Economic value of ecosystem services, minerals and oil in a melting Arctic: A preliminary assessment

Last modified: 
December 13, 2019 - 9:40pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 04/2017
Authors: Tanya O'Garra
Journal title: Ecosystem Services
Volume: 24
Pages: 180 - 186
ISSN: 22120416

The Arctic region is composed of unique marine and terrestrial ecosystems that provide a range of services to local and global populations. However, Arctic sea-ice is melting at an unprecedented rate, threatening many of these ecosystems and the services they provide. This short communication provides a preliminary assessment of the quantity, distribution and economic value of key ecosystem services as well as geological resources such as oil and minerals provided by Arctic ecosystems to beneficiaries in the Arctic region and globally. Using biophysical and economic data from existing studies, preliminary estimates indicate that the Arctic currently provides about $281 billion per year (in 2016 US$) in terms of food, mineral extraction, oil production, tourism, hunting, existence values and climate regulation. However, given predictions of ice-free summers by 2037, many of the ecosystem services may be lost. We hope that this communication stimulates