Arctic Regions
▪ 2009

The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30′ N], climatic [above the 10 °C (50 °F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or in human terms (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures— Inuit [Eskimo] and Aleut in North America and Russia, Sami [Lapp] in northern Scandinavia and Russia, and 29 other peoples of the Russian North, Siberia, and East Asia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of eight countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Greenland (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14.09 million sq km (5.44 million sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region. The land area consists of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. The population (2008 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures is about 535,000 (Aleuts [in Russia and Alaska], more than 4,000; Athabascans [North America], 40,000; Inuits [or Eskimos, in Russian Chukhotka, North America, and Greenland], 155,000; Sami [Northern Europe], 85,000; and 41 indigenous peoples of the Russian North, totaling about 250,000). International organizations concerned with the Arctic include the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, and the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat. International scientific cooperation in the Arctic is the focus of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and the University of the Arctic, a circumpolar network of member institutions.

      With the rapid onset of climate change—and its related summer sea-ice melt and the prospects of future oil and natural gas development and shorter shipping routes—the Arctic remained a region of political interest throughout 2008. Summer sea ice hit its annual minimum on September 14. It was the second lowest ice extent on record, 34% below the long-term average from 1979 to 2000. Measurements of ice thickness showed that it was continuing to thin. Scientists estimated that the overall volume of Arctic sea ice might be at an absolute minimum. Several ice shelves in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago broke away in 2008, setting adrift approximately 194 sq km (75 sq mi) of shelf. Land-based ice also continued to melt. The Greenland Ice Sheet, the largest ice mass in the Northern Hemisphere, lost 222 cu km (53 cu mi), an increase of 70% in melt over previous years.

      In response to the ongoing ice loss, polar bears (which depend on sea ice for their hunting of seals for food) were listed in May 2008 as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Alaska challenged the listing, citing a lack of evidence to support the threatened status and noting that some polar bear populations were not in decline. Offshore oil and gas interests coincided with regions that were being considered for designation as critical polar bear habitat.

      The U.S. Geological Survey completed a four-year in-depth study on Arctic oil and gas reserves in May. The USGS report, released in July, stated that the “extensive Arctic continental shelves may constitute the geographically largest unexplored prospective area for petroleum remaining on Earth.” Overall, the Arctic was estimated to hold 22–23% of the world's oil and gas, about 13% of global oil reserves, and 30% of global gas reserves. Most of the reserves were identified as being on the coastal continental shelves, as opposed to the deep ocean basins, and most of the reserves were as yet unproven.

      Early in the year the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (a branch of the Arctic Council) issued the report of its four-year study on the state of oil and natural gas development in the Arctic. Later the report's executive summary, which included policy recommendations on Arctic drilling practices, was released.

      In May representatives of the five countries that border the Arctic Ocean met to discuss how overlapping claims to the Arctic Ocean would be resolved. Denmark hosted Russia, Norway, Canada, and the U.S. at the meeting, which was held in Ilulissat, Greenland. Senior political officials agreed to work cooperatively under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. In addition, the coastal states agreed that they shared a stewardship role in protecting and preserving the fragile marine environment of the Arctic Ocean. Canada and Denmark continued work in 2008 toward their submissions under the convention, while Russia had submitted its territorial claim in 2007. The U.S., which as of 2008 still had not ratified the convention, did carry out further seabed mapping north of the Beaufort Sea, which was required for any future claim. Circumpolar Inuit leaders met in November to comment on sovereignty and development.

      Onshore, the ongoing development of Arctic pipelines showed mixed results. Work on the Far East oil pipeline from Siberia to the Pacific Ocean continued. In August the Alaska Senate approved a state license for TransCanada Corp. to proceed with the planning and permit stages of the 2,700-km (1,700-mi) natural gas pipeline. Meanwhile, the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline in Canada was again delayed, with regulatory approval awaiting a report delineating the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the pipeline. The report was due in 2009.

      World oil prices rose in 2008 from $90 per barrel at the beginning of the year to a high of $145.29 per barrel in July and back down by year's end to $44.60 per barrel as a result of the global credit crisis that originated in the U.S. Circumpolar economies remained largely resource based and fossil-fuel dependent. As a result, regional activity was heavily affected by this volatility and by the downturn in commodity prices.

      Arctic marine traffic was up in 2008, including commercial shipping, research vessels taking part in the International Polar Year, search and rescue missions, and Arctic tourism. For the first time, both the Northwest Passage in North America and the Northeast Passage in Eurasia opened concurrently, and it was thus possible to circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean. New icebreakers were being planned in Russia and were under discussion in Canada and the U.S. There were plans for a major Arctic Ocean shipping-lane oil-spill rehearsal to take place in the Barents Sea in 2009.

      Nearly 20 years after the worst oil spill in U.S. history, a final compensation settlement was reached. On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, releasing more than 200,000 bbl of crude oil. The resulting slick contaminated about 1,770 km (1,100 mi) of coastline, killed thousands of animals, and seriously disrupted the Alaska fishing industry. The original settlement of $5.2 billion awarded by an Alaska jury in 1994 was reduced on repeated appeals to $2.5 billion. In June 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court slashed that amount to $507.5 million. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (Palin, Sarah ) expressed disappointment in the ruling, and lawyers for the plaintiffs claimed that ExxonMobil Corp. owed an additional $488 million in interest, owing to the two-decade delay. The settlement was scheduled to be divided among more than 32,000 plaintiffs, predominantly Alaska fishermen, but further legal delays were likely.

John Streicker

▪ 2008

The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30′N], climatic [above the 10 °C (50 °F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or in human terms (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures—Inuit [Eskimo] and Aleut in North America and Russia, Sami [Lapp] in northern Scandinavia and Russia, and 29 other peoples of the Russian North, Siberia, and East Asia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of eight countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Greenland (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14.09 million sq km (5.44 million sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region. The land area consists of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. The population (2007 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures is about 530,000 (Aleuts [in Russia and Alaska], more than 4,000; Athabascans [North America], 45,000; Inuits [or Eskimos, in Russian Chukhotka, North America, and Greenland], 160,000; Sami [Northern Europe], 70,000; and 41 indigenous peoples of the Russian North, totaling about 250,000). International organizations concerned with the Arctic include the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, and the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat. International scientific cooperation in the Arctic is the focus of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and the University of the Arctic, a circumpolar network of member institutions.

 In 2007 Arctic sea ice melted dramatically. (See Map—>.) The new record-low ice extent, set on September 16, was 4.13 million sq km (1.59 million sq mi). This extent of sea ice was 23% less than that recorded in 2005, when the previous record low was set, and 39% below the long-term average from 1979 to 2000. The loss in ice extent was accompanied by losses in ice thickness. In March the International Polar Year (IPY) was launched to begin a major two-year campaign of polar research. Studies set to measure the thickness of the sea ice found that there was a significant decline in thicker, perennial ice and that this in turn led to a more intense melt in the 2007 season.

      Rapid loss of sea ice continued to place pressure on Northern cultures and species that depended on the ice. In December 2006 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed that polar bears be classified as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. At the same time, sea ice loss increased activity around polar transportation routes, oil and gas exploration, sovereignty, and boundary disputes.

 In August a Russian research team aboard the icebreaker Rossiya mounted an expedition to map and measure the geology of the Lomonosov ridge (an underwater mountain chain extending between the Russian and North American continental shelves). As part of the mission, the Russian team used manned submersibles to place a Russian flag at the North Pole on the seabed 4,300 m (about 14,000 ft) below sea level in the Amundsen Basin, alongside the Lomonosov ridge. (See Map—>)

      The Russians made this claim as part of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. (Under the convention, each country would have 10 years from the time that it ratified the document to submit claims for an extension of its exclusive economic zone.) The U.S., Canada, and Denmark challenged Russia's claim, and Canada and Denmark continued a program to show that the Lomonosov ridge is connected to the Canadian-Greenland shelf. The U.S. had still not ratified the Law of the Sea, but there was renewed interest to consider the document in the Senate. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the entire Arctic held 25% of the world's undiscovered oil and natural gas reserves and in 2007 began a comprehensive study to refine this estimate.

      With the decrease in sea ice in 2007, the Northwest Passage became ice free for a short period of time. This was the first occurrence in recorded history of a completely open passage. The Northwest Passage—and the Northeast Passage along the Russian coast—remained strategic in terms of drastically reducing transportation distances and costs; for example, shipping between Europe and Asia would be shortened by about 5,000 km (1 km = about 0.62 mi) via the polar route. Canada, which maintained that the passage through the Arctic archipelago was a domestic waterway, announced that it was building eight Arctic patrol ships capable of cutting through 1 m (3.28 ft) of ice and began work on a deepwater port in Nanisivik at the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage. The U.S. and the EU, however, held that the route was an international passage. In February Russia launched the 50 Let Pobedy, an Arktika-class nuclear-powered icebreaker, the largest in the world as of 2007. Russia had 18 icebreakers that were used to develop transportation in the Arctic and to support Russia's energy projects and strategic interests.

      A preliminary study recommended a new 2,500-km pipeline to connect the oil and gas fields on Russia's Yamal peninsula (in northwestern Siberia) to the existing pipeline grid in the Komi Republic. This pipeline would run partly offshore, crossing the Baydaratskaya Bay and thus avoiding the Ural Mountains. Meanwhile, Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin called for initial proposals to build the 5,600-km Alaska Gas Pipeline, which was expected to cost more than $20 billion. In Canada the Mackenzie Valley Gas Pipeline revised its budget forecast. Imperial Oil, the lead on the 1,220-km pipeline, reported that costs had jumped from Can$7.5 billion (about U.S.$7.55 billion) to Can$16.2 billion (about U.S.$16.3 billion), citing labour shortages and rising construction costs. In response to these pressures, Imperial Oil announced that construction would begin no sooner than 2014, a three-year delay from previous estimates. The environmental review panel for the Mackenzie Valley Gas Pipeline concluded its hearings in November, and its recommendations were expected in 2008.

      Early results from a U.S. congressional committee indicated that it was cost cuts by British Petroleum PLC and a corresponding failure to properly maintain pipelines that led to corrosion and caused the largest-ever onshore oil spill in Alaska when in March 2006 one of the major transit oil pipelines at Alaska's Prudhoe Bay spilled 1,010 cu m (267,000 gal) onto the tundra. BP continued to have problems with its Alaska operations through 2007, with leaks, fires, and resulting reductions in production. In response, BP began remedial work to replace its transit pipelines, which it expected to complete in 2008.

      In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its fourth major assessment report. The report confirmed that the Arctic had experienced the greatest warming of any region on the planet, at twice the global average. (See Special Report (Climate Change-The Global Effects ).) In October the Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded jointly to the IPCC and former U.S. vice president Al Gore “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.” (See Nobel Prizes .) Also nominated was Sheila Watt-Cloutier, past chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, for her work to raise awareness about the impact of global warming on the Inuit and other indigenous peoples of the North.

