WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Director of U.S. Navy's Task Force Climate Change (TFCC) said today the Arctic Ocean has been experiencing a rapid change in climate, and that it will soon have potential impacts on the Navy.
The Task Force is responsible for developing policy, strategy, force structure and investments relating to climate change and reporting this to Navy leadership.
TFCC Director, and Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy Rear Adm. David Titley, discussed the Navy's future interest in this quickly changing environment and how it will not only affect operations in the north, but how it could affect naval bases worldwide.
"The Navy's objective, first and foremost, is safety, security and stability in the Arctic," said Titley. "Another objective in the Arctic is to strengthen partnerships with the other Arctic nations, and with nations who have interest in that area."
Titley further explained the Navy's maritime strategy which states that climate change is one of the driving forces of the 21st century.
"We are seeing a pretty significant decrease in the amount of ice that is up in the Arctic Ocean," said Titley. "Not too many years ago the ice used to be 10 or more feet thick, making operations in the Arctic almost impossible."
Titley said that, in only a few years, most of the 10-foot thick ice has been replaced with single-year ice that is only two-to-four feet thick. This ice is softer and much of it tends to melt back in the summer time leaving large areas of open water.
"What this is allowing many people to do is to go and think about how surface ships, resources, tourism and fisheries would work in the Arctic," Titley added.
Titley said, over time, the world can expect to see more trans-Arctic shipping using the Arctic as the roof of the world, a shortcut between Asia and Europe.
"Secretly, the arctic is an opportunity," Titley said. "It's an opportunity to form partnerships, and it will create the conditions for greater stability for peace and prosperity for all our nations in the 21st century."
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