The polar ice cap is melting. As the Arctic ice thins, littoral countries are beginning a race to claim the region’s heretofore inaccessible resources. A navigable Arctic also holds out the promise of new trade routes, with much shorter travel times between Asia and Europe. An “open Arctic” has important strategic dimensions that demand the attention of national security planners.

Arctic ice is shrinking at a rate of 9 percent per decade. Scientists fear the Arctic is warming at a rate twice that of the rest of the planet. Two years ago, the annual summer melt was the worst in history, and the famous Northwest Passage was free of ice. This year was not that bad, but the melt was still the third-worst in history; 2008 was the second. There is speculation that the region will be “ice-free” year round by 2030.

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.