National Geographic September 2019
THE ARCTIC IS HEATING UP
North of the Arctic Circle, our planet is covered by an implacable frozen mass—a sea, as it turns out—that humans have long struggled to explore, understand, and ultimately subdue. From our pursuit of the Arctic’s unique animals to our attempts to sail its icy passages to our obsessive quest to reach its desolate pole, we have found the Arctic irresistible and unyielding. Until now. Scientists say that by the middle of this century, rising temperatures could strip away the Arctic’s fortress-like ice each summer, unlocking resources and shipping lanes while increasing political tensions, affecting people and animals, and potentially speeding up climate change. We sent writers and photographers to document how this enigmatic region is changing, who and what will feel the impact, and why it matters.