogenic carbon dioxide. The figures are there in the papers and photos and ice cores. It only takes a connected mind to connect the dots. BTW, ice cores from the Antarctic have shown that CO 2 has been constant for the last 800,000 years until we get to the Industrial Revolution. From there it spikes to the present 400 ppm, a level it has never been until the presence of human civilization.

          • Duane

            As a scientist, then you should recognize data manipulation intended to deceive, otherwise known as “cherry picking”.

            The Climate Alarmists always like to pick 1980 as their point of reference for looking at Arctic sea ice extent variation to date … but that is only because 1980 was the peak extent year for the last 118 years. The data record, of course, starts long before 1980.

            So then what’s so special about 1980?

            If you look at the actual Arctic sea ice extent records going back to, oh, say 1900, then it clearly shows the ice extent was more or less constant or stagnant from 1900 to about 1928, when it suddenly plunged. Then from 1928 to 1980 it was on a steady rise to a level well above the extent seen in 1900.

            Gee, I’m pretty sure there was a heckuva lot more CO-2 emissions in 1980 than there were in 1900, when almost nobody drove cars and only a handful of cities in the US were even partially electrified … and much more than in 1928, when a 52-year increasing trend began… yet that darned Arctic sea ice extent just kept on growing, mindless of today’s hysteria over CO2 emissions.

            How dare the data disagree with the political science of Climate Hysteria! The nerve of those darned data points!

            These data are all published online, and since USNI doesn’t allow hyperlinks, just spend maybe two minutes Googling this and you’ll see the actual, non-cherry picked data.

            That is what real scientists do.

            Those who cherry pick the data are the fake scientists. Or rather, they are “political scientists” – which is an oxymoron if there ever was one.

          • Centaurus

            Thank you , “real scientist”. Is that a badge, taken from a box of Cracker Jacks ? I guess we will find out after the subscription to Faux News runs out.

          • Duane

            Graduate degree in environmental science, as well as a BS in engineering …. I don’t watch Fox News, I am not a Democrat nor a Republican, so I have no dogs in any political fight on this subject.

            I just stick to facts, data, and fact and logic based analysis.

            Go on, instead of making a personal attack, just go hunt down the data for Arctic sea ice extent going back to 1900, which will take you all of 30 seconds on Google or Bing.

            The data are the data. They don’t lie, but liars can certainly misrepresent the data by playing with starting dates in datasets. Oldest trick in the world.

            Using 1980 as a starting point for Arctic sea ice extent changes, rather than 1900, is equivalent to pointing to this morning’s low local temperature just before sunrise, then comparing it to the day’s high temperature in late afternoon, and then declaring, “Aha! Global warming … see, we’ve already warmed 25 degrees F in just the last 8 hours, so extrapolating that to this weekend we’re all going to be dead of heat stroke.”

          • Centaurus

            Well, good luck with all that, It’s verry commendable. Yet irrelevant in the timescale that we live in. We are extrapolating out of local timescales in to global consequences. So whatever degree one possesses has less bearing on the matter than an ability to see the overall picture that the information suggests. Any thoughts ?

          • Duane

            Polar sea ice extent variations as seen today are entirely within the normal range of variability. It varies a LOT and is NOT a useful indicator for long term global surface temperature trends,since it is so highly effected by shorter term trends and phenomena, like El Ninos and La Ninas, as well as longer termed cyclical variations in Earth’s climate.

            If you want to be taken seriously, look at all the data and not just the cherry picked data you are relying on.

            As a further indication, all the Climate Alarmists just a couple of years ago were making great hay about a single photograph of a diseased and obviously dying polar bear on an ice floe and pointed “Aha! Global warming is killing off the poor polar bears”. But again, that was a single diseased bear (animals get diseases just like humans do, for entirely natural reasons) .. and according to reports this year the native populations throughout the Arctic areas in Canada, Alaska, and Russia, polar bear populations are not only stable but increasing, with the highest levels seen in the last 40 years.

          • Centaurus

            Just go back to the original pretext of the article in question…Climate Change is to be taken seriously enough to be a National Security threat. So unless our military as a whole is to be taken as pawns in the “conspiracy theory” of “Climate Change” they are simply “alarmists” aside from whatever planet I may be living on. Hoo-hoo…that’s really pushing the envelope ! Ok….that’s a good one ! Or has anyone even bothered to read the report posted above or even read the USNI article ? Ahh, this bears listening to…

          • Ike_Kiefer

            Just stupendously ironic how global warming fearmongers continuously use short weather timescales and local phenomena to argue long-term climate change and predict global impacts. One reason is because they want to throw out the Minoan and Roman and Medieval global warm periods that were warmer than current era and obviously had nothing to do with human CO2 emissions. Even IPCC in their most recent 2013 scientific report admitted there was a continuing hiatus in global warming form 1998 onward that defied all the CO2-based climate model predictions. According to the world’s most accurate and pristine temperature measuring stations, NOAA’s Climate Reference Network (USCRN), there has been no warming since these 114 stations began to come online in 2005. In fact, Nov 2018 USA temperature anomaly (-2.57 deg F) is more than 4 degrees cooler than Nov 2006 (+1.48 deg F). It is a crime against science that such actual data is suppressed, while govt officials at the same NOAA use models with infilled (“fake”) data where there are no thermometers to jack up the global average to label each year as “hottest ever.”

