As the planet warms, the Arctic is warming more than twice as fast. As ice cover is disappearing, average summer sea ice has declined by more than a third since 1979. That’s roughly equal to the entire area of the Western U.S.
This means more than rising sea levels and troubled polar bears. It is also shifting global trade routes and altering the balance of power between countries surrounding the Arctic. KQED's Brian Watt spoke about this with Fran Ulmer, chair of the United States Arctic Research Commission and a visiting professor at Stanford University.
Watt: You have been to the North Pole in the summertime, last summer, I understand. Am I correct?
Ulmer: Summer of 2017, I went to the North Pole on a Russian nuclear icebreaker, and the day we got to the North Pole, it rained, which was stunning to me, and also to the captain of the icebreaker, who had not seen that before. It was another reminder of how rapidly things are changing in the north.