Tribes seek to secure their water rights as #ColoradoRiver dries — The #Nevada Current #crwua2021 #COriver #aridification

From the 2018 Tribal Water Study, this graphic shows the location of the 29 federally-recognized tribes in the Colorado River Basin. Map credit: USBR

Historically excluded from Colorado River negotiations, tribes are demanding to be included in policy discussions on how the water is managed.

Ahead of a conference of the Colorado River Water Users Association in Las Vegas, a group of conservationists and tribal leaders held a press conference on the overuse of water within the Colorado River Basin Monday.

“There’s a wide range of people who are a part of this but what weight does each individual state have when they come to the table? What weight does each tribe have?” said Timothy Williams, Chairman of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe. “I don’t see any tribe at that signing table, yet our water is being used.”

The Fort Mojave Tribe, whose reservation lies partially within Nevada, is one of 10 federally recognized tribes with reserved water rights in the Colorado River Basin. 

Yet, the tribe has been left out of the policymaking process for the river despite having a senior priority date that supersedes even that of the Southern Nevada Water Authority in Clark County, meaning they take precedence over most other water users whose rights have later dates.

In 1922, seven states in the Colorado River Basin — Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada — signed the Colorado River Compact, an agreement on how to divide the river water equitably among states.

However, tribal members, who weren’t considered U.S. citizens at the time, were excluded from negotiations. Tribal nations were again excluded from policymaking in 2007 when states renegotiated water divisions due to increasing drought conditions.

That agreement is set to expire in 2026, meaning states will need to agree on a new set of Colorado River rules. Tribes are now pushing to be included in those negotiations for the first time.

“Being left out of those groups and trying to squeeze in at different times has been something,” Williams said, during the conference. “The table keeps moving and moving and moving.” 

Williams said tribes have now built the capacity to demand a spot at the negotiating table. Part of that capacity is the work of the Colorado River Basin Tribes Partnership, also known as the Ten Tribes Partnership, created in 1992 by federally recognized tribes to strengthen tribal influence in water policy.

“Hopfully when the 2026 guidelines come out you’ll see tribes,” Williams said. 

Basin tribes hold water rights to about 3 million acre-feet of Colorado River water, which equates to about 25% of the river’s current average annual flow. That percentage will only increase as climate change continues to reduce the amount of water available to states with newer water rights. That water allocation makes Basin tribes a powerful force in negotiations, said Williams.

The Fort Mojave Tribe alone has the right to divert more than 136,000 acre feet, including 3,787 acres in Nevada.

However protecting the tribes’ water is about more than the raw acre feet they are entitled to, said Williams. It’s also about protecting the health of the land, including Avi Kwa Ame, or Spirit Mountain, a culturally significant area that’s part of the various tribes’ spiritual ideology and is featured in Mojave creation beliefs.

“We have to answer to our membership, we have to answer to our elders, we have to answer to our environment and ask if we are truly protecting it the best way we can,” Williams said. 

Forrest Cuch, a Ute Indian Tribe Elder and former director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs, said the Uinta River in Utah, once a major waterway to the Colorado River, has been reduced to a trickle over the years as a result of overuse. 

“In the Uinta Basin we have farmers plowing up lands that are not fit for production,” Cuch said. “They think it’s okay to make the desert bloom like a rose. That doesn’t sit well with Native people. We say the desert blooms on its own and if it were meant to be a lush green meadow it would be such and the desert is not such. ”

“Exploitation, extraction and development at all costs” has damaged the Colorado River, said Cuch, calling for a shift in culture that would protect the river.

“This knowledge comes from our strong spiritual connection to the land which is nurtured by our ceremonies that keep us earthbound and earth connected,” Cuch said. “In truth we have always been earth people that seem to find it necessary to stop the destruction of mother earth.” 

The call for inclusion from Colorado River Basin tribes on water policy comes after 20 tribes, including the Moapa Band of Paiutes in Southern Nevada, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland last month asking the government to fulfill its “federal trust responsibility” and include tribes in river negotiations.

“Basin Tribes’ involvement in these ongoing decisions… is a necessity with regard to, and in recognition of, the impacts to Basin Tribes of the continuing drought and looming basin-wide shortages,” reads the letter.