John Streicker

▪ 2007

The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30′ N], climatic [above the 10 °C (50 °F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or in human terms (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures—Inuit [Eskimo] and Aleut in North America and Russia, Sami [Lapp] in northern Scandinavia and Russia, and 29 other peoples of the Russian North, Siberia, and East Asia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of eight countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Greenland (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14.09 million sq km (5.44 million sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region. The land area consists of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. The population (2006 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures is about 475,000 (Aleuts [in Russia and Alaska], more than 4,000; Athabascans [North America], 40,000; Inuits [or Eskimos, in Russian Chukhotka, North America, and Greenland], 155,000; Sami [Northern Europe], 70,000; and 31 indigenous peoples of the Russian North, totaling more than 200,000). International organizations concerned with the Arctic include the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat. International scientific cooperation in the Arctic is the focus of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

      In 2006 oil and gas resource developments in the Arctic were characterized by setbacks and delays. In March British Petroleum PLC suffered a leak in one of its major transit oil pipelines at Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, spilling 267,000 gal. BP experienced a smaller leak in August, but this time it was forced to shut down the eastern side of the oil field for more than a month. This represented a drop of 4% in U.S. domestic production. Undetected and/or unresolved corrosion was blamed for the problems, and as the year ended, BP was undertaking remedial action on its pipelines. In response to this corrosion, Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski announced the creation of a new state agency to oversee oil and gas infrastructure. Meanwhile, the proposed Alaska Gas Pipeline, estimated at a cost of $20 billion, continued to be in the planning stages.

      In Canada the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline review panel announced that it needed more time to conduct hearings on the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the proposed pipeline. Imperial Oil, the lead on the 1,220-km (760-mi) pipeline, also reported that it was reviewing the project budget. The estimated budget was Can$7.5 billion (about U.S.$6.7 billion), but delays and rising labour and steel costs were projected to increase this amount by 20–25%.

       Norway, the world's third largest oil exporter, in March completed a plan that outlined oil and gas development for the Barents Sea region. The plan was presented as a compromise between environment, fishing, and development interests and would limit drilling in critical areas until 2010. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate estimated that the Arctic waters around Norway held one- third of the country's undiscovered reserves. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the entire Arctic held 25% of the world's undiscovered oil and gas reserves.

      New studies released in 2006 showed both increasing and accelerating melt of Arctic sea ice and glaciers. Using the GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) twin satellites, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory determined that the Greenland ice sheet was melting at a rate of about 239 cu km (57 cu mi) annually. Although the experiment had been in effect for less than five years, it showed that the rate of melt was actually accelerating. (The Greenland sheet was believed to contain enough fresh water to raise sea levels significantly and to affect regional ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream.)

      In 2005 Arctic sea ice was at an all-time low, and in 2006 the ice extent was only slightly larger. The National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado measured the rate of melt in the two decades prior to 2000 as 6.5% melt per decade. As of 2006, however, the rate of melt had increased to 8.6% per decade. This stepped-up rate denoted that the summer Arctic Ocean might be ice-free as early as 2060. Although sea- ice melt does not have an impact on ocean levels, it could intensify global warming by reflecting less sunlight away from the Earth. Sea-ice melt also meant improved opportunities for transportation and for access to resources beneath the Arctic Ocean, and this in turn led to renewed diplomatic disputes regarding offshore boundaries.

      Several unresolved boundary disputes continued in 2006. During the summer Canada and Denmark undertook a joint exercise to map the geography and the geology of the northern continental shelf of North America. (By submitting these results to the United Nations, a country could make maritime claims on additional resources under the Law of the Sea Convention.) Canada, Denmark, and Russia were all interested in the Lomonosov Ridge (an underwater plateau of mountains that connects the North American shelf to the Russian shelf via the North Pole). The situation remained complicated, however, because there were overlapping claims and because the U.S. had not ratified the convention.

      Canada and the U.S. also had unresolved issues regarding the famed Northwest Passage. Canada claimed the waters through the Arctic Archipelago as part of its sovereign territory, but a report commissioned by the U.S. Congress contended that the passage should be considered part of an international waterway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In 2006 both countries announced that they would build naval icebreakers to replace aging coast-guard icebreakers. On the opposite side of the Arctic Ocean, the Northeast Passage along the Russian coast was expected to be navigable on a regular basis even sooner because it was a more direct route that was less often clogged by ice than the Northwest Passage. Both routes were considered strategic in terms of drastically reducing transportation distances and costs; for example, shipping between Europe and Asia would be shortened by about 5,000 km (3,000 mi) by a polar route. For this reason, in 2006 the Arctic Council initiated a study of Arctic shipping, called the Arctic Marine Strategic Plan.

      The first UN Conference on Climate Change held in North America took place in Montreal in December 2005. During the conference, which had a strong focus on the Arctic, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) submitted a petition to the Washington, D.C.-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The petition cited current and projected destruction of the Arctic environment and thus the Inuit way of life, as caused by global warming. The ICC called for limits to greenhouse-gas emissions and for the development of a plan to protect the Inuit culture and resources. The petition and the environmental concerns that had inspired it continued to be discussed at the ICC's 10th General Assembly, held July 9–14, 2006, in Barrow, Alaska.

Kenneth de la Barre; John Streicker

▪ 2006

The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30′ N], climatic [above the 10 °C (50 °F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or in human terms (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures—Inuit [Eskimo] and Aleut in North America and Russia, Sami [Lapp] in northern Scandinavia and Russia, and 29 other peoples of the Russian North, Siberia, and East Asia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of eight countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Greenland (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14.09 million sq km (5.44 million sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region. The land area consists of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. The population (2005 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures is more than 450,000 (Aleuts [in Russia and Alaska], 3,000; Athabascans [North America], 32,000; Inuits [or Eskimos, in Russian Chukhotka, North America, and Greenland], 155,000; Sami [Northern Europe], 70,000; and 40 indigenous peoples of the Russian North, totaling nearly 200,000). International organizations concerned with the Arctic include the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat. International scientific cooperation in the Arctic is the focus of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

      In 2005 the “pipeline race” continued between the proposed natural gas pipeline from Alaska's Prudhoe Bay south through the Yukon to the U.S. Midwest and a separate gas pipeline project from the Mackenzie River Delta to serve the rapidly developing oil-sands developments in northern Alberta. The Alaska pipeline, expected to cost some $20 billion, was proposed in the 1970s to carry an estimated 991 billion cu m (1 cu m = 35.3 cu ft) of natural gas—enough to supply about one-tenth of the country's natural gas needs. In September Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski announced that state officials and the major North Slope producers, led by Exxon Mobil Corp., had made enough progress on negotiating fiscal terms to be able to sign a contract by the end of the year. To help spur the pipeline forward, the state also had agreed to invest $3 billion in return for part ownership in the project. In November the president of Exxon Mobil indicated that he believed the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline would be built before the Alaska pipeline.

      In February the panel conducting the environmental analysis of the Mackenzie pipeline halted the review process for the third time until Imperial Oil and the other pipeline proponents provided additional information to supplement their 6,500-page submission on how the project would affect the communities along its 1,200-km (1 km = 0.62 mi) route. Imperial Oil and its partners announced in May that they were halting all nonregulatory work on the project because of unanticipated regulatory delays and higher-than-expected demands from the First Nations for compensation and for permission to access their lands for the pipeline route. In July a study by the engineering firm Sproule Associates Ltd. estimated that a larger-capacity pipeline should be built because revised estimates of gas reserves indicated that there could be about 1.3 trillion cu m of undiscovered gas in the Mackenzie Delta and the Beaufort Sea, more than four times the estimate used by Imperial in its original project proposal.

      In March the U.S. Senate voted narrowly in favour of allowing exploratory drilling in the environmentally and politically sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Canada continued to oppose exploration in this area, citing a 1987 Canada-U.S. agreement to refrain from activities in the refuge that could have a negative impact on the environment and wildlife. Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin suggested that U.S. access to the enormous reserves in the oil sands of northern Alberta would be more than adequate to offset any loss of potential oil production if the U.S. continued to protect the ANWR. Congress was expected to vote on the drilling provision, which was included in the annual budget bill, by the end of the year. Oil exploration in the ANWR was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives as a part of a Department of Defense appropriations bill, but passage of the ANWR provision was blocked by the U.S. Senate.

 An Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report issued in March noted that the average temperature in the Arctic had risen by 0.4 °C (0.7 °F) per decade since the mid-1960s. The study also indicated that the current warming in the Arctic was without precedent since the last ice age. According to a Woods Hole Research Center study, rising temperatures and concentrations of carbon dioxide were causing a “greening” of the frozen tundra and permafrost. Indications were that more plant growth and longer growing seasons were occurring in northern Canada and Alaska and that there was a decline in the immense boreal forests from the interior of Alaska into northern Canada. In August the British newspaper The Guardian reported that Exit Glacier in Alaska's Kenai Fjords National Park had receded 300 m (1 m = 3.28 ft) in the past 10 years, while Muir Glacier in Glacier Bay had retreated eight kilometres in the past 30 years. In September the U.S.-based National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported a continuing decay in the polar ice cap for the fourth consecutive year. Satellite images showed 5.3 million sq km (1 sq km = 0.39 sq mi) of sea ice. According to the NSIDC, this was the lowest measurement of sea ice ever recorded and represented a decrease of 1.66 million sq km (an area more than twice the size of Texas) from the average 6.96-million-sq-km end-of-summer ice-pack data recorded since 1979. It also was reported that the sea-ice change appeared to be self-sustaining because solar energy was being absorbed by the increased amount of open water instead of being reflected back into space by bright white ice, thus raising ocean temperatures. Early in the year the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, representing 155,000 Inuit around the world, began legal proceedings to convince the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that global warming caused by the emission of greenhouse gases was a violation of Inuit human rights.

      Ottawa continued to fend off challenges to Canadian sovereignty over its northern regions. In September Canadian and Russian officials met to discuss sharing responsibility for surveillance of the Arctic. The unprecedented cooperation included trading images from satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles. The Canadian military expanded its presence in the Arctic by sending troops and warships north for training purposes and by patrolling its northern waters.

      Substantial progress was made on planning for the 2007–08 International Polar Year, the fourth time in some 125 years that scientists from around the world would collaborate on researching environmental and social phenomena in the polar regions. It was reported that 50 countries had already submitted approximately 12,000 proposed studies. For the first time, a priority was being placed on involving people who lived in the northern regions, making use of their indigenous knowledge, and scrutinizing the impact of climate change.

      In July it was announced that Canada was set to establish its first marine sanctuary for bowhead whales in the waters of Baffin Island's Isabella Bay. Wildlife officials and local Inuit reported that during the summer open-water season, more than 300 of the 20-m-long whales visited the area, which was dotted with the remains of 19th-century stations whose whalers almost exterminated the bowheads and with remains of Inuit hunting campsites dating back to prehistory. The Inuit population was hoping to benefit from the increasing popularity of the Arctic for cruise ships looking for destinations that could offer authentic wildlife and cultural experiences.

