Encyclopedia of the World's Biomes - Human Impacts on Arctic Ecosystems

Elsevier, Encyclopedia of the World's Biomes, 2020.
Elias, S.

Although much of the Arctic remains pristine, the developed countries of the world have used the Arctic tundra as a dumping ground, for nuclear testing, and an industrial site. Since the 20th century, Arctic regions have been exploited for mineral and petroleum resources with a mixed level of concern for environment (some in USA and Canada, very little in Russia). The remoteness of the Arctic has made it a target for extensive Russian nuclear testing (Novaya Zemlya), and proposed nuclear engineering (NW Alaska). The warming of the Arctic climate, though not originating from Arctic sources, is melting the sea ice cover, melting the permafrost, and changing tundra ecosystems. Ironically, anthropogenic warming is even now facilitating further human exploitation of the High Arctic for its fossil fuel resources, navigational short-cuts, and previously unobtainable fish stocks. These new incursions into the Arctic may well drive a number of marine mammals and other vertebrate species to extinction, unless strong conservation initiatives are put in place immediately.