Tribes argue they must be included in upcoming Colorado River policymaking negotiations to correct historical injustices. 

In the letter to Haaland, tribes say federal and state governments must recognize and include support for tribal access to clean water, tribal water rights settlements, tribal sovereignty, and provide tools that will help Basin Tribes to fully utilize their water rights. 

The Biden administration has pledged to work more closely with tribes during the upcoming negotiations, which are likely to happen over the next two years. During a trip to Nevada on Sunday Haaland said the federal government understands the importance of involving tribes in negotiations and discussions around water infrastructure and policymaking. 

“We have had many, many tribal consultations on this issue and many others,” Haaland said. “President Biden has made tribal consultation a priority in his administration. We are approaching these issues with an ‘all of government’ approach.”

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

#AZ, #CA, and #NV to sign voluntary cutbacks of #ColoradoRiver #water — The Associated Press #crwua2021 #COriver #aridification

Glen Canyon Dam as seen from an overlook on the south side, downstream of the dam in Page, Arizona. (Public domain.)

From The Associated Press (Brittany Peterson):

To help stave off another round of mandatory cutbacks, water leaders for Arizona, Nevada and California are preparing to sign an agreement that would voluntarily reduce Colorado River water to the lower basin states by 500,000 acre-feet — enough to supply about 750,000 households for a year — for both 2022 and 2023.

The agreement, known as the “500+ Plan”, would require millions of dollars from each state over two years — $60 million from Arizona, $20 million from Nevada and $20 million from California with federal matching dollars — to fund payments for water use reduction and efficiency projects that result in supply savings throughout the lower basin.

The signing is expected to take place Wednesday at the Colorado River Water Users Association annual meeting in Las Vegas, amid urgency to negotiate new rules for managing the depleted river beyond 2026 when the 2007 interim guidelines expire.

@CWCB_DNR: Commissioner Mitchell Reaffirms Commitment to Tribes for #ColoradoRiver Matters #COriver

North American Indian regional losses 1850 thru 1890.

Here’s the release from the Colorado Water Conservation Board:

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

The 2021 Colorado River Water Users Association (CRWUA) Annual Conference kicked off on December 14 in Las Vegas, Nevada, gathering water leaders and stakeholders from across the Colorado River Basin. During the Upper Colorado River Commission meeting, Colorado Commissioner Rebecca Mitchell reaffirmed the state’s commitment to create a framework for meaningful and effective engagement with the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes throughout the negotiation process for post-2026 reservoir operations of Lake Powell and Lake Mead (see Interim Guidelines background). Commissioner Mitchell announced that she will begin implementing the framework in Spring 2022.

Statement from Commissioner Mitchell on Tribal Engagement:

“In recognition of their status as fellow sovereigns, I believe that a critical element as we move into negotiations for post-2026 reservoir operations interim guidelines is meaningful engagement with the Tribal Nations in the Colorado River Basin, and that creating a framework for this engagement should be the first step as the negotiations begin.”

Commissioner Mitchell Statement on Upper Basin Shortages and the Need for Fair, Sustainable Solutions:

“As our water users in the Upper Basin states have faced shortages every single year for more than 20 years and have used roughly three million acre-feet less than their compact apportionment every year, the Lower Basin states have benefitted from certainty and security in their water deliveries due to large releases from Lake Powell.”

“It is incumbent on all who rely on the Colorado River to take a hard look at potential solutions and consider whether those solutions address the root causes of problems that we face in the Colorado River Basin. Colorado looks forward to working collaboratively with all Basin states, Tribal Nations, water users, and NGOs towards developing and implementing fair, effective, and sustainable future actions to manage the Colorado River in the coming months and years.”

While facing significant shortages, the Upper Basin states are implementing the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan. This has included the release of over 150,000 acre-feet of water from Upper Basin reservoirs in an effort to protect Lake Powell. A Drought Response Operations Plan will be released for public comment in early 2022.

Upper Colorado River Basin states include Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Lower Colorado River Basin states include Arizona, California, and Nevada. Rebecca Mitchell serves as the Governor-appointed Commissioner representing Colorado on all Colorado River matters, as well as the Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Colorado wants to keep investors from flipping water rights. Let the speculation begin

From The Colorado Sun (Thy Vo and Michael Booth):

Legislators want to tackle water speculation after two companies buying up water rights in Grand Valley and the San Luis Valley sparked fears

Want to understand water speculation in Colorado?