Kenneth de la Barre

▪ 2005

The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30′ N], climatic [above the 10 °C (50 °F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or in human terms (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures—Inuit [Eskimo] and Aleut in North America and Russia, Sami [Lapp] in northern Scandinavia and Russia, and 29 other peoples of the Russian North, Siberia, and East Asia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of eight countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Greenland (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14.09 million sq km (5.44 million sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region. The land area consists of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. The population (2004 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures is nearly 450,000 (Aleuts [in Russia and Alaska], 3,000; Athabascans [North America], 32,000; Inuits [or Eskimos, in Russian Chukhotka, North America, and Greenland], 150,000; Sami [Northern Europe], 50,000; and 40 indigenous peoples of the Russian North, totaling more than 200,000). International organizations concerned with the Arctic include the Arctic Council, institutions of the Barents Region, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat. International scientific cooperation in the Arctic is the focus of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

      In 2004 planning continued for the proposed natural gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska through Canada to the U.S. Midwest as well as for a separate Can$7 billion (U.S.$5.6 billion) gas pipeline from the Mackenzie River Delta to serve oil-sands projects in northern Alberta. In January the gas producers opened discussions with Alaska on bids to build the 1,200-km (745-mi) pipeline to the Yukon border for an estimated U.S.$6.5 billion. In March, TransCanada Corp., which since 1976 had held the right to build a natural gas pipeline to the U.S. mainland from Alaska, announced that it was prepared to lead the project. The producer's proposal was for the pipeline to deliver the gas to Chicago via a combination of new pipelines through Alaska and the Yukon and using excess capacity in TransCanada's existing pipeline system. During the year the U.S. Congress continued to debate approval of oil companies' access to the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which was believed to hold as much as 16 billion bbl of crude oil. The refuge included calving areas for caribou and was home to polar bears and other wildlife as well as serving as an annual stopover for the migration of millions of birds. The Alaska pipeline project gained momentum in October when Congress approved a giant incentive package to support its construction, thus placing pressure on the smaller Mackenzie Valley pipeline to move faster to obtain regulatory approval and proceed with construction.

      In Canada progress on the environmental-impact assessment process for the Mackenzie Delta pipeline became mired in litigation with the Deh Cho First Nations, whose traditional territory encompassed 40% of the proposed route. Both the Deh Cho and the Canadian government claimed jurisdiction but had yet to sign a land-claim agreement. The consortium of energy companies involved in the pipeline project indicated that it was ready to file an initial regulatory application, with the backing of many Northwest Territory aboriginal groups, which had a one-third stake in the project.

      The U.S. and Canadian governments took steps in May toward the building of a northern railway that would connect Eielson, near Fairbanks, Alaska, with Fort Nelson in northern British Columbia and thence to the rest of Canada and the United States. The U.S. Congress approved the Alaska Railroad Corp.'s expansion of tracks to the Yukon border. It was reported in January 2004 that, thanks to the discovery of diamonds in the Northwest Territories in the 1990s, Canada had become the world's third largest producer of the gems.

      In April the Russian ambassador to Canada proposed establishing an Arctic trade route between Murmansk, on Russia's Kola Peninsula, and Churchill, Man., on Hudson Bay. The proposed Arctic bridge would be the most efficient marine trading link between central North America and northern Europe. Plans were announced in June for an international study of the biological riches of the Arctic Ocean hidden beneath the polar ice. Some climatologists had predicted that within 50 to 100 years the region could be ice-free in summer owing to global warming.

      Another sign of the growing impact of global climate change on the Arctic was the steady erosion of the shoreline of the Beaufort Sea. In July the residents of one community perched on the seaward edge of the Mackenzie Delta were reported to be asking the Northwest Territories government for financial assistance to strengthen the shoreline, which was retreating by as much as 2 m (6.6 ft) a year from steady permafrost erosion and from the lapping waves and storms. Scientists had predicted that as the Arctic climate warmed, plant growth on the tundra would increase, pulling carbon out of the air, locking it, and generally slowing down global warming. The results of a 20-year series of studies published in the journal Nature in September, however, indicated that temperature rises could cause vast stores of deep-soil carbon to escape and thus actually accelerate the warming process.

      In October Canada announced a concerted effort to reinforce its jurisdiction over its largely uninhabited Arctic territory. Ottawa's “northern strategy” was aimed at protecting sovereignty over the Canadian Arctic through sustainable development initiatives in cooperation with other northern countries. Initiatives included a northern mobilization of the armed forces. Canada had conflicting territorial claims: with the U.S. in the Beaufort Sea, with Denmark over Hans Island between Greenland and Ellesmere Island, and with Russia over its drawing of the Russian continental shelf.

      In June UNESCO announced the addition of two Arctic sites to its World Heritage List—Greenland's Ilulissat ice fjord, the most active glacier outside Antarctica, and the Wrangel Island Reserve in the Russian Arctic, the site of ancestral polar bear dens.

Kenneth de la Barre

▪ 2004

The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30′ N], climatic [above the 10 °C (50 °F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or in human terms (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures—Inuit [Eskimo] and Aleut in North America and Russia, Sami [Lapp] in northern Scandinavia and Russia, and 29 other peoples of the Russian North, Siberia, and East Asia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of eight countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Greenland (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14.09 million sq km (5.44 million sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region. The land area consists of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. The population (2003 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures is about 375,000. International organizations concerned with the Arctic include the Arctic Council, institutions of the Barents Region, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat. International scientific cooperation in the Arctic is the focus of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

      As the year 2003 ended, a dispute between U.S. Pres. George W. Bush's administration and key congressional leaders had stalled the 25-year-old plan to build a $20 billion, 5,800-km (1 km = about 0.62 mi) Alaskan natural gas pipeline from Alaska through Canada to the lower 48 states. Bush's energy bill mandated that the proposed pipeline stretch from Prudhoe Bay in northern Alaska to near Fairbanks and then along the Alaska Highway to Alberta, where it would connect to existing pipelines to Chicago. Passage of the energy bill through the U.S. House and Senate was delayed in part because representatives from Alaska had insisted that financial incentives for gas producers be part of the sweeping energy bill, including a floor price of $3.25 per thousand cubic feet delivered to key distribution points in Alberta for Alaskan gas. The proposed floor price reflected the high costs of transportation from Alaska to Alberta. The gas prices in September were more than twice the proposed floor price. The pipeline's proponents maintained that tax breaks were essential to making the pipeline economical.

      Canada's oil and gas industry was concerned that U.S. government incentives for the Alaska project could jeopardize a rival natural gas pipeline project in the Mackenzie Delta, as well as natural gas produced in Canada, where government incentives were not available to natural gas producers. Because the energy bill was designed to reduce American dependence on foreign energy sources, and because American gas inventories were 29% lower than the previous five-year inventory average, U.S. legislators were under increasing pressure to find ways to increase natural gas supplies by supporting the Alaska pipeline project. The prospects of the U.S. gas subsidy and approval of the energy bill received a boost after a power blackout in August left an estimated 50 million people in Canada and the U.S. in the dark. Proponents of the bill expected that the power blackout would spur a compromise with opponents. The bill passed in the House, but a Democratic filibuster blocked it in the Senate.

      Development of the estimated 5.7 billion–16 billion bbl of oil under the 160-km coastal plain of the 7.7-million-ha (19-million-ac) Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) also was a key part of the president's bill, but the ANWR drilling program had been rejected by the Senate in March.

      In June a funding agreement was announced between the Inuvik, N.W.Terr.-based Aboriginal Pipeline Group, which owned 33.3% of the project, and Canadian and American energy producers and pipeline builders for the Can$5 billion (US$3.75 billion) Mackenzie Delta natural gas pipeline. The announcement cleared the way for the preliminary information package to be sent to the relevant regulatory authorities. Supporters of the pipeline had proposed building twin pipelines from the Mackenzie Delta to northern Alberta. One pipeline would transport natural gas along the complete 1,300-km route. A shorter, 500-km, pipeline would carry natural gas liquids (NGLs) to Norman Wells, N.W.Terr. The construction of a separate line for NGLs would allay criticism that natural gas from Canada's Arctic could be shipped to the U.S. without having that gas stripped of its value-added petrochemical-related content, such as ethane and propane. Most of the natural gas would most likely initially fuel refineries in the oil sands of northern Alberta.

      In September it was reported that Royal Dutch Shell had approved a $1 billion development plan for a 600-million-bbl Siberian reserve oil project in a 50–50 partnership with Evikhon, a Russian company. Russia, the world's second biggest oil producer, continued to be increasingly popular with the global oil industry. Russia's vast energy reserves were among the few available for purchase outside the Middle East.

      According to federal wildlife biologists in the U.S., 200–400 polar bears that crossed over the floating ice between Alaska and Russia were being shot each year by Russian poachers. The findings were reported as part of negotiations to ratify a 2000 treaty between the U.S. and Russia to protect the shared population of bears. If that level of hunting persisted, the estimated population of 4,000 bears could be cut in half by 2020. The treaty would allow limited subsistence hunting by indigenous peoples.

      The Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) launched a potentially groundbreaking legal action on global warming through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The ICC's petition addressed man-made global warming and the threat that it posed to the Inuit homeland and culture. Climate-change experts had predicted that most of the permanent ice in the Arctic Ocean would disappear between 2050 and 2070 and that the Arctic would become ice-free in the summer. These changes would have a negative impact on the Inuit's traditional wildlife harvesting and would open up the Northwest Passage to commercial ships, which would thus create new environmental dangers to Arctic offshore areas.

      In September the 3,000-year-old Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, located on the north coast of Ellesmere Island, was reported to have split in half and started to break up into icebergs. At 443 sq km (about 171 sq mi), the shelf was the largest in the Arctic, and according to University of Alaska experts, its breakup was a clear sign of global warming's impact on the Arctic Ocean.

      In July a team of European scientists completed the deepest hole—more than three kilometers—ever drilled through ice in the Northern Hemisphere. The objective of the North Greenland Ice Core Project was to extract a core sample of ice that would enable the scientists to explore the history of the world's changing climate. The research was expected to help predict future climate changes, including the possibility that recent indications of global warming would be replaced by a rapid cooling of the Earth.

Kenneth de la Barre

▪ 2003

The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30′ N], climatic [above the 10 °C (50 °F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or in human terms (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures—Inuit [Eskimo] and Aleut in North America and Russia, Sami [Lapp] in northern Scandinavia and Russia, and 29 other peoples of the Russian North, Siberia, and East Asia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of eight countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Greenland (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14.09 million sq km (5.44 million sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region. The land area consists of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. The population (2002 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures is about 375,000. International organizations concerned with the Arctic include the Arctic Council, institutions of the Barents Region, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat. International scientific cooperation of the Arctic is the focus of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

      At the beginning of the year 2002, it appeared that natural gas producers were in a frenzy to propose and then build multibillion-dollar natural gas pipelines from the North Slope of Alaska and the Mackenzie Delta in the Canadian Northwest Territories. Although there had been a sharp decline in gas prices from 2001, industry observers agreed that it was not a matter of whether a northern pipeline would be built but when. Production from other gas basins on the continent was rapidly declining, and by 2015 demand for gas was expected to climb to 885.8 million cu m (1 cu m = 35.3 cu ft) a year from the present demand level of 679.2 billion cu m. Alaska's North Slope and the Mackenzie Delta were estimated to hold 2.8 billion and 707.9 million cu m, respectively, and the exploration potential was even larger. These huge gas reserves constituted the major proven untapped and secure supply of natural gas for North America.

      Three main pipeline options were being considered. The Alaska pipeline route, estimated to cost $17.2 billion, would carry gas from the vast reserves at Prudhoe Bay south along the Alaska Highway through the Yukon and across British Columbia and Alberta to the U.S. markets. A second, so-called over-the-top route would transport Prudhoe Bay gas along the Beaufort Sea coast to Inuvik, N.W.Terr., where it would be combined with gas from the Mackenzie Delta. A single pipeline carrying gas from both Alaskan and Delta reserves would then continue down the Mackenzie Valley to southern markets. The preliminary cost estimate of this route was $15 billion.

