Climate change is melting away the main barrier to business in the Arctic—ice—but the US lags behind other countries seeking to exploit the region, the Anchorage Daily News reports. As receding ice opens the area to shipping, resource exploitation, and tourism, it's Russia and Canada who have established transport rules and studied the ocean floor. "It's like the new Strait of Gibraltar," says a Coast Guard captain of the Bering Strait.
"As the ice retreats, the people advance," says Capt. Michael Terminel, whose company builds Arctic ships. "We just don't know what's there." Which may be the rub: While one German company recently cut 3,300 nautical miles off a voyage by traveling through the Arctic, and avoiding the Suez Canal, unpredictable weather and remaining ice could ultimately scare off shipping companies. (Read more climate change stories.)