Let’s say you’re in line at a pizza shop.

Hear us out.

There’s a big sign at the pizza counter saying, “Limited quantities due to climate change. Buy only what you can eat.”

But the guy in front of you buys five pizzas for $20 each. He starts reselling them by the slice for $5 a piece. The store owner says, “You can’t do that here.”

The pizza glutton walks away, saying, “Fine. I’ll put them in the freezer and I’ll eat it all later.”

Do you believe him?

And if you don’t believe him, what are you going to do about it?

That kind of speculation on water purely for profit is supposed to be illegal already in Colorado. But under current law, there’s no way of telling what’s in the water buyer’s heart. The buyer can say they’ll keep using the water for farming or for city drinking water or for a gold medal fly fishing stream.

The 2022 legislative session is shaping up to be a big battleground for this key question about the future of water rights in Colorado. Climate change is cutting into the amount of water available in Colorado’s rivers. Front Range and resort communities continue their rapid, thirsty growth. And state officials may need to lock down reserve supplies across the region in case a seven-state compact demands we deliver big water downstream in the western lifeline that is the Colorado River. Who gets to broker the inevitable water sales is a moral, legal and economic question for our time…

Water users and lawmakers say they’re especially worried about a new, potential threat: investors and out-of-state private equity buying up water rights to wait for an opportune time to sell, potentially taking away water from other users like farmers and ranchers and driving up values.

“Every water right on the Western Slope, particularly those closer to the border, will have an increased value,” said state Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Vail Democrat. “And if those are being held by those in New York or Dallas investment firms, that’s a very different scenario.”

Donovan, state Sen. Don Coram, a Montrose Republican, and Democratic state Rep. Karen McCormick, a Longmont Democrat, have drafted legislation that would attempt to prohibit speculation for pure financial gain. But almost nobody, including the sponsors, is wholeheartedly behind the bill as written…

The Government Highline Canal, near Grand Junction, delivers water from the Colorado River, and is managed by the Grand Valley Water Users Association. Prompted by concerns about outside investors speculating on Grand Valley water, the state convened a work group to study the issue.

Still, many have concerns that, even if proponents can find a way to effectively ban profiteering, the proposal could jeopardize ordinary transactions between farmers and other water rights holders that are currently legal.

“They may be casting the net to bring in tuna, but a law like this could bring in a lot of dolphins as well,” said Joe Bernal, a fourth-generation farmer in Grand Valley and president of the board for the Grand Valley Water Users Association. “We have an anti-speculation [doctrine] that is sufficient in Colorado.”

Pizza, fish nets … complex water rights battles tend to spawn multiple metaphors in search of simple explanations. Cyran offers another, when critiquing whether a new anti-speculation bill would give too much power and responsibility to the state water engineer in deciding what water buyers’ true designs might be.

New anti-speculation duties could transform the water engineer’s office from a traffic cop into a prosecutor, Cyran said.

“It puts him in a tough place of determining intent,” Cyran said.

A looming threat, or the market at work?

Pressure is building after two decades of Western Slope drought to clarify Colorado water law for inevitable battles. The Colorado River, serving 40 million people in seven Western states and Mexico, is delivering 20% less water downstream than just two decades ago. River volume could drop that much again in the next two decades.

Through the Colorado River Compact, Upper Basin states — Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — must deliver 7.5 million acre-feet of water each year to the more populous Lower Basin states — Arizona, California and Nevada. Most of that comes from melting Colorado snowpack. Climate change and drought have already dropped water levels in Lake Mead to trigger points that mean 500,000 acre-foot cutbacks for Arizona’s water use in 2022.

If Colorado’s compact water deliveries to Lower Basin states fall below the average over a decade, state officials would need to cut use by farmers, cities and others to allow more to flow down the Colorado River and across the Utah border.

The Little Snake River as it passes under Wyoming Highway 70 near Dixon. Photo credit: Wikimedia

Most state leaders don’t want to wait until there’s a “compact call” that would force emergency cuts across the board. They have experimented with demand management, in effect renting farmers’ water for three years out of 10, to find water without drying up agriculture permanently. But large-scale purchases of hundreds of thousands of acre-feet would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Front Range cities shopping for future water supplies are being quoted up to $50,000 an acre-foot, according to water developers.

