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Business of the Arctic

The Arctic is one of the planet’s most rapidly changing regions.

The Arctic is on the frontier of global climate change impacts. Despite its remoteness from large population centres and its challenging geographical and climatic conditions, the Arctic is one of the most dynamic and influential regions in the world with commercial activity increasing year on year.

view looking east across Kongsfjorden at Ny Alesund on Svalbard.
The view looking south east across newly forming sea ice in Kongsfjorden in Ny-Ålesund on Svalbard.

The rapid changes in the Arctic have implications for those already working in the Arctic and those looking for opportunities. British Antarctic Survey aims to support sustainable development by providing guidance to policy makers on the effective stewardship of the Arctic environment. This guidance is backed up with high quality, independent science helping to underpin good policy, stable governance and responsible commerce.

Temperatures are rising twice as fast in the Arctic as over the rest of the world. Arctic sea-ice is shrinking rapidly – 2012 was the lowest recorded extent on record. Changes to the Arctic Ocean are now thought to have the potential to affect the European weather and climate. In turn, the region is seeing more commercial activity in the following sectors:


Decreasing sea-ice cover means that sea routes are open more days of the year, allowing shipping companies to navigate the North-West passage between Europe and Asia .

Oil, gas and mineral extraction

The region is thought to be a source of large reserves of oil, gas, metals and rare earths, which are becoming more accessible as technology improves.


The Arctic is home to several of the world’s largest fish stocks that support valuable commercial fisheries. Climate change in this region will impact Arctic fisheries and the livelihood of communities and economic actors dependent on these industries.


The Arctic is an increasingly popular destination for British travellers, but challenges are likely to rise as the opportunities for Arctic tourism continue to increase. Isolation of certain parts of the Arctic combined with the harsh environment and modest capacity of search and rescue infrastructure poses unique challenges to safe tourism.