The Arctic is changing...

Temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as the global average, and sea ice cover is shrinking. This could give rise to new economic opportunities – but there are also negative consequences. Read the House of Lords Arctic Committee report to find out more.


The journey from Rotterdam to Yokohama is potentially 30% shorter when sailing via the Northern Sea Route instead of the Suez Canal. (Source: Written evidence from Lloyd’s Register)

Oil and gas

The Arctic is estimated to hold 13% of the world’s undiscovered, recoverable oil and 30% of undiscovered, recoverable gas reserves. (Source: US Geological Survey, 2008)


The number of cruise ships calling at ports in Greenland doubled between 2003 and 2008. (Source: Written evidence from Lloyd’s Register)


The global polar bear population has been predicted to decrease by around 30% during the next 45 years. (Source: Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, Arctic Council, 2013)


Due to a current lack of data, 95% of Arctic marine fish species have not been evaluated for threat status according to IUCN criteria. (Source: As above)


In March 2010 a state of emergency was declared in 11 communities in Canada which could not receive supplies due to melting of ice roads. (Source: SWIPA report, Arctic Council, 2011)

September sea ice extent: 1980, 2012 and 2014

September 1980 and 2012 sea ice extent

Map showing sea ice extent in September 1980 and September 2012

While, over the long term, summer sea ice cover is shrinking in the Arctic, the actual ice extent varies from one year to the next. Watch a video of changes over the past 35 years.

September 2014 sea ice extent

Map showing sea ice extent in September 2014

HadISST satellite-derived sea ice extent

Line graph of decreasing sea ice extent

Arctic surface air temperature anomaly over land 1900-2014

Line graph of increasing temperature anomaly