Denver Basin Aquifer System graphic credit USGS.

Meanwhile, thirsty Front Range cities keep growing, with those like Parker and Castle Rock looking to replace depleted aquifer water with renewable river water.

Expanding demand and shrinking supply is a recipe for worry.

Farmers and ranchers worry investors will buy up their way of life — but they also worry the state could impede their ability to make money by selling their valuable water rights. Cities worry that prices are soaring, and that brokers will lock up dwindling supplies. State and nonprofit officials who support demand management worry that by the time they have to rent water in bulk, they’ll have to negotiate with hedge funds.

Two private water-buying efforts — whose owners are adamant they are not speculators — prompted much of the recent talk about toughening laws against water profiteering.

The Government Highline Canal flows past Highline State Park in the Grand Valley. Water Asset Management, a New York City-based hedge fund, has been buying up parcels of land that are irrigated with water from the canal.

In 2020, as the Colorado River Water Conservation District on the Western Slope was winning a mill levy election to fund local water projects, its leaders and supporters pointed fingers at a private equity firm called Water Asset Management. The New York-based firm, with the help of local advisors, had become the biggest single landowner in the Grand Valley Water Users Association, buying up farms and the accompanying water rights…

James Eklund, former director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board and now an adviser to WAM, says the investors have owned much of the Grand Valley land for five years, and are not flipping the property or water rights to others. The buyers seek profits in improving farm management and upgrading water systems for efficiency, Eklund said.

Bernal also served on a state-appointed working group that included water managers, lawyers and a former state Supreme Court justice and studied the speculation issue for nearly a year before deciding over the summer not to recommend any of the concepts they considered. With a lack of consensus on how to strengthen speculation laws — and a lack of agreement on how exactly to define the problem — Bernal thinks it’s a mistake for lawmakers to pursue legislation to tackle a problem that he says has yet to arrive…

One provision of the draft speculation bill is aimed squarely at recent Grand Valley history: It directs each ditch company to set a percentage cap on how much of their collective water rights any one member can control.

Eklund, whose own family has deep farming roots on the Western Slope, finds the bill’s vague language and layers of restrictions to be anti-capitalist, whether the drafters meant it to be or not…

The northern end of Colorado’s San Luis Valley has a raw, lonely beauty that rivals almost any place in the North American West. Photo/Allen Best

Pumping SLV water to the Front Range stirs more fears

The other project most frequently invoked in warnings is Renewable Water Resources, a private effort by former Gov. Bill Owens and partners to gather San Luis Valley water rights and pipe the water to municipal buyers on the Front Range. The investors say they are spending $68 million just for the water rights, and they will create a $50 million community fund for the valley.

RWR has been talking with Douglas County about becoming the primary buyer of the water, and is now pitching the county to use millions of federal stimulus money to seal the deal. While they are buying up valley water to sell to the Front Range at a profit, project spokesman Sean Duffy said, RWR is most definitely not speculating.

With Front Range communities like Douglas County lining up to buy the water to serve Colorado residents, Duffy said, “this is a very specific project for a very specific need.”

Yet the proposal, which could spend years in water court before any construction begins on the pipeline needed to move the water, has spurred near-universal public opposition in the San Luis Valley, with dozens of towns, water districts and civic leaders blasting any loss of water.

State Sen. Cleave Simpson, an Alamosa Republican who also works as the general manager for the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, said various investors and entrepreneurs have proposed exporting water from the San Luis Valley for decades…

Still, any new legislation to make speculation even less likely than under existing law must protect the interests of farmers and ranchers whose rights to water are the most consistently valuable thing they control, he added…

It’s a delicate conversation for Bernal, who sits on the board of the Grand Valley Water Users Association and like others is now also renting land from Water Asset Management. The association, which hasn’t taken a position on the draft legislation, largely supplies irrigation water to commercial farming operations.

He and other local farmers are always worried about new threats to local water or efforts to develop land currently used for agricultural production, Bernal said…

Would the bill actually block speculation?

Colorado already has [an] anti-speculation [doctrine] that require people to put their water rights to “beneficial use,” such as irrigating a farm, providing tap water for a city, making ski area snow, or providing stream flow for recreation.

