(source: Getty Images)The latest version of "Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress" coordinated by Ronald O’Rourke (Coordinator Specialist in Naval Affairs) was released to the public by the end of December 2015.

The report is part of a series of reports on Specific Arctic-Related Issues prepared by the Federation of American Scientists to advise the member and committees of the US Congress on specific topics relevant to national and international security. 

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) provides science-based analysis of and solutions to protect against catastrophic threats to national and international security. Specifically, FAS works to reduce the spread and number of nuclear weapons, prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism, promote high standards for nuclear energy’s safety and security, illuminate government secrecy practices, as well as prevent the use of biological and chemical weapons.FAS was founded as the Federation of Atomic Scientists in November 1945 (and was rebranded as the Federation of American Scientists in February 1946) by many of the Manhattan Project scientists who wanted to prevent nuclear war, and it is one of the longest serving organizations in the world dedicated to reducing nuclear and other catastrophic threats and informing the public debate by providing technically-based research and analysis on these issues.

Introduction to the Report: 

The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. Issues such as Arctic sovereignty claims; commercial shipping through the Arctic; Arctic oil, gas, and mineral exploration; endangered Arctic species; and increased military operations in the Arctic could cause the region in coming years to become an arena of international cooperation or competition. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial political, economic, energy, environmental, and other interests in the region. Decisions that Congress, the executive branch, foreign governments, international organizations, and commercial firms make on Arctic-related issues could significantly affect these interests. This report provides an overview of Arctic-related issues for Congress, and refers readers to more in-depth CRS reports on specific Arctic-related issues. Congressional readers with questions about an issue discussed in this report should contact the author or authors of the section discussing that issue. The authors are identified by footnote at the start of each section. 


Read the full text here