With the Arctic warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe, recent estimates suggest that the Arctic Circle will experience ice-free summers by 2030. Until now, the United States has largely avoided the frantic race for control of northern waters. But with the pace of the thaw exceeding expectations, the Navy has launched a strategic plan to maximize the U.S. stake in the region.

The Pentagon's New Arctic Map

By , , Briefing

With the Arctic warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe, the ice that covers the Arctic Circle continues to dwindle. Recent estimates suggest that the area will experience ice-free summers by 2030. Until now, the United States has largely avoided the frantic race for control of northern waters. But with the pace of the thaw exceeding expectations, the Navy has launched a strategic plan, the Naval Arctic Roadmap (.pdf), to maximize the U.S. stake in the Arctic.

The plan was written by the newly launched Navy Task Force on Climate Change (TFCC), created last May amid growing concern about the security implications of the planet's rapidly changing environment. It includes a comprehensive, three-phase outline of measures the Navy hopes to undertake in the Arctic region within four years: develop new, resilient vessels and weaponry; map the seabed floor for potential resources and geological information; and innovate diagnostic tools to more accurately predict when the cap will thaw. ...

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