As climate change progresses, Arctic ice is becoming an important topic of discussion facilitated by geography. To help study ice in northern regions of Canada—where ice effects businesses, transportation, and communities—a variety of institutions are developing Sea-ice Monitoring and Real-Time Information for Coastal Environments (SmartICE), reports Smithsonian Magazine. Led by Canadian universities; the Nunatsiavut region in Labrador, Canada; federal governments; and private research companies, the SmartICE begins with a set of buoys deployed in various waterways when they are melted. Sensors embedded in the buoys relay information to a database via satellite about ice thickness and snow levels at each location. Scientists can then predict when freezing and melting will occur to better prepare communities. Once the program has been in place for a few years, researchers hope to release studies on how the changing climate is affecting the ice.
The United States Navy is also taking measures to better understand Arctic ice. According to a Scout article, the Navy deployed unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) beneath the ice in the Arctic Ocean to assess how quickly the ice is melting. The UUVs measure the temperature and salt content to help scientists develop more accurate computer models to predict ice melt. As more Arctic ice melts, there will be more open water, leading to increased maritime transportation and greater competition for natural resources.
The rising competition for claims to the Arctic is an ongoing topic at the United Nations Climate Change Conference currently taking place in Paris. A Vivid Maps article illustrates how Russia, Norway, Denmark, Canada, and the U.S.—nations with Arctic borders—are vying for claim over territorial waters, natural resources, and transit routes. Take a look at Vivid Maps’ infographic to learn more.
Photo Credit: SmartICE