          • Centaurus

            Oh, well throw in the Little Ice Age just for fun. So I suppose the Keeling Curve was just watching formed by measuring his own CO2 in his instrumentation on Maui ? Just Fake science ? Yes, it will be a grand experiment for all to scratch their heads over when the data in finally in,,,yawn. So just grow some plants to soak it all up and write a paper when its all over. Hopefull, the lucky will be on a high mountain in the Pacific.

          • old guy

            The report is OUTRAGEOUS. You are quoting lies, Damn lies and phony COMPUTER MODIFIED DATAm ginned up by the I.P.C.C. of the UN, which stands for Unsubstanciated Nonsense. They were already caught in the lies they used from a Britih university professor.May I suggest that you read my post below, and also the posts by DUANE and LEROY. Also get reports from Scievce and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) and stop the dopey blather (and perjorative statements)
            Been to Coney island, Hawaii. Miami beach, Iceland, Indonesia lately.?

          • Centaurus

            Have you been there during any of the high tides ? You must be a troll friend of Phaeton. Down the right wing you slide.

          • old guy

            I lived in New York for 17 years. Went to Coney island frequently. I was there again 6 months ago, over 70 years later . Tidal lines were right where I had left them.

          • Centaurus

            And no doubt were the barnacles which will still be there long after our bones are aren’t.

          • old guy

            BALONEY, I RAN OGO, POGO, and EOGO satellites for 10 years and never got any data that you quote. If you ARE a scientist, you know where you can get access to that and other pertinent
            DATA, not ginned up computer results. Go to SEPP to get valid info.

          • Centaurus

            Well, thank you for your gaseous anomaly, and I see you love to quote satellite data that is based only on geophysical surveillance and nothing else. Enjoy your senescence.

          • old guy

            Weeeel, itis better than the cooked up info of theIPCC or the sequestration boys. Enjoy your naievite.

          • Ike_Kiefer

            True scientist wouldn’t cherry-pick the data starting in 1980, which was a local maximum in the Arctic ice record. Historic data clearly shows Arctic ice is cyclical and was equally low in 1945-1946 and previous cycles, which correlate to Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). Global ice more telling for “Global Warming” than regional ice, and global sea ice extent in 2017 was higher than 1980. Antarctic sea ice has been setting satellite era records in recent years. Surface mass balance of both Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are increasing. There are so many inconvenient facts that don’t fit the alarmist narrative. Shame on U.S. Navy for jumping on this racketeering bandwagon. Fortunately, truth, like the melting point of ice, is not subject to popular opinion and propaganda, but remains immutable, and the common global villagers are growing wise to the grifters, elitists, politicians, and media crying wolf for their own benefit.

          • Centaurus

            And you are a lobbyist for which oil company ?

          • Ike_Kiefer

            Project much?

        • old guy

          CORRECT

      • Duane

        Global warming, such as it is, is good, not bad. Humans and the environment do far better when the climate is relatively warm than when it is relatively cold. Warming is the opposite of disaster. The disaster will be the inevitable return of another glaciation period, when the northern half of North America is covered with a 2-km thick ice sheet, or even a more frequent mini-cooling period when vast swaths of crops fail leading to human starvation and disease pandemics. Typical interglacial periods such as we have been in for the last 16,000 years last on average only about 10,000-20,000 years (so we are overdue now) while the glaciation periods typically last 80,000-100,000 years. Once it starts, humans will experience a vast die off – food production will simply be unable to feed a 7+ billion population when half of the existing arable land is buried under 2 km of ice cover.

        The Arctic will never be ice free, despite the silly claims to the contrary.

        • Centaurus

          Your point is moot, since we will all be dead by the time your little clock runs out. I just thought you might have a moral argument for how you help leave the planet for any of your offspring. Just drop the silly pretense that you have a current knowledge of how the distant past and the distant future game outside the of the human lifespan. Or has that been lost upon you ?

          • Duane

            The warmer the better. All of our offspring will be much happier, healthier, and longer lived the warmer the climate gets.

            It’s the cold cycles that are killers … and they can show up quite suddenly.