      In Canada a consortium of four gas producers proposed a stand-alone pipeline from Inuvik to transport up to 42 million cu m of gas a day south down the Mackenzie Valley to northern Alberta to hook up with existing Canadian pipeline systems. The cost was estimated at $3 billion, with another $1 billion needed for the drilling and exploration infrastructure to support the operations. In addition, the government of the Northwest Territories requested $133 million to establish an infrastructure that would facilitate the building of the pipeline. The territorial government also wanted revenue generated from resource development to be shared among the federal, territorial, and aboriginal governments.

      Whichever route was chosen, any northern pipeline would face the most extensive and complex regulatory exercises ever held in Canada and the United States before a final decision was made to proceed with the construction. The politics of the various pipeline projects became mired in conflicting interests between the various federal, state, and territorial governments and industry, environmentalist, and aboriginal organizations. In April the U.S. Senate approved some $10 billion in loan guarantees and potentially billions more in tax credits aimed at supporting a $3.25-per-thousand-cubic-feet floor price of gas sold by Alaskan gas producers. The legislation also contained language that would eliminate all pipeline routes that bypassed the Alaskan heartland, including the proposed route along the North Slope of Alaska. By midyear, industry spokespersons were indicating that the cost projections for the Alaskan pipeline project had increased to $19.4 billion after larger start-up expenses and increased pipeline capacity were factored in, which made, the project uneconomical. Proponents suggested that the decision to build the pipeline would likely be delayed until 2003, citing fiscal uncertainty in Alaska and the need to await outcomes of negotiations concerning energy legislation being considered by the U.S. Congress.

      Meanwhile, in Canada the Mackenzie Valley pipeline proponents announced that they had concluded their project-feasibility study and intended to go on to the next stage of pipeline development with the expectation that delta gas could be onstream in six to eight years. There was pressure on the Canadian government to provide subsidies for the building of roads and other infrastructure to support construction and to move quickly to deal with aboriginal land claims on the pipeline route.

      In May the U.S. Geological Survey reported that National Petroleum Reserve—Alaska likely contained a mean amount of 1.5 billion cu m (9.3 billion bbl) of recoverable oil, up to four times the amount reported in 1980. The reserve, located west of Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope and created specifically for development before World War II, had been partly opened for drilling, with stringent environmental restrictions, in 1998. Washington had made developing the oil reserve an energy priority but had not announced specific plans for exploiting its potential.

      In March U.S. Navy scientists predicted that routine commercial shipping would flow across the Arctic Ocean within 10 years. The Arctic ice cap was reported to be shrinking 4% a decade, and submarine sonar information suggested that ice cover had decreased by as much as 40% since 1970. The political consequences could be considerable for Canada's Northwest Passage and Russia's Northern Sea Route. Both Canada and Russia considered these passages to be their territorial waters, while the United States considered them international waters.

      Frustrated by a number of unfavourable decisions against it by the International Whaling Commission, Japan led a successful drive to deny Alaskan and Siberian native peoples a renewal of permission to hunt whales. This was the first time in the 56-year history of the commission that quotas allowing subsistence whaling had been rejected. A group of privately funded Japanese scientists developed a plan to create an Ice Age wildlife park in Siberia that eventually could feature a genetic hybrid of the extinct mammoth and modern-day elephants. The scientists were conducting excavations in Siberia in the hope of discovering a frozen mammoth specimen preserved well enough in the permafrost for its sperm to be used to impregnate an elephant.

      In August Inuit from across the North met at the general assembly of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in Kuujjuaq, Arctic Quebec, to discuss many Inuit issues, including the idea of a single alphabet for Inuktitut, the Inuit language. The Inuit currently used the Roman and Cyrillic alphabets, syllabic symbols, and a half dozen spelling variations within those writing systems.

Kenneth de la Barre

▪ 2002

The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30′ N], climatic [above the 10 °C (50 °F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or in human terms (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures—Inuit [Eskimo] and Aleut in North America and Russia, Sami [Lapp] in northern Scandinavia and Russia, and 29 other peoples of the Russian North, Siberia, East Asia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of eight countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Greenland (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14,090,000 sq km (5,440,000 sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region. The land area consists of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. The population (2001 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures is about 375,000. International organizations concerned with the Arctic include the Arctic Council, institutions of the Barents Region, and the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat. International scientific cooperation of the Arctic is the focus of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

      Although the Arctic was one of the most complicated and expensive areas in the world in which to operate, petroleum, mining, and transportation companies were aggressively exploring North America's last great frontier in 2001. From BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.'s Northstar project in the Beaufort Sea to three large oil and gas fields discovered inside the 9.3-million-ha (23-million-ac) National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska, oil and gas exploration and development were surging. Throughout 2001 Alaskan and western Canadian Arctic natural gas producers went forward with government lobbying and with plans to build huge new pipeline projects to move northern natural gas reserves to U.S. markets. In a related development, U.S. Pres. George W. Bush proposed opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration. There was also renewed interest in building a Canada-Alaska railway that would run parallel to one of the pipeline proposals and that could eventually be linked to Russia via a tunnel across the Bering Strait.

      Early in the year a draft agreement was reached between the Canadian government, the Northwest Territories, and aboriginal groups to establish a one-stop regulatory process and streamline a review of two potential natural gas pipelines. One proposal was for a stand-alone pipeline that would only carry the estimated reserves of 254.8 billion cu m (1 cu m = about 35.3 cu ft) of Mackenzie (River) Delta Canadian natural gas. The other was for the so-called over-the-top Beaufort Sea route, in which gas from the much larger Prudhoe Bay gas fields in northern Alaska would be piped offshore along the northern coast of the Yukon Territory to the Mackenzie Delta in the Northwest Territories; from there it would be sent to southern markets with the Canadian gas.

      During the summer doubt was cast on the Canadian pipeline because of the withdrawal of support by key native groups unless developers agreed to certain conditions, including resource revenue agreements and an equal role for native groups in monitoring the environmental impacts of the project. In June a proposal was endorsed by which native groups would own the pipeline while one of the competing pipeline companies, Arctic Resources Co., would manage it under a long-term contract. The native groups also considered a proposal from an ExxonMobil group that would have given them a one-third stake in a proposed $3 billion pipeline. It was possible that the massive project to take Alaska natural gas reserves—estimated to hold about 991 billion cu m of gas—to markets in the U.S. would hinge on a Canada-U.S. treaty signed in 1977. Foothills Pipe Lines Ltd. claimed that, on the basis of the treaty, they had sole authority to transport Alaska natural gas to market, using the land-based Alaska Highway pipeline route. A consortium of Alaska gas producers—a partnership of ExxonMobil, BP (formerly British Petroleum), and Phillips—initiated a $100 million study of all the alternative pipeline routes that they initially estimated would cost $15 billion–$20 billion.

      In August the Alaska Gas Producers announced that their early analysis showed that none of the pipeline options was economically feasible. Their early conclusions were that costs would be too high—$15 billion if the pipeline ran through the Beaufort Sea to the Mackenzie Delta or $17.2 billion if the pipeline was routed along the Alaska Highway through the Yukon to the continental U.S. A separate feasibility study, begun in early 2000, on how to exploit natural gas reserves in the Mackenzie Delta was also expected by the end of the year, according to Imperial Oil Ltd., a Canadian company in which ExxonMobil held a majority interest.

      In September the World Wildlife Fund called for the eight countries sharing the Arctic to set aside at least 20% of the region as nature preserves and protected areas by 2010. The conservation call came as pressure for industrial development in the North intensified. Canadian government analysts announced in January that they believed that the eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut had huge reserves of precious metals, including scarce platinum and palladium and diamonds. In Iceland there were proposals to develop major new hydroelectric facilities. Norilsk, Russia, had emerged as one of the most prosperous cities in the former Soviet Union, while achieving a reputation as the world's most polluted Arctic metropolis. Studies showed that traces of heavy metal from Norilsk's vast nickel, copper, and palladium smelters were among the leading sources of toxic pollutants in the Canadian North.

      According to a two-decade study based on NASA satellite images, the northern part of the world—from Alaska to Canada and Russia—was becoming warmer and greener and the growing season was longer as global temperatures rose. The increased vegetation growth was especially pronounced in woodlands and forests, ranging from Central Europe to Siberia and the eastern edge of Russia. Average temperatures could increase about 2–6 °C (3.6–10.8 °F) over the next century, however, and plant life might not be able to adjust to such dramatic changes. The Wall Street Journal reported that the thawing of polar ice and the opening of the once unnavigable Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic was creating a potential boon for shipping and other commerce, but it also presented an increased security problem. Canadian defense facilities had detected undeclared foreign submarine activity in the Far North. According to a June report from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, the warming trend had melted about 2,490,000 sq km (960,000 sq mi), or roughly 10% of the Arctic's sea ice. The resulting rise in sea level had forced some Alaskan communities to make plans to move their coastal villages inland to higher ground.

      In September the journal Nature reported that stone tools, animal bones, and an incised mammoth tusk found at a site on the Usa River at the Arctic Circle in Russia had provided what a team of Russian and Norwegian researchers said was the first evidence that modern humans or Neanderthals lived in the Arctic more than 30,000 years ago. This was at least 15,000 years earlier than previously reported.

      The Nunavik Commission, created in November 1999, presented its recommendations for a new form of government for the Arctic region of Quebec, which was largely populated by Inuit. Among the important recommendations was the creation of nonethnic public institutions for the region, such as a Nunavik Assembly, a Council of Elders, and a Court of Justice, as well as the recognition of English, French, and Inuktitut (Inuit) as Nunavik's official languages.

Kenneth De La Barre

▪ 2001

The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30′ N], climatic [above the 10 °C (50 °F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or in human terms (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures—Inuit [Eskimo] and Aleut in North America and Russia, Saami [Lapp] in northern Scandinavia and Russia, and 29 other peoples of the Russian North, Siberia, East Asia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of seven countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Greenland (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14,090,000 sq km (5,440,000 sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region. The land area consists of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. The population (2000 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures is 375,000. International organizations concerned with the Arctic include the Arctic Council, two institutions of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, and the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat. International scientific cooperation of the Arctic is the focus of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

      After more than two decades, oil and natural gas companies, governments, and some indigenous groups were in 2000 once again enthusiastic about developing the petroleum resources of northern Alaska and Canada. In the mid-1970s, citing uncertainties about the environment and unsettled land claims, a public commission headed by British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Thomas Berger had derailed plans to establish a pipeline corridor extending from the Beaufort Sea down the Mackenzie River valley to southern markets in the U.S. An alternative pipeline proposal was suggested that would have brought Alaska's Prudhoe Bay natural gas down the Alaska Highway to be joined to a connecting pipeline along the Dempster Highway in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. This spur line eventually would have tapped into gas reserves from the Mackenzie delta. Canada's National Energy Board had approved this alternative in July 1977.

      In 2000 the economics of natural gas markets and improved pipeline technology appeared to make the 1970s projects more viable than at any time in the past. Conventional gas reserves in other areas were in decline, and energy prices were at record high levels. Technology had also advanced to such an extent that a pipeline could be built at a fraction of its cost in the late 1970s and provide greater gas throughput. In addition, the settlement of land claims in the areas affected by the pipeline in Alaska and in the Mackenzie River valley offered many opportunities for the indigenous inhabitants to participate in the potential benefits of oil and gas development. Producers in the U.S. and Canada were also speculating that a pipeline would spur new exploration activities that would lead to the discovery of enormous additional natural gas reserves. By April the U.S. Federal Trade Commission had also approved the $27.6 billion purchase of the Atlantic Richfield Co. by BP Amoco PLC. As part of the deal, BP Amoco nearly doubled its share of Prudhoe Bay's natural gas, which gave the company a greater incentive to develop this huge resource.

