Reports of increasing temperatures around the world are proliferating. But amid the heat, great military powers are eyeing the Arctic Circle, where in July 2019 at Canadian military post CFS Alert, the temperature hit 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Arctic region consists of the Arctic Ocean and surrounding land, including all of Greenland and Spitsbergen, as well as the northern parts of Alaska, Canada, Norway and Russia. The U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration says Arctic ice cover has been thinning over large areas during the last 20 years, noting that if the trend continues, temperatures and ocean circulation could change significantly.
And so the race is on.
A strategic competition is on the horizon for untapped resources and new maritime routes. Russian forces operated the world’s largest icebreaker fleet in the region, while China has declared itself a “near-Arctic state” as it angles for a place among the competition. Meanwhile, the head of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command has called the Arctic the first line of defense and advocated for increased spending in cold weather technology.