Water courts will require those filing for a new use of a water right to show they have a customer for the new beneficial use. Colorado statutes and case law require that, too. But the answer to the question of whether legal brokering also appears to be a “speculative” flip is not clear. How long does a water buyer have to use the right before selling it to another party? What’s the consequence if they later change the use of the water that they expressed when buying the water right?

The draft bill backed by Donovan and Coram aims to target situations where a water right is purchased specifically with the intent to make a profit in a later sale or transaction.

Currently, if a person or company wants to buy a water right, they need to show they “can and will” put the right to beneficial use, said Kevin Rein, state engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources.

But it’s going to be “very difficult” to prove this more nebulous type of financial speculation, Rein said — that at the time of the sale, the buyer intended to use the water right primarily to make a buck. Current water law doesn’t provide a structure to consider those questions, let alone what the answers should be, he said.

The draft bill doesn’t say how investment speculation would be identified. It does require the buyer, if the sale is challenged, to offer up evidence that they aren’t engaging in financial speculation. The legislation would also task Rein’s office, which is responsible for administering water law, with the authority to investigate suspect sales. The agency already looks at transactions to determine whether they violate current anti-speculation laws, but that’s a simpler analysis that’s more administrative than legal.

How the state water engineer would implement the bill could also be resolved through a rulemaking process rather than decided by lawmakers.

Simpson, the senator from Alamosa, also questions whether it’s appropriate for Rein’s office to be given that authority…

Either way, trying to ban investment speculation would be new territory for Colorado water law, said Rein, who also served on the working group that studied the issue over the summer. And he believes Colorado water courts have yet to examine the type of financial speculation the legislation wants to target…

There’s also the question of how the state could actually enforce the law against speculators with deep pockets to fund lawyers and pay penalties, which the draft bill caps at $10,000. Under the proposal, if someone is fined for a speculative transaction, the state engineer could also impose a waiting period of up to two years on the sale or transfer of shares to the buyer.

Supporters of the draft, including Donovan, acknowledge the details of the bill will be complex, and contested.

Donovan said the proposal will need a lot of work to balance personal property rights and preventing profiteering off a dwindling public resource.

2021 Arctic Report Card reveals a (human) story of cascading disruptions, extreme events and global connections — The Conversation #ActOnClimate

Community members from Utqiagvik, Alaska, look to open water from the edge of shorefast sea ice.
Matthew Druckenmiller

Matthew Druckenmiller, University of Colorado Boulder; Rick Thoman, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Twila Moon, University of Colorado Boulder

The Arctic has long been portrayed as a distant end-of-the-Earth place, disconnected from everyday common experience. But as the planet rapidly warms, what happens in this icy region, where temperatures are rising twice as fast as the rest of the globe, increasingly affects lives around the world.

On Dec. 14, 2021, a team of 111 scientists from 12 countries released the 16th annual Arctic Report Card, a yearly update on the state of the Arctic system. We are Arctic scientists and the editors of this peer-reviewed assessment. In the report, we take a diverse look across the region’s interconnected physical, ecological and human components.

Like an annual checkup with a physician, the report assesses the Arctic’s vital signs – including surface air temperatures, sea surface temperatures, sea ice, snow cover, the Greenland ice sheet, greening of the tundra, and photosynthesis rates by ocean algae – while inquiring into other indicators of health and emerging factors that shed light on the trajectory of Arctic changes.

As the report describes, rapid and pronounced human-caused warming continues to drive most of the changes, and ultimately is paving the way for disruptions that affect ecosystems and communities far and wide.

A closer look at the 2021 Arctic Report Card.

Continued loss of ice

Arctic Sea ice – a central vital sign and one of the most iconic indicators of global climate change – is continuing to shrink under warming temperatures.

Including data from 2021, 15 of the lowest summer sea ice extents – the point when the ice is at its minimum reach for the year – have all occurred in the last 15 years, within a record dating back to 1979 when satellites began regularly monitoring the region.

The sea ice is also thinning at an alarming rate as the Arctic’s oldest and thickest multi-year ice disappears. This loss of sea ice diminishes the Arctic’s ability to cool the global climate. It can also alter lower latitude weather systems to an extent that makes previously rare and impactful weather events, like droughts, heat waves and extreme winter storms, more likely.

