Conflicting territorial claims and climate change effects in the Arctic are resulting in a changing security environment there—and fears of the onset of a new Cold War, with no single governing body for the region.

The recent transformation of the Arctic is driven largely by sea ice melting at an accelerated rate. By September 2020, the Arctic's sea ice extent was significantly degraded in comparison to the average September ice extent for 1981-2010, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. NASA speculates the Arctic Ocean could be essentially ice free in summers by 2050.

Multiple trans-Arctic sea routes have the potential to develop into commercial shipping routes as climate change effects continue. Recognizing the economic implications with a viable Arctic passage, a number of countries have either upgraded their Arctic capabilities or sought investment opportunities and partnerships. Russia has been the most aggressive in securing its position in this new frontier.

For this edition of Maxar Spotlight, we examined the current conditions and extreme trajectory of the Arctic's climate, plus Russia's efforts to expand its presence in the Arctic. Our experts used WeatherDesk and satellite imagery analysis for temperature data and insights on sea ice and military developments.

Read the periodical in full to gain a better understanding of how Maxar’s Earth Intelligence capabilities can help reveal patterns of life and insights to predict, mitigate and resolve crisis and conflict.

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Sneak Peek: (excerpt from Maxar Spotlight, Vol. 26)

Russia accounts for roughly 53% of Arctic Ocean coastline and about half of the Arctic’s total population. In recent years, Russia has increased Arctic military drills, opened previously abandoned Cold War-era military bases and constructed large icebreakers to strengthen its military presence. The country claims to have built about 500 military sites since 2014. ... With the deployment of Northern Fleet personnel, electronic warfare capabilities and radar defense systems, these outposts are intended to tighten Russia's grip on the Northern Sea Route.

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