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USGS Arctic Science Strategy

July 17, 2015

The United States is one of eight Arctic nations responsible for the stewardship of a polar region undergoing dramatic environmental, social, and economic changes. Although warming and cooling cycles have occurred over millennia in the Arctic region, the current warming trend is unlike anything recorded previously and is affecting the region faster than any other place on Earth, bringing dramatic reductions in sea ice extent, altered weather, and thawing permafrost. Implications of these changes include rapid coastal erosion threatening villages and critical infrastructure, potentially significant effects on subsistence activities and cultural resources, changes to wildlife habitat, increased greenhouse-gas emissions from thawing permafrost, threat of invasive species, and opening of the Arctic Ocean to oil and gas exploration and increased shipping. The Arctic science portfolio of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and its response to climate-related changes focuses on landscapescale ecosystem and natural resource issues and provides scientific underpinning for understanding the physical processes that shape the Arctic. The science conducted by the USGS informs the Nation's resource management policies and improves the stewardship of the Arctic Region.