          • Ike_Kiefer

            “we will all be dead”

            The doomsday cult is as old as human history, and priests of this false religion have made a good living across the millennia. #GlobalWarming is just the latest incarnation, and is soon to be replaced by #PlasticoPhobia because nature refuses to cooperate with the charlatans and global temperatures have been plunging. @Centaurus is another kool-aid drinking victim. Watch out, there is a comet in the sky this season, better have your jogging suit and running shoes on for your rendezvous with the mothership. #heavensgate

  • Centaurus

    Odd how the argument / discussion below ceases, once the glaring discomfort and inconvenience of the ice caps bleeding away while posing an immediate military challenge shows itself, once again. This problem isn’t hiding from our Military, let alone anyone else, so this will come back around. 🙁

  • Duane

    Actually, the recent HUGE variations year to year in max and min Arctic sea ice extent are entirely within the normal range per observations going back to the 18th century. The fact is Arctic sea ice varies hugely year to year as a reflection of variations in other normal climatic fluctuations associated with El Ninos, La Ninas, and other longer period phenomena.

    It is well known that various expeditions in the age of sail did make it through at least part of the “Northwest Passage” before getting stuck, in years with relatively little ice cap extent .. but then the apparent gap completely disappeared the following year or several years.

    It doesn’t take much to make a huge change in sea ice extent, because sea ice is very thin, typically averaging only 3 meters in thickness. As compared to the glacial icepacks on Greenland, northern Canada, Siberia, and of course Antarctica, which range into the hundreds and thousands of meters in thickness.

    Consequently, all those folks making confident predictions that the Artic is going to become a major shipping corridor are simply blowing smoke. Every single winter the entire Arctic Ocean freezes over completely … and the so called ice free passages are only navigable at most for a few weeks in the summer.

    • old guy

      Your’s is an EXCELLENT, concise exposition of the states of “global warming and man made climate change.”. Salient is the fact that those espousing these scare tactics are clearly seeking 1 or 2 things; power and/or money. Hanging the title of SCIENCE on it gives VERASIMLITUDE with the TRUTH, but does not make it truthful.
      Here is how “Carbon sequestrtion” works, according to Gore and other advocates.
      1. Every nation gets a CO2 emission allowance, based on population.
      2. If you utilize LESS than your allotment you can place it on the market for sale. (Undeveloped countries.)(UN proposed)
      3. If you used MORE than your allotment you can purchase the unused allotment to cover your overage. (Developed countries)
      SIMPLE. but,
      4. Estimted BROKER income $2,000,000,000.
      5. Net change in CO2 emissions? ZERO.
      WHAT A DEAL!

  • Ed L

    climate change? Really !! That’s just the earth going through it normal cycle. Axis Tilt being between 22 and 26 degrees. Ice ages come and go. I am the only one that realizes that the Current period of 5,000 bc to present day is not the first civilization on the Earth. That in over 150,000 years the population was stagnet and unable to develop the wheel cart, steam engines, electrical motors.

  • old guy

    PLEASE, let us clear up a few FACTUAL items.
    1. Climate Change. Inevitable. Been going on since Earth was formed.
    2 Anthopogenic (man-caused) Climate change. Pure B.S. Proven by 3 Orbital Geophysical Observatories (satellites), over 10 years. OrbitalGO, Polar OGO, and Earth OGO. Look it up.
    3 Carbon contribution to climate change. ZERO.
    4.Carbon contribution to global warming is negligeable. Carbon sequestation is ONLY to establish a new class of brokers. The change of .004 of CO2 content has been questioned by climatologist experts like Dr. Fred Singer of the S.E.P.P.
    5, All of this diverts USEFUL efforts for environmental improvements, such as unrestricted, hardwood forest cutting, without reforestation, sea polution, fertilizer runoff, overfishing, undecimated plastic dumping. (decimated plastic is inert and, physically, no different, in toxicity, than sand,) Wildfire reduction, and many more useful changes.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    Nobody knows with certainly what the weather will be a week from now. Yet we have all these supposed ‘predictions’ for 50 to a hundred years out for climate. We were all supposed to be dead some years ago because of the planet cooling, then suddenly it was going to boil over on all of us. My favorite prediction was made by the clown who starred on “Cheers” (a show I admit to liking) who told us all we had less than 10 years ro survive. In the early 90s at that!

    • old guy

      ASTUTE.

    • On Dre

      Stupid old people need to go on an ice flow.

      Climate is not weather.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        Climate is defined as what weather is over a long period of time in specific areas. Period. They often can’t get it right as to what will happen tomorrow. They sure as heck aren’t believable as to what things will be like 50 to a hundred years from now. Maybe all those young idiots would do well to do some actual research.

      • Ike_Kiefer

        Climate is a social construct. Our incomplete, manipulated, statistical data in no way constrains the forces of nature.

  • old guy

    I do not understand why any post consisting of REAL DATA is shoved down in the posts, while conjectural opinions are raised above. Can it be that reporter types canot understand facts? In forming independantly derived conclusions, facts are much more essential than the nebulous opinions of talking heads. I guess it is the way of the world, Hard, heavy facts sink, while lighter horse manure floats to the top. Ah me!

    I APOLOGIZE!

    • Chesapeakeguy

      Well put!