Climate change is causing the Arctic to warm twice as quickly as the rest of the planet. In the Arctic, sea ice is receding, permafrost is melting, and basic habitats are either shifting or disappearing altogether. Such dynamics can change the temperature of ocean layers, impact ocean circulation and salinity, and greatly affect ocean processes, which, in turn, impact the Arctic and global climate. As this change unfolds it will drastically alter the fundamental living conditions in the Arctic over the next few decades. The impacts will be felt not just by wildlife, but by the 4 million people who live in the Arctic, and particularly by the traditional communities who derive their subsistence from its marine mammals and fisheries.
This warming also presents new opportunities for development in this remote and previously inaccessible region. To ensure sustainable development for the region’s people, and the resilience of the region’s natural and living resources, the changes, both expected and unexpected, must be managed in a manner that takes ecological and cultural sensitivity into account. RMCP is currently working with conservation groups to protect the Arctic ecosystem from poorly regulated industrial fishing, shipping and energy development.