Oil and the Changing Arctic

Oil and the Changing Arctic


The Arctic Ocean sits on the forefront of one of the greatest geographic changes in recorded history. Consider this: Arctic summers could be nearly ice-free as early as 2020 (Wang & Overland, 2009). The changing Arctic will affect many facets of our modern world. The exploration for and extraction of natural resources will likely be one of the first issues addressed.

The goal of Oil and a Changing Arctic is to be more useful than just an almanac of facts and figures. Our aim is to make this module a collaborative resource of best practices and a place for discussion amongst peers. We hope to build a cohort of ISE professionals that feel comfortable connecting their audiences to the Arctic.

Oil is an integral part of day-to-day life, providing standard means of transportation and serving as a building block for a host of consumer goods and products. As the landscape of the Arctic Ocean changes, this polar region becomes the next frontier for oil extraction in the United States. This module will serve as a primer for informal science educators and interpreters to address the topic of increased oil production in the Arctic basin. We'll address the questions: What exactly does it mean to drill for oil in the Arctic? What research has been done in preparation? What about the wildlife and local communities of the region? And finally, how can we interpret Arctic oil?

This module focuses on research, response, and response-preparedness related to the production of oil in the Arctic basin with an emphasis on off-shore operations. Educational resources produced by government agencies, NGOs, institutions and industry will be synthesized into a repository for educators looking to increase their own knowledge and effectiveness in this subject area.


Data from: Wang, M., and J. E. Overland (2009), A sea ice free summer Arctic within 30 years? Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L07502, doi:10.1029/2009GL037820.


PHOTO CREDIT: Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usgeologicalsurvey/4370260875/sizes/l/in/se... A view from above the Arctic Ocean, Aug. 20, 2009.