Select Committee on the Arctic - Report of Session 2014–15

Responding to a changing Arctic


Chapter 1: Introduction

The diversity of the Arctic

Figure 1: The Arctic Ocean

Figure 2: Common definitions of the Arctic

Box 1: The Arctic and the Antarctic

The UK in the Arctic

The Committee’s inquiry and report

Chapter 2: Climate change in the Arctic

Climate change is altering the Arctic

Rising temperatures

Figure 3: Arctic surface air temperature anomaly over land,

Figure 4: Polar amplification of warming in the last decade

The effects of temperature increases in the Arctic

Changes in Arctic sea ice

Figure 5: Sea ice extent changes, 1979–2014

Figure 6: September 2014 sea ice extent

Figure 7: September 1980 and September 2012 sea ice extents

Figure 8: Multi-year sea ice in the Arctic

The melting of land ice and reduction in snow cover

Figure 9: Loss of mass in the Greenland ice sheet

Figure 10: Snow cover changes in the Arctic, 1979–2012

The albedo effect

Permafrost melting and infrastructure problems

The potential for methane and carbon dioxide release

Further Arctic impacts of a changing climate

Ocean temperatures and ocean acidification

Arctic Ocean turbulence

Impacts beyond the Arctic

Potential effects upon the ocean circulation

Potential changes to the jet stream


Chapter 3: Globalisation and governance

The Arctic is not isolated

Increasing international attention on the Arctic

Causes of increasing attention

Increasing strategic interest

Intensifying globalisation

A scramble for the Arctic?

The Arctic is not unclaimed

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Box 2: The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Figure 11: Exclusive Economic Zones

Claims to the North Pole

A peaceful and orderly region

The Arctic Council

Box 3: Arctic Council member states, Permanent Participants
and observers

Evolution and challenges

Tensions within the Arctic states

The necessity of Arctic co-operation, and current tensions surrounding Russia

Russian remilitarisation?

Achievements of the Arctic Council

Arctic relations in the wake of increased tension over Crimea and events in eastern Ukraine

Observer status at the Arctic Council

New observer states

The EU’s application for observer status

Pressures resulting from the growth in Arctic Council observers

Other international bodies and agreements affecting the Arctic


Chapter 4: The impact of Arctic changes: internal pressures and opportunities within the Arctic

Pressures within the Arctic

Changes to Arctic ecosystems

Terrestrial ecosystems

Sea ice, and marine ecosystems

Knowledge gaps, and a role for the UK

The impact upon Arctic residents

The indigenous peoples of the Arctic

Figure 12: Demography of indigenous peoples of the Arctic
based on linguistic groups

Representation of indigenous peoples

How could the UK help?

Chapter 5: The impact of Arctic changes: pressures and
opportunities arising from increasing external access to the Arctic


Attitudes and approaches to Arctic economic development

Striking a balance—a role for the UK?

Hydrocarbons and resource extraction: opportunities and

Oil and gas

Mining and minerals

Increasing maritime access

The potential for new shipping routes

Table 1: Transits of the Northern Sea Route, 2010–2014

The growth in Arctic tourism

Risks and challenges associated with a growth in shipping

Figure 13: Illustrative search and rescue zones

Managing the risks

Fishing in the Arctic

The potential for long-term surprises, shocks and change

Chapter 6: The UK and the Arctic

The UK as a near-Arctic state

Stepping up the UK’s Arctic engagement

Box 4: Trading links between the UK and the Arctic Council member states

How, when and where should the UK be prepared to step up in
Arctic affairs?

Science and technology

Engaging with the Arctic region through British science and technology

The UK’s current contribution to Arctic science and technology

UK Arctic science: the need for strategic drive and co-ordination

UK Arctic science: representation and funding

UK Arctic science: changes needed


Co-ordinating the UK’s diplomatic presence in Arctic

Increasing the UK’s diplomatic presence in Arctic co-operation

Publishing a successor to the 2013 Arctic Policy Framework


Bilateral relationships


The UK’s role in security co-operation around the Arctic

Arctic security resources

Other UK state-led contributions to Arctic co-operation

Drawing together commercial strengths

Drawing upon the UK’s local strengths

Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations

Appendix 1: List of Members and Declarations of Interest

Appendix 2: List of Witnesses

Appendix 3: Call for Evidence

Appendix 4: Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations

Appendix 5: List of international agreements (or bodies with regulatory powers) of material relevance to Arctic debate,
supplied by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Evidence is published online at and available for inspection at the Parliamentary Archives (020 7219 3074)

Q in footnotes refers to a question in oral evidence