Arctic Melt Busies Coast Guard

Shoreline exposed by global warming needs patrolling
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2008 11:51 AM CST
The Empress of the North cruise ship, right, is shown in Lynn Canal, north of Juneau, Alaska, Monday, May 14, 2007, after running aground on a reef in Icy Strait southwest of the Alaskan capital. The...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Global warming affects some unexpected entities, and one is the US Coast Guard, which is dealing with increased maritime traffic above the Arctic Circle. As retreating ice exposes more coastline, officials are evaluating future needs, the Military Times reports. Says the commander of the district that includes Alaska, "Until I go there, feel it, touch it, smell it, I won’t be able to responsibly ask for more resources."

"People hear all this and say, ‘Oh, Brooks, you just want another icebreaker,’" says Arthur Brooks, "but it’s much larger than that." For example, cruise ships headed for the Northwest Passage are currently out of reach of rescue. To understand the challenges emerging from the ice, the Coast Guard is planning numerous exploratory expeditions for this summer.