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The Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth, which is already affecting the nearly 4 million people living in the region, the fish and wildlife they depend on for food, and their environment. The changes have ramifications far beyond the Arctic to global economies, weather, climate, sea levels, trade and national security.
Sea ice and weather conditions are changing so rapidly in the Arctic that some animals, which have long-evolved to living in extreme cold, now struggle to acclimate to sea ice loss and warming air and water temperatures. Indigenous peoples who rely on marine food sources for sustenance (including 40,000 persons on Alaska’s Arctic coastline) are being challenged to adapt to a new environment.
A greener, warmer and increasingly-accessible Arctic opens the region to increased shipping and transportation, research and exploration, and other economic development activities. Any new activities must be conducted with great care. This is a pristine environment, rich with natural resources but one that is remote from emergency services and responders needed during life-threatening emergencies and disasters.
By way of Alaska, the United States is itself an Arctic nation. As such, NOAA has made Arctic science and research a top priority. We take a lead role in collecting and using the environmental information needed to build resilience in this harsh, challenging region. We also engage domestic and international partners to share science, data and observational platforms.