Similarly, the persistent melting of the Greenland ice sheet and other land-based ice is raising seas worldwide, exacerbating the severity and exposure to coastal flooding, disruptions to drinking and waste water systems, and coastal erosion for more communities around the planet.


A warmer, wetter Arctic

This transition from ice to water and its effects are evident across the Arctic system.

The eight major Arctic rivers are discharging more freshwater into the Arctic Ocean, reflecting an Arctic-wide increase in water coming from land as a result of precipitation, permafrost thaw and ice melt. Remarkably, the summit of the Greenland ice sheet – over 10,000 feet above sea level – experienced its first-ever observed rainfall during summer 2021.

These developments point to a changed and more variable Arctic today. They also give credence to new modeling studies that show the potential for the Arctic to transition from a snow-dominated to rain-dominated system in summer and autumn by the time global temperatures rise to only 1.5 degrees Celisus (2.7 F) above pre-industrial times. The world has already warmed by 1.2 C (2.2 F).

Such a shift to more rain and less snow would further transform landscapes, fueling faster glacier retreat and permafrost loss. The thaw of permafrost not only affects ecosystems but also further adds to climate warming by allowing previously once-frozen plant and animal remains to decompose, releasing additional greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

This year’s report highlights how retreating glaciers and deteriorating permafrost are also posing growing threats to human life through abrupt and localized flooding and landslides. It urges coordinated international efforts to identify these hazards. More rain in the Arctic will further multiply these threats.


Rising human impact

Observed changes and disruptions in the Arctic have bearing on everyday lives and actions worldwide, either directly or as stark reminders of a range of human-caused harm to climate and ecosystems.

An Arctic Report Card essay on beavers expanding northward into Arctic tundra to exploit newly favorable conditions is a case study for how species around the world are on the move as habitats respond to climate shifts, and the need for new forms of collaborative monitoring to assess the scale of the resulting ecological transformations.

An essay on marine garbage from shipping washing ashore on the Bering Sea coast, posing an immediate threat to food security in the region, reminds us that the threat of both micro- and macro-plastics in our oceans is a preeminent challenge of our time.

A report on shipping noise increasingly infiltrating the Arctic’s underwater marine soundscape, to the detriment of marine mammals, is a call to conserve the integrity of natural soundscapes worldwide. For example, a recent unrelated study found that noise caused by human activities and biodiversity loss are deteriorating the spring songbird soundscapes in North America and Europe.

Donna Erickson cuts fish at camp near Unalakleet, Alaska.
Jeff Erickson

Yet, an Arctic Report Card essay from members of the Indigenous Foods Knowledges Network highlights how, despite the continued climate threats to Arctic food systems, Alaska Indigenous communities weathered early pandemic disruptions to food security through their cultural values for sharing and “community-first” approaches.

Their cooperation and ability to adapt offer an important lesson for similarly struggling communities worldwide, while reminding everyone that the Arctic itself is a homeland; a place where large-scale disruptions are not new to its over 1 million Indigenous Peoples, and where solutions have long been found in practices of reciprocity.

An Arctic connected to the rest of the world

The Arctic Report Card compiles observations from across the circumpolar North, analyzing them within a polar projection of our planet. This puts the Arctic at the center, with all meridians extending outward to the rest of the world.

Some of the Arctic events of 2021 discussed in the Arctic Report Card.

In this view, the Arctic is tethered to societies worldwide through a myriad of exchanges – the natural circulation of air, ocean and contaminants, the migration of animals and invasive species, as well as human-driven transport of people, pollution, goods and natural resources. The warming of the Arctic is also allowing for greater marine access as sea ice loss permits ships to move deeper into Arctic waters and for longer periods of time.

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These realities illuminate the importance for increased international cooperation in conservation, hazard mitigation and scientific research.

The Arctic has already undergone unprecedented rapid environmental and social changes. A warmer and more accessible Arctic results in a world only tethered more tightly together.The Conversation

Matthew Druckenmiller, Research Scientist, National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado Boulder; Rick Thoman, Alaska Climate Specialist, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Twila Moon, Deputy Lead Scientist, National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado Boulder

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.