How Can Space Chart the Future of a Warming Arctic Circle?

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., October 21, 2019 – The portion of the Earth above the Arctic circle is experiencing the effects of a warming climate even faster than the rest of the planet, and the summer Arctic Ocean could be ice free as early as 2030.

This rapid change will spur increased demand for space-based capabilities like fast and ubiquitous communications among residents of the Arctic, as well as improved means to accurately navigate the altered region and observe the Arctic’s changing conditions. A new report by The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy (CSPS), Closing the Arctic Infrastructure Gap: Existing and Emerging Space-Based Solutions, examines the space-based communication, navigation and surveillance infrastructures that could serve as solutions for these emerging commercial, civil and military needs in the Arctic.

“This is a pivotal time to respond to national and environmental security threats in the Arctic region,” said Karen Jones, co-author of the CSPS report. “Integrating ground and space-based assets and their data can increase regional connectivity and ensure accurate positioning and remote sensing capabilities, allowing the U.S. and other Arctic nations to build much-needed real-time situational awareness in the region.”

Existing and future space systems will help to close the Arctic digital divide and enable multiple applications in the dynamic Arctic environment, including tracking and shipping goods, natural resource management, economic development activities, search and rescue operations, environmental monitoring, and telemedicine.

“As the Arctic warms, the region’s infrastructure gap is becoming a barrier to meeting economic, environmental, and national security needs,” said Jamie Morin, director of CSPS. “With some optimization of existing space-based infrastructure, as well as potential new satellites in low earth, geosynchronous, and highly elliptical orbits, the U.S. and other Arctic nations have an opportunity to address these gaps — building situational awareness and enhancing operations that can help strengthen a rule-based order in the far North.”

To learn more, download the CSPS report here.

About the Center for Space Policy and Strategy

The Center for Space Policy and Strategy is dedicated to shaping the future by providing nonpartisan research and strategic analysis to decisionmakers. The Center is part of The Aerospace Corporation, a nonprofit organization that advises the government on complex space enterprise and systems engineering problems.

About The Aerospace Corporation

The Aerospace Corporation is a national nonprofit corporation that operates a federally funded research and development center and has approximately 4,000 employees. With major locations in El Segundo, Calif., Albuquerque, N.M., Colorado Springs, Colo., and the Washington, D.C., region, Aerospace addresses complex problems across the space enterprise and other areas of national significance through agility, innovation, and objective technical leadership.  For more information, visit www.aerospace.org. Follow us on Twitter: @AerospaceCorp.

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