Although the Arctic region was ‘inaccessible’ until the end of 20th century because of the layers of thick ice, the ice are melting rapidly in the region because of the global warming, clearing this ice-covered region from ice. The ice of the region is already reduced by as much as 50% from 1950s. The region is warming faster than other areas across the globe. Such rapid melting of ice is making the region a more ‘accessible’ zone. With the rapid melting of ice in the Arctic region, the long-isolated region is becoming a more accessible zone for commercial fishing, fresh water, minerals, coal, iron, copper, oil, gas, and shipping.
The melting of the sea ice has been opening up trade routes (during the summers) between Asia and Europe through the Arctic Ocean; the same region where such trades routes were unimaginable even couple of decades ago. In 2007, the Northwest Passage between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans opened for the first time in memory.
The constant change in the climate and the increasing accessibility to the region would make the extraction of oil and gas from the region much easier. Estimations from different corners reveal that the region is speculated to hold oil reserves of upto 13% of the global total of undiscovered oil, upto 30% of natural gas, and also other precious metals.
Since the region was inaccessible until the end of 20th century, there were less territorial disputes until the beginning of this (21st) century. However, with the rapid melting of Arctic ice and increasing accessibility to the region, the Arctic has become an important place on earth for the surrounding countries – namely Canada, Denmark (via Greenland), Russia, Norway and the US – who are now in rush to exploit the resources and commercial opportunities from the region.