      In May a yearlong round of government-to-government meetings began between Alaska's 227 federally recognized tribes to define the roles and responsibilities of tribes and state agencies. Tribal sovereignty advocates had lobbied for recognition in Alaska for more than a decade. Alaska tribes had long sought more authority and influence over a range of issues, including law enforcement, education, and the environment.

      Vigorous debate continued on the opening of the Arctic Natural Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploration and development. The ANWR, about eight million hectares (1 ha = 2.47 ac) in area, was established as part of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, signed into law by U.S. Pres. Jimmy Carter in 1980. Although the act was one of the nation's most sweeping pieces of conservation legislation, the ANWR's 607,287-ha coastal plain (known by its technical designation as the 1002 area) was not protected from future oil exploration. Conservation groups and the local Gwich'in Indians claimed that the area is precious for wildlife and as an Arctic ecosystem and that oil production would disrupt the 129,000-strong Porcupine Caribou Herd, the Indians' main source of food.

      In October the United States and Russia initialed an agreement that would help preserve the polar bear population, estimated between 22,000 and 28,000 worldwide. Quotas were established for subsistence hunting by native tribes in Alaska and the Chukchi okrug of Siberia.

      Throughout the year press reports, research studies, and indigenous knowledge confirmed that climate change was already reworking the Arctic landscape and affecting the lives of its inhabitants. Average temperatures in some parts of the Canadian North were rising at a rate of about 1 °C (1.8 °F) each decade. Glaciers were in retreat. In July the Associated Press reported that a warming climate was melting more than 50,000 billion tons of water a year from the Greenland ice sheet. This was adding to a 23-cm (9-in) rise in sea level throughout the world during the past century and was increasing the risk of coastal flooding. Scientists also reported a thinning of the polar ice cap. Arctic pack ice was melting so rapidly that predictions were that it might be possible within a few decades to use the legendary Northwest Passage routinely as a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

      The climate change could result in the eventual extinction of plants and animals or their permanent forced migration to find other suitable habitats. In some areas it was expected that in order to survive species would have to move 10 times faster than they did during the last ice age.

      In September the Toronto Globe and Mail reported that RAO Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest nickel-mining company, had announced a restructuring of its vast mining operations in Siberia. Already supplying about 40% of the world's palladium and about 20% of its platinum and nickel, Norilsk was undertaking a $3.5 billion program to modernize its mining assets by 2010. Because of high commodity prices, the company was expected to generate a surplus cash flow of $3 billion in 2000.

      Pursuant to the results of a Canadian-Russian feasibility study released in October, commercial airlines were expected to begin flying nonstop over the North Pole through Canadian-Russian airspace sometime during 2001. The polar air routes were expected to save North American airlines bound for Asia millions of dollars annually, which would result in lower ticket prices and save passengers thousands of hours in flying time.

Kenneth de la Barre

▪ 2000

The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30' N], climatic [above the 10° C (50° F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or in human terms (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures—Inuit (Eskimo) and Aleut in North America; Saami (Lapp) in northern Scandinavia; and Uralic, Paleosiberian, Middle Asian, and Arctic peoples in northern Russia and Siberia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of seven countries: Canada, United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Greenland (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14,090,000 sq km (5,440,000 sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region. The land area consists of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. The population (1999 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures is 375,000. International organizations concerned with the Arctic include the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the Saami Council, and the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North. International scientific cooperation of the Arctic is the focus of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

      In March 1999, as the 10th anniversary passed of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound, the Anchorage Daily News reported that the five-year-old class-action lawsuit, originally settled for $5 billion, against Exxon Corp. had not yet been resolved. None of the estimated 35,000 plaintiffs had received payment, though many were due to receive $1 million or more. Exxon was reported to have paid out $300 million to fishers for losses they incurred in 1989 for not being able to fish and an additional $2 billion to clean up the spill. Exxon also paid $1 billion to settle state and federal claims. The company was appealing the class-action court decision because it did not believe that additional punitive damages were warranted.

      In April BP Amoco announced plans to buy the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO). This estimated $27 billion acquisition, if successful, would make BP Amoco the world's second largest oil company. Alaska would then become the company's biggest producer. Because nearly 60% of the state's budget and 40% of its total economic activity came from North Slope oil fields, a takeover of ARCO would give BP Amoco unprecedented influence over Alaska's future. The company announced plans to invest $5 billion over the next five years to further develop its North Slope oil and gas fields and its small new oil fields in the Arctic, such as Badami and North Star.

      In May, after more than 60 years, hunters from the Bering Strait island of Little Diomede landed a bowhead whale. The 8.5-m (28-ft)-long whale, estimated to weigh 25 metric tons, was landed by a six-member crew using a walrus-skin boat. After being recognized by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, the community did not obtain the right to kill bowheads by the International Whaling Commission until 1991. Since then, Diomede hunters had had the right to land two bowheads a year. It was expected that landing the bowheads would revive cultural ceremonies and the role of community elders, which had been associated with this traditional hunting practice.

      On April 1 the map of Canada changed dramatically. On that date the newly formed territory of Nunavut joined the 10 provinces and two other territories constituting the second largest country in the world. (See Nunavut. (Nunavut: The Birth of a New Territory )) The more politically and ethnically complex Northwest Territories (NWT), in Canada's western Arctic, was also in the process of trying to re-create itself. Because of still-unsettled land claims, proposals to reconcile the aboriginal right of self-government of eight different aboriginal groups with government for the entire territory had been sidetracked. It appeared that each group would work out its own widely varying arrangements with the NWT government regarding jurisdictional matters. Early in 1999 reports in the Toronto Globe and Mail speculated that the future economy of the NWT and Nunavut would be built on the exploitation of nonrenewable resources, such as diamond and gold mining, and on the development of a sustainable tourism industry.

      Scientists reported that Canada's best-known population of polar bears, living in the area around Churchill in northern Manitoba, was becoming much thinner and was producing fewer offspring—the result, they concluded, of global warming. Male bears normally weigh up to 600 kg, but the weight of the average male had fallen by 80–100 kg during the past 25 years (1 kg=2.2 lb). Female bears were having fewer triplet cubs, another indication that the bears were not receiving enough nourishment. The bears spend part of their year on land and part on sea ice, where most of their feeding takes place, mostly on seals. The sea ice appeared to be melting up to two weeks earlier than normal because temperatures in the area had undergone a dramatic increase during the past century, rising about 1.8° C (3.24° F). This forced the bears onto the land, where they ate principally grasses and berries until the sea ice froze in November.

      In July a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania was reported to be excavating a 45 million-year-old fossil forest located on Axel Heiberg, an uninhabited island in the Canadian Arctic. Discovered in 1985, the forest was recognized as one of the largest and best-preserved fossil sites of its kind and was being promoted for status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Researchers mapped more than 1,000 tree stumps from a time when the polar region was warm enough to produce redwood swamps and boreal forests inhabited by rhinoceros-like animals and alligators. The American scientists were attempting to reconstruct the climatic, atmospheric, and environmental conditions that permitted such a forest in the extreme High Arctic.

      Early in the year the Canadian branch of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference spearheaded a $10 million program of humanitarian aid for the Russian Far North. The aid was destined to help feed about 1,500 aboriginal people and others in many communities in Chukotka, an area near the Bering Strait. The Russian Far North, home to an estimated 12 million people, continued to suffer some of the worst effects of the country's economic crisis. At the same time, it was reported that thick ice had prevented a Russian tanker and an accompanying icebreaker from delivering 10,000 metric tons of badly needed fuel oil to the region.

Kenneth de la Barre

▪ 1999

      The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30′ N], climatic [north of the 10° C (50° F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or human (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures—Inuit, or Eskimo, and Aleut in North America; Saami, or Lapp, in northern Scandinavia; and, west to east, Uralic, Paleosiberian, Middle Asian, and Arctic peoples in northern Russia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of seven countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Green-land (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14,090,000 sq km (5,440,000 sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region, the remaining land area consisting of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. Population (1999 est.) of peoples be-longing to the circumpolar cultures, more than 400,000 (including more than 200,000 in Russia). International organizations concerned with the Arctic include: the Arctic Council, the International Arc-tic Science Committee, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and the Saami Council. The Association of Indigenous Minorities of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation represents the interests of the 31 indigenous peoples of northern Russia.

      Late in 1997 Gov. Tony Knowles of Alaska announced the first new North Slope oil field in 10 years. The Badami oil field, located about 55 km (1 km = 0.62 mi) from Prudhoe Bay, was owned by BP Ltd. The field's recoverable reserves were estimated at 120 million bbl and were expected to produce up to 30,000 bbl of oil a day during its 25-year life. Construction of the site injected $200 million into the Alaskan economy, and the state was expected to receive $350 million in royalties during the life of the field.

      Under a controversial plan announced in August 1998, almost two million hectares (1 ha = 2.47 ac) in the National Petroleum Reserve on Alaska's North Slope would be reopened to oil and gas leasing. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt indicated that the government was seeking to achieve in the reserve a balance between protecting sensitive environmental areas that provide habitat for caribou, grizzly bears, and birds and allowing drilling on land that industry believed was rich in oil. The nine million-hectare reserve was created in 1923 to ensure that the U.S. Navy had access to oil in a national emergency. According to industry estimates, it may hold between 400 million and one billion barrels of oil, far less than the Prudhoe Bay oil fields to the east.

      The plan did not affect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, farther east along the Beaufort Sea coast. In May a U.S. Geological Survey report increased the mid-range estimate of oil under the refuge to 20.7 billion bbl, up from the 13.8 billion bbl previously reported in 1987. The increased estimates were based on data from drilling sites outside the refuge, new computer analyses of seismic data collected in 1987, and the impacts of improved oil-recovery technologies that reduced the cost of production and the adverse environmental effects.

      In August it was reported that a Canadian company, Foothills Pipelines Ltd., had committed itself to a 22% interest in a new pipeline project—the Alaskan North Slope Project Sponsor Agreement. The multibillion-dollar project would involve the building of gas-conditioning facilities on the North Slope, a 1,300-km pipeline to Valdez, a gas-liquefaction facility, and tankers to transport the gas to markets. The agreement was seen as an encouragement for future northern natural gas development in the western Canadian Arctic. Governor Knowles pointed out that Alaska's North Slope was endowed with an estimated one trillion cubic metres of natural gas (1 cu m = 35.3 cu ft). He indicated that the project would create an estimated 10,000 construction jobs as well as 600 permanent jobs operating the pipeline and other facilities.

      In September the Yukon News reported on a meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, of the Northern Forum, a nongovernmental organization of 22 regional governments—territories, prefectures, provinces, and counties—from across the Arctic. Among the problems discussed were air pollution in the polar regions; reindeer herding in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia; the management of fish stocks that were being depleted in Norway, Alaska, and Russia; forest-management issues in northern Sweden and the Yukon in Canada; tourist development; exchange programs for students; and the possible creation of an international Arctic development bank.

