Thawing ice due to climate change could gradually make the frozen Arctic easier to transit.
(LEV FEDOSEYEV/TASS via Getty Images)
For decades, the far North has been seen as an area of distant frontiers -- a place of adventure, untapped resources and mythical trade routes. In this, the region is reminiscent of the frontiers pursued in the early eras of exploration. But unlike the fertile Great Plains of North America or the tropical forests of South America, the Arctic's ice-covered, frigid land has minimal agricultural capacity and little to offer in the way of transport links for the small, distant populations around its periphery (and even then, only seasonally).
However, the warming climate and technological advancements are quickly changing what's feasible in the region. And this, combined with expanding economic and strategic interests, is bringing heightened attention back to the North Pole among both Arctic and non-Arctic stakeholders alike. ...