      The government of the Northwest Territories (NWT) in Canada laid out its vision for administering the western portion of the NWT after the eastern portion became a separate political entity—called Nunavut—in April 1999. The controversial proposal was for a new kind of "partnership government" between native leaders and the territorial government to govern the western NWT as equal partners. The proposal also called on the Canadian government to transfer control of oil, gas, and minerals to the people who lived in the North. The fact that the NWT government might eventually become unrepresentative of all the people in its territory—split evenly between the native and nonnative population—went to the heart of one of the most sensitive issues in the North.

      In a judgment known as the Delgamuukw case, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in December 1997 that native people have a constitutional and historic right to their ancestral lands and that governments cannot override that right without appropriate consultation and compensation. The court also ruled that oral history—information and knowledge passed from generation to generation—must be regarded as serious evidence in determining native claims. One result of the Delgamuukw case was that the Inuit and other native people of Arctic Labrador and Quebec were able to challenge governments successfully concerning the development of several large projects, including the nickel mine at Voisey Bay being developed by Inco. Ltd. and the proposed $12 billion development of the hydroelectric potential of the lower Churchill River in Labrador.

      The $19.5 million Project SHEBA—short for Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean—ended in mid-October, one year after the Canadian Coast Guard ship Des Groseilliers had rammed its way 200 km into the Arctic Ocean ice pack. The icebreaker was allowed to freeze there as a floating research station while as many as 15 crew and 45 scientists from Canada, Japan, The Netherlands, and the U.S. conducted experiments in temporary buildings set up on the ice surrounding the vessel. The study's main purpose was to look at the impact of global warming on the polar ice pack, half of which freezes and refreezes each year. Some scientists predicted that if the Earth heated up by means of global warming, the ice could vanish. Other SHEBA studies found that the Arctic Ocean was more productive than scientists had predicted and that mercury, one of the contaminants measured, was found in snow at 20 times the level found in southern Canada. During its year-long drift Des Groseilliers traveled 11-19 km a day.

      New atmospheric and scientific data reported in September were consistent with computer models that predicted that higher latitudes would be disproportionately impacted by higher temperatures. For example, while summer temperatures were 4.86° C (2.7° F) above normal across Canada, they were more than 9° C (5° F) above normal in parts of the NWT. These higher temperatures matched other data recorded throughout the world. The Yukon News reported in August that global warming would likely prove detrimental to the native subsistence economy. Trapping, for example, would be affected because prime fur requires freezing temperatures, which were now occurring later in the winter, when there is little daylight.

      Following an international agreement reached in Scotland in June, Greenland closed its commercial salmon fishery, cutting off an industry that caught a large number of fish as they headed home to Canadian rivers. This was the first time in history no commercial fishermen were allowed to catch Canadian salmon in the eastern Arctic. Canada had previously shut down the commercial fisheries on its east coast. The closing down of these fisheries was estimated to have saved approximately 25,000 salmon in 1998.

      A British explorer, David Hempleman-Adams, achieved the last leg of what was called the "adventurers' grand slam" when he completed a 965.5-km journey on foot to reach the geographic North Pole at the end of April. He previously had climbed the highest peaks of all seven continents and had reached three of the four poles, magnetic and geographic, both north and south. He and his Norwegian trekking partner, Rune Gjeldnes, completed the journey on skis 54 days after leaving their starting point on Ward Hunt Island in Canada's Arctic.

KENNETH DE LA BARRE

▪ 1998

      During 1997 U.S. and Canadian oil and gas companies made renewed efforts to proceed with exploration and development in environmentally sensitive areas of arctic Alaska and the northern part of Canada's Yukon. In January BP Exploration Alaska Inc. announced plans to increase capital spending in Alaska by $1 billion to $3.5 billion over the next five years and reverse the fall in oil production from Alaska's North Slope. The company expected to increase its share of oil production to nearly 600,000 bbl a day by 2002, a reversal from the decline once considered inevitable. The firm also hoped to add five billion barrels in recoverable oil reserves over the following decade, in addition to possible development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a federally owned reserve west of Prudhoe Bay, or in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Reports that BP Exploration and Chevron USA were proceeding to develop the 100 million-bbl Sourdough Prospect oil field as early as 1998 raised concern among environmental groups. The Alaska Wilderness League feared that the project, which bordered the ANWR and the 600,000-ha (1.5 million-ac) coastal plain, could result in a network of pipelines, roads, and drilling pads that might affect the wildlife in the 7.7 million-ha (19 million-ac) refuge, which was also the birthing grounds of the 150,000 porcupine caribou herd that migrated into the Yukon and Northwest Territories (NWT). In February a wilderness bill was introduced in the U.S. Congress to give permanent wilderness protection to the coastal plain.

      A dispute between Alaska and the U.S. government over ownership of the tidelands, offshore lagoons, and estuaries along the approximately 200-km (125-mi) Arctic Refuge coastline could also affect development. Alaska planned to lease these lands to oil and gas companies, whereas the U.S. wanted to protect them as part of the ANWR. In May a Yukon company, Northern Cross Ltd., applied for permits to reopen 25-year-old wellheads for testing purposes near Eagle Plains—an area that was part of the porcupine caribou herd's winter feeding range. By June the Canadian government had approved the company's plans to begin redeveloping its natural gas property. Environmental groups were concerned that the project would give pro-development lobbyists ammunition to encourage development in the herd's North Slope calving grounds.

      The 13 regional for-profit corporations created under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act celebrated their 26th anniversary in 1997. The largest of the corporations reported a net worth of $265 million in 1997 and paid out over $13 million to its aboriginal shareholders. In southeastern Alaska native corporations provided an estimated one in 10 jobs. The Trans-Alaska pipeline marked its 20th anniversary.

      According to a report issued in October by the Northwest Territories, the cost estimated for carving a new territory, Nunavut, out of the NWT in 1999 would be almost double (about $286 million) the amount that the federal government originally had budgeted ($150 million). The additional funds would be needed to establish a government and infrastructure for Nunavut. The NWT would decentralize its main government departments in communities across the Arctic in an effort to spread employment opportunities among the widely dispersed communities, where average unemployment hovered around 30%.

      Two mines planned for the Northwest Territories could make Canada one of the world's top diamond-producing nations. Joint ventures by British, Canadian, and Australian companies—led by Broken Hill Pty. Co. (BHP) and Rio Tinto PLC—could produce 10% of global diamond output. The NWT's 43 diamond projects outnumbered gold and other mining ventures. The BHP and Rio Tinto projects, costing an estimated $900 million and $750 million, respectively, were expected to yield 11 million carats of high-quality diamonds as early as 1998.

      In September, faced with an extensive environmental-impact assessment process and demands by the Innu and Inuit aboriginal groups for impact and benefits agreements, Inco Ltd., the world's largest nickel producer announced a one-year delay, until late 2000 at the earliest, in the proposed start-up of its Voisey Bay nickel project in northern Labrador. Inco had already paid $4.3 billion to acquire the project—billed as the largest nickel find ever—and had planned to invest another $1.4 billion-$2 billion in a mine, mill, and smelter.

      Also in September, after four years of negotiations, it was reported that a $28 billion U.S.-Russian oil venture to develop the Priobskoye oil field in Siberia had broken down because of financial disagreements between the Russian oil giant Yukos and Amoco, its American partner. After spending more than $100 million, and with proven reserves of some 600 million tons of oil, Amoco expected to boost its own reserves significantly. The Amoco deal was the second major U.S.-Russian venture to unravel in the same period. Citing "legal" difficulties, the Russian government in August annulled the results of a bid won by the Exxon Corp. to develop huge oil fields in Russia's far north.

      In January former Canadian prime minister John Turner, acting on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund, dropped a lawsuit after reaching an agreement with the federal government that a system of protected places—free from mining and other resource development—would be established in the NWT by the year 2000. The federal and NWT governments agreed to set aside 12% of the NWT as ecologically protected areas and acknowledged that project proponents and environmental-impact assessors would take into account the notion of "potentially protected natural areas" in the course of evaluating the impacts of future resource developments.

      After four years of research, the biggest conservation project in North America moved closer to reality. The creation of the "Y2Y," a 3,000-km (1,800-mi) expanse of parks and wilderness preserves stretching through the northern Rocky Mountains from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to the Yukon and NWT, was announced in October. The purpose of Y2Y was to create a development-free corridor of prime habitat so that wildlife could move freely between Canada and the U.S. The wildlife population there included 27,000 moose, 15,000 elk, 9,000 sheep, 5,000 mountain goats, 3,500 woodland caribou, 1,000 wolves, and 1,000 grizzly and black bears.

      In June a study by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program reported that ozone depletion, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, climate change, and pollutants generated by humans were a more serious threat to the Arctic environment than had previously been believed. The occurrence of ozone "holes" in the Arctic atmosphere in the spring was particularly damaging because humans and ecosystems were more vulnerable to UV radiation at that time. The report also concluded that the impact of the warming climate in the Arctic, already under way, could influence the rest of the Earth both by increasing the sea level through glacial melt and by altering oceanic circulation, which was responsible for transporting colder water from the Arctic to lower latitudes.

KENNETH DE LA BARRE
      This article updates Arctic.

      This article updates Arctic.

▪ 1997

      The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30' N], climatic [above the 10° C (50° F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or human (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures—Inuit, or Eskimo, and Aleut in North America; Saami, or Lapp, in northern Scandinavia; and, west to east, Uralic, Paleosiberian, Middle Asian, and Arctic peoples in northern Russia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of seven countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Greenland (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14,090,000 sq km (5,440,000 sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region, the remaining land area consisting of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. Population (1996 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures, 1,280,000. International organizations concerned with the Arctic include: the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, the Council of the Euro-Arctic Region, the International Arctic Committee, the International Arctic Science Committee, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and (from 1996) the Arctic Council.

      In October 1996 ARCO Alaska Inc. announced plans to develop the Colville River Delta, a large new 300 million-bbl oil field west of Prudhoe Bay. Work at the site was expected to begin in about one year, with oil flowing to market at a rate of 60,000 bbl a day by the year 2001. The project could bring an estimated $1 billion in royalties and taxes to the state government, which depended upon oil revenues for some 80% of its funding. Although far smaller than the Prudhoe Bay field, the find was the first significant discovery for ARCO in Alaska since 1988 and the first field discovered on land partially owned by a native corporation; the Arctic Slope Regional Corp. would also receive a share of the royalties. The estimated $800 million development of the field would include a pipeline that eventually would be tied into the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

      In April, after four years of frenzied exploration activity, BHP announced that it was almost ready to proceed with development at Lac de Gras, the site of North America's first commercial diamond mine. It was located approximately 300 km (185 mi) northeast of Yellowknife in Canada's Northwest Territories (NWT). The $1.2 billion project was expected to last 25 years and generate $500 million a year in revenues. The mine initially would provide 1,000 construction jobs and, when operational, 650 permanent positions. Environmentalists were concerned about the mine's impact on the 350,000 caribou in the Bathurst herd and the five lakes that would be drained to remove the precious stones. Local communities and native organizations feared that aboriginal land claims would be ignored and that new wealth would result in increased crime and other social problems. These and other concerns were addressed by a federal government review panel charged with evaluating both the environmental and the social impact. In June, after nearly two years of studies and public hearings, the panel gave conditional approval for the project and made 29 recommendations on a broad range of issues. By the end of the year the federal government had accepted the panel's recommendations and approved the project. The government agreed to establish an independent monitoring agency and required that substantial progress on legally binding impact and benefit agreements with aboriginal groups affected by the project be completed before final approval was given. BHP also had begun reaching agreements with the four main native groups affected by the project. These agreements included a promise that up to two-thirds of its workforce would be hired from northern and aboriginal communities.

      In October a constitutional plan was proposed that would protect native interests in the western section of the NWT once the new territory of Nunavut was carved out of the eastern section of the NWT in 1999. Under the proposal, aboriginal groups would be guaranteed at least one-third of the proposed legislative seats, and a two-thirds majority vote would be required for passing legislation.

      After voting overwhelmingly against Quebec sovereignty in the 1995 provincewide referendum, the Inuit and Cree of northern Quebec considered ways in which to maintain their place in Canada as uncertainty over the future of Quebec remained. At an annual general meeting of Inuit in March, they discussed ways of sharing Inuit land-claim benefits, especially hunting and fishing rights, with Inuit in Labrador and the NWT and the possibility of establishing closer political links with Nunavut to the north and the Cree to the south.

      Late in the year Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien announced that the government had set aside land for two new national parks in the NWT. The proposed parks—Wager Bay on the western coast of Roes Welcome Sound and Bathurst Island near the magnetic North Pole—would be protected from staking for minerals or any other development until the government had secured land-claim agreements with aboriginal communities and the NWT government. In June the heritage minister announced the establishment of a new 16,340-sq km (6,310-sq mi) national park, Tuktut Nogait, on the edge of the Arctic Ocean.

      In May new evidence released by Ohio State University's Byrd Polar Research Center suggested that Richard E. Byrd, the famed U.S. polar explorer who claimed to have been the first person to fly over the North Pole—on May 9, 1926—might actually have turned back 240 km (150 mi) short of his goal. The clues were found in Byrd's long-lost diary, which the centre had discovered in a mislabeled box of expedition memorabilia. Confirmation would mean that Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen would claim title to the feat.

      Studies by Canadian and Norwegian scientists over the past decade confirmed that the Arctic had become a major dumping ground for highly toxic chemicals and pesticides, including substances long banned in North America such as DDT, lead, mercury, and radioactive waste. One unexpected discovery was that the Arctic acts as a final destination and a cold trap for vaporized pollutants from the temperate climates of the world.

      In March the World Meteorological Organization announced that the ozone layer had been depleted at various times during the 1995-96 winter by a record 45% over a zone stretching from Greenland to Scandinavia and western Siberia. Combined world Arctic and mid-latitude readings were reported to be about 10% below the 1957-79 mean. Although the decline did not create an ozone hole, as over Antarctica, the organization warned of even greater depletion in the future over the subarctic if cold high-altitude temperatures were combined with increasing concentrations of such ozone-depleting chemicals as the chlorine and bromine used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, and dry-cleaning activities.

      After nearly 25 years of studies at eight far-northern sites in Canada, a research team from the University of Colorado reported in July that the Arctic tundra might in the near future be forested with spruce trees as a result of decades of global warming. Because of the Arctic tree line's sensitivity to climatic change, it was expected to be one of the first major vegetation boundaries to reflect greenhouse warming.

      In September the eight countries (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the U.S.) with Arctic territory created a new international agency, the Arctic Council, to coordinate environmental efforts in the Far North and to deal with common aboriginal issues. Permanent representation at meetings was given to three aboriginal organizations—the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the Saami Council, and the Russian Association of Indigenous Minorities of the North, Siberia, and the Far East.

      (KENNETH DE LA BARRE)

      This article updates Arctic.

▪ 1996

      The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30' N], climatic [above the 10° C (50° F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or human (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures—Inuit, or Eskimo, and Aleut in North America; Saami, or Lapp, in northern Scandinavia; and, west to east, Uralic, Paleosiberian, Middle Asian, and Arctic peoples in northern Russia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of seven countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Greenland (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14,090,000 sq km (5,440,000 sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region, the remaining land area consisting of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. Population (1995 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures, 1,260,000. International organizations concerned with the Arctic include: Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, Council of the Euro-Arctic Region, International Arctic Committee, International Arctic Science Committee, and the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.

      In September 1995 U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton considered blocking development of the so-called 1002 lands in the energy-rich Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the Alaska-Yukon border. The 1002 lands, 607,000 ha (1.5 million ac) of territory along the Beaufort Sea, were thought to contain one of the last great unexplored oil fields in the U.S. The move to declare the area a national monument was well received by the Canadian government, which had established the Ivavvik National Park on the Canadian side of the border in 1984 to prevent oil and gas developments. Development pressure from the energy industry had increased as production and revenues from the massive Prudhoe Bay oil fields to the west of the refuge dwindled. Recent studies, however, had concluded that the oil reserves might be only half of the previously estimated 3.2 billion gal of oil and that oil and gas development would be more disruptive to wildlife, vegetation, and the native communities of Alaska and Yukon than previously believed.

      During 1995 further progress was made in the political development of Canada's Northwest Territories. The split of the territories into two separate regions—and the dividing of assets and the debt of the existing government—were major issues in the October election. The Northwest Territories were scheduled to be divided by April 1, 1999, into an eastern territory—Nunavut—and a new, yet-unnamed western territory. At the beginning of the year, Joe Clark, former prime minister of Canada, chaired a conference that attempted to forge a set of constitutional principles for the new western territory, with a population of about 35,000 people. The central question that was addressed at the conference was the division of power between communities and the regional and central governments. Meanwhile, the 23,000 residents of the eastern Arctic were engaged in planning for the eventual carrying out of self-government in Nunavut.

      In February a native lands-claim settlement between Ottawa and the Yukon was proclaimed in which 8,000 Yukon Indians would receive Can$242.6 million over 15 years in income from some nonrenewable resources and also ownership of 41,439 sq km (16,000 sq mi) of land. The agreement also entrenched the rights of Indians to harvest wildlife and guaranteed them up to 50% representation on boards responsible for land-use, fish and wildlife management, and renewable resource developments.

      In October the Quebec Cree and the Inuit populations held their own referenda to decide whether to remain in Canada, should Quebec decide to establish a separate country. The Cree and Inuit voted overwhelmingly to remain in Canada. Under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the native populations had acquired defined rights to approximately 400,000 sq km (154,000 sq mi) of traditional lands in northern and Arctic Quebec. Earlier in the year the government of Quebec had declared that it would not respect the outcome of any native-run referendum that gave aboriginal communities a mandate to secede from an independent Quebec. In spite of these constitutional differences, Falconbridge in October signed a deal with the Quebec government to invest about Can$495 million in a mine in Nunavik, the Inuit territory in the north of the province.

      In July the Inuit and Innu peoples of Labrador began negotiations on a partnership proposal with several giant mining companies to develop the Voisey Bay mineral discovery. The mine site was located on Labrador's remote northern coast, in a region that was the focus of overlapping land claims by Labrador's 4,000 Inuit and 1,500 Innu. In October new mineral discoveries by Diamond Fields Resources suggested that the area might become one of the world's major sources of nickel.

      In February Greenland threatened to cut its ties to Denmark after Denmark reportedly proposed cutting the island's annual subsidy of about $700 million to just $17 million. The threat was seen more as a sign of frustration than intent because semi-independent Greenland was heavily dependent upon Danish aid and such administrative services as foreign policy, defense, and justice. According to Danish authorities, they sought to reduce the subsidy because Greenland's economy was in sound shape. In 1993, for example, the island had a surplus of $32 million.

      In the face of concerns about the possible collapse of the fishing industry, it was reported in September that the Greenland government was looking at mining and tourism as alternative economic developments. Fishing, which had been the mainstay of Greenland since the island attained full self-government from Denmark in 1979, had helped the Greenlanders become the most industrially developed of the indigenous Arctic societies. More than 5,000 workers were involved in the fishing industry, which brought in about $625,000 annually to Greenland and accounted for almost all its exports. The decline in the industry was being blamed on changes in the environment, overfishing, and bad economic planning that had transferred small-scale fishing activities and people out of tiny settlements into the larger settlements.

      In June participants in the International Arctic Social Science Conference, held in Finland, concluded that Arctic pollution and development were endangering the environment and the lifestyles of the indigenous peoples. It was proposed that "an umbrella organization . . . be created that would be responsible for . . . deciding claims of all parties relating to Arctic pollution." New procedures to analyze the impacts of Arctic pollution were required because existing agreements were not enforceable. The proposal emerged because of concerns about damage to the environment and to native peoples of Russia.

      Time magazine reported that the complex of smelters in Russia's central Siberian city of Norilsk was perhaps the largest source of air pollution in the world, pumping two million tons of sulfur, along with other poisons, into the air each year. Industrial emissions from Siberia were thought to be contributing significantly to the threat of global warming. (KENNETH DE LA BARRE)

      This updates the article Arctic.

▪ 1995

      The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66° 30' N], climatic [above the 10° C (50° F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or human (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures—Inuit, or Eskimo, and Aleut in North America; Saami, or Lapp, in northern Scandinavia; and, west to east, Uralic, Paleosiberian, Middle Asian, and Arctic peoples in northern Russia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of seven countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Greenland (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14,090,000 sq km (5,440,000 sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region, the remaining land area consisting of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. Population (1994 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures, 1,240,000. International organizations concerned with the Arctic include: Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, Council of the Euro-Arctic Region, International Arctic Committee, International Arctic Science Committee, and the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.

      During 1994 the Inuit (Eskimos) of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Russia undertook a number of development and cultural projects, largely under the auspices of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) and also in cooperation with various national and international governments and agencies. The inspiration for some of these initiatives evolved from the formation of the Inuit Business Development Council at the ICC General Assembly held in Inuvik, N.W.T., in 1992 and from the 1992 UN Conference on Economic Development. Both of these large international events provided encouragement for northern indigenous peoples to undertake joint ventures and to exchange ideas and information among themselves and also with indigenous peoples in the Southern Hemisphere. In June a delegation of Inuit from Arctic Quebec visited Greenland to explore the possibilities of cooperation and economic development projects. Representatives from the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee and the Inuit Circumpolar Conference initiated a cooperative program in July between the Inuit of Greenland, Canada, and the U.S. and the Saami people of Russia's Kola Peninsula. On the basis of their experience in their own homelands, the Inuit were exploring ways to assist the Saami in recovering rights to own and manage land, to fish in their traditional rivers, and to herd reindeer. Several Inuit organizations, including the ICC and the Inuit Women's Association, helped organize a meeting in April with representatives of Indian groups in Belize.

      U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton held a historic meeting on the White House lawn in April with representatives of American Indian and Native Alaskan tribes to underscore their new status in dealing with the federal government. He became the first president to meet with leaders of the nearly 550 federally recognized tribes. The president called on his administration to treat the tribes with the same deference given to state governments.

      In a July out-of-court settlement, Exxon Corp. agreed to pay $20 million to 3,500 Alaskan natives who claimed losses after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The Alaskans asserted that the spill destroyed traditional food sources such as seals, kelp, and fish. The settlement did not resolve claims by the natives for alleged damage to their culture and economy. Earlier in the year the U.S. National Park Service had negotiated with the natives so that they could buy tens of thousands of hectares of wilderness within Kenai Fjords National Park. The shores of the park's spectacular glacier-field coastline were among the areas coated with oil from the Exxon Valdez spill, and the funds for purchasing land would come from the Exxon compensation settlement.

      In September, as part of a separate judgment, the Exxon Corp. was ordered by a U.S. federal jury to pay $5 billion in damages to Alaskan natives, commercial fisherman, property owners, and others harmed by the spill. The jury earlier in June had found that the "reckless" actions of Exxon and the ship's captain had caused the oil tanker to run aground on a charted reef in Prince William Sound. In the class-action lawsuit an estimated 14,000 plaintiffs had asked for a $15 billion settlement as a result of damaged fishing and hunting grounds and reduced property values. Exxon argued that the company had learned its lesson after spending nearly $3 billion to clean up the spill and to settle lawsuits filed by Alaska and the U.S. government. In October the company petitioned the courts to overturn or reduce the verdicts in the case.

      In April the New York Times reported that depressed oil prices and a declining supply of oil from Alaska's North Slope was threatening Alaska's state-subsidized lifestyle. The state, which depended on oil royalties for 85% of its budget, was facing a $600 million deficit and also had to reimburse nearly $1 billion taken from a reserve fund to cover the previous year's deficit. In the same month, a consortium of four companies, led by Texaco Inc., formed a new company, Timan Pechora Corp., to continue exploring and possibly develop oil fields in the Timan Pechora Basin, a remote area in northwestern Russia near the Barents Sea. The area was reported to have reserves of two billion barrels of oil. To date, a regional Russian oil agency had drilled more than 130 test holes with a reported above-average success rate of 60%.

      A major environmental disaster was reported in October as an oil pipeline near the town of Usinsk, just below the Arctic Circle in Russia's Komi Republic, failed, spilling some 15 million litres (about 95,000 bbl) of oil into the delicate ecosystem—this figure according to Russian government estimates (outside experts put the figure three or more times higher). The spill was being compared to the Exxon Valdez incident in magnitude and could be the largest ever recorded. The crude had been seeping from poorly made and often patched pipelines since February but had been contained by a 7.5-m (25-ft)-high dike until heavy rainstorms caused the dam to fail on October 1. Two tributaries of the Pechora, the Kolva and Usa rivers, were reportedly polluted. Environmental experts pointed out that cleanup would be extremely difficult if not impossible under the local permafrost conditions. Earlier in 1994 a commission from the Russian Academy of Sciences had recommended a 25-year moratorium on oil drilling because of the adverse effects on the environment.

      In May reports from Canada's Northwest Territories indicated that Inuit and Dene hunters, who were attempting to follow a traditional way of life, appeared to be on a collision course with prospectors looking for diamonds. Since the discovery of diamonds in the area in 1991, an exploration boom had taken place. More than 150 mining companies, including some of the world's largest, reportedly spent hundreds of millions of dollars to explore areas staked over an area the size of Ireland. Because some of the richest discoveries were on land that the native peoples claimed as their hunting grounds, one of the key issues was how much of the diamond wealth would be distributed to the Inuit and Dene. The native groups were negotiating for a share of the revenues, guarantees of jobs, and a role in determining how the land would be used for mining and for traditional purposes. (See also Mining .)

      In April the Inuit in Arctic Quebec signed an agreement in principle with the government-owned utility Hydro-Quebec for compensation estimated by the Inuit to amount to $1 billion over a 50-year period. The agreement was conditional on regulatory approval of Hydro-Quebec's proposed $13.3 billion Great Whale hydroelectric project, which would generate an estimated 3,212 MW of power. In July the Inuit also signed a self-government agreement with the Quebec government that was expected to lead to an elected assembly with wide-ranging powers to govern the province north of latitude 55° N—more than a third of the province's land mass but home to fewer than 10,000 people. By the terms of the agreement, the Inuit would take over the administration of all or part of the justice, social, and education systems as early as 1995.

      In March the 13th Arctic Winter Games took place in Slave Lake, Canada. A record number of approximately 1,400 athletes came from Alaska, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon Territory, Russia, Greenland, and northern Alberta to compete in 19 sports, including traditional winter events such as ice hockey and figure skating as well as uniquely northern sports such as snowshoeing and dogsledding.

      In September a long-lost camp was found in the Canadian Arctic on the northwestern shore of King William Island, where at least four members of the 19th-century Franklin expedition to the Arctic had died. Also found nearby were remnants of wood and metal from a 10-m (33-ft) boat used to carry food and belongings ashore from the ships that had transported Sir John Franklin and 138 men from England in the ill-fated Royal Navy expedition of 1845-48.

      During the summer two coast guard vessels, the USS Polar Sea and the Canadian Louis S. St. Laurent, became the first ships to traverse the Arctic via the North Pole, leaving Nome, Alaska, on July 24 and reaching the pole on August 22. On board were 70 researchers who discovered disturbing and unexplained evidence of warm water beneath the Arctic Ocean ice. It was speculated that the warm water may have displaced the colder, less salty Arctic waters being pushed along the coast of Greenland and down Canada's east coast, contributing to the dramatic decline in codfish stocks and other bottom-dwelling species.

      (KENNETH DE LA BARRE)

      This updates the article Arctic.

▪ 1994

      The United Nations proclaimed 1993 the International Year of the World's Indigenous Peoples. The declaration was a call to raise the profile of indigenous issues throughout the world, especially those concerned with human rights, the environment, economic development, education, and health. In keeping with the theme "a New Partnership," the indigenous aboriginal peoples of the Arctic made considerable progress in their efforts to participate in worldwide environmental and sustainable development activities. In September ministers representing the governments of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States met in Greenland under the auspices of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) and issued the Nuuk Declaration on Environment and Development in the Arctic. The delegates reaffirmed their commitment to protecting and preserving the Arctic environment and fully recognized both the special relationship of the indigenous peoples to the Arctic and their unique contribution to the protection of the Arctic environment. The ministers also formally recognized the special role of indigenous peoples in environmental management and development in the Arctic, the significance of their knowledge and traditional practices, and the ways in which that knowledge could be shared with scientists.

      In October U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton sent greetings to scientists and Inuit (Eskimo) leaders attending an international symposium in Reykjavík, Iceland, on the ecological effects of Arctic airborne contaminants. Clinton stated that the meeting represented an important step toward the sound environmental management of the Arctic since the adoption of AEPS two years earlier. He pointed out that with AEPS and the help of the indigenous Arctic peoples, sustainable economic development and environmental protection in the Arctic could be achieved.

      While the state of Alaska was trying to cope with diminishing revenues from Prudhoe Bay—over 85% of the state's budget comes from oil production—a promising new find in Cook Inlet was announced by the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO). The Sunfish discovery was estimated to hold as much as 750 million bbl of oil, making it the third largest usable oil field in Alaska.

      In February Robert Anderson, the founder of ARCO, announced in Anchorage, Alaska, that he wanted to build a pipeline to take natural gas from the Canadian Arctic to southern Alaska and to markets on the Pacific Rim. The Mackenzie Porcupine Pipeline Co. plan called for a 1,200-km (750-mi) pipeline that would take gas from fields in the Mackenzie Delta to the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage. The $12 billion project was similar to one submitted in the early 1980s by the Yukon Pacific Corp., which proposed a natural gas pipeline along the same route as the trans-Alaska pipeline to take gas from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. The two projects targeted the Pacific Rim countries, where demand for electricity had far outstripped supply. The timing of the Mackenzie project was crucial—to start gas flowing by 1998, at least five years earlier than the Prudhoe Bay project. Rejecting proposals to develop the £7 billion Windy Craggy copper mine, the British Columbia government instead converted 930,000 ha (2.3 million ac) into the Tatshenshini and Alsek Wilderness Park. The announcement included plans to link the new park with adjoining parks in Alaska and the Yukon to create a 8.9 million-ha (22 million-ac) United Nations World Heritage Site.

      In October it was reported that the Canadian government was considering a policy that would allow traditional food—caribou, seal, and whale blubber—to be used instead of cash for child-support and alimony payments in the Northwest Territories, where more than 20,000 Canadian Inuit live outside the cash economy. In the same month, Alaska magazine reported that the courts had granted the Indian communities of Ninilchik, Eklutna, and Knik the right to their own native-only "educational" subsistence fisheries, using scoops, stick fences, and nets. The permits would allow tribal elders to pass on to younger members the traditional methods of harvesting, preserving, and sharing fish.

      The journal Nature published research findings that the tundra on Alaska's North Slope had recently begun releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) into the Earth's atmosphere instead of storing it as in the past. Opinions differed on whether this was an alarming human-induced threat or a cyclic event and on what it could mean to the Arctic environment. The New York Times reported progress in cleaning up Arctic air, but the ground and water still needed work. Over the past decade, Arctic haze—mostly from Western European and Russian industrial smokestacks—had dropped by about 50%. The likely reason was that these areas had reduced the levels of sulfur dioxide emissions by switching from mostly coal and oil to cleaner-burning natural gas. In May at the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, delegates were warned that surface oil pollution, heavy metals, and pesticides could result in a poisoning of the food chain in the circumpolar Arctic regions. Arctic policy makers and researchers attending a national workshop in Anchorage learned that levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), potentially cancer-causing materials once common in electrical transformers, were as high in parts of Alaska as in the cities of the lower 48 states. They also considered evidence that the U.S.S.R. had dumped radioactive waste in the North Pacific for 25 years, starting in 1966. The U.S. Congress spent $10 million in 1993 to study sea life for signs of such contamination. International scientists meeting in June at Woods Hole, Mass., however, found no evidence of danger from the dumping. The New York Times reported in September that Western scientists had examined a sunken Russian submarine and had found that it had been torn apart by an explosion and had possibly leaked plutonium from its nuclear torpedoes. Because currents around the vessel were much weaker than previously believed, it was concluded that any radioactivity would remain on the seafloor rather than being swept toward the rich North Atlantic fisheries. In March Greenpeace reported that the former Soviet navy had used the Arctic Ocean as a giant nuclear scrapyard, dumping waste with more than double the radioactivity released in the Chernobyl disaster. The White Book Report, prepared at the request of Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin, stated that the waste included 18 nuclear reactors from ships and submarines and more than 13,000 containers of solid radioactive waste.

      In May, Yukon's 14 First Nations signed a historic land-claims agreement with the federal government. The Umbrella Final Agreement stipulated that some 8,000 beneficiaries would divide among themselves $280 million and 41,400 sq km (16,000 sq mi), or 8.6%, of the Yukon landmass. The agreement established a joint-management system for wildlife, land use, and other matters. The First Nations were granted responsibility for the areas of education, justice, environmental protection, child welfare, land-use planning, and zoning. The settlement also provided for Indian self-government, including a provision for First Nations to eventually raise revenue through taxation of its membership. In the same month, the Whitehorse Star reported that the Yukon would assume full responsibility for onshore oil and gas development in the North Yukon within 18 months. Both the Council for Yukon Indians and the Inuvialuit in the western Northwest Territories objected to the terms of the agreement, which they felt conflicted with their own respective land-claims agreements.

      Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney signed the Nunavut Agreement at Iqaluit in May, setting in motion the final steps for the creation of Nunavut, meaning "our land" in the Inuit language. The agreement gave the 17,500 Inuit residents outright ownership of an area of some 350,000 sq km (135,100 sq mi), one-fifth of the new territory. The agreement would also provide the Inuit with Can$1,140,000,000 over 14 years; rights to hunt, fish, and trap; and a form of self-government when the territory was created in 1999.

      In August it was announced that private U.S. investors would pay some 1,000 Greenlanders $800,000 plus other benefits not to fish salmon for two years.

      (KENNETH DE LA BARRE)

      This updates the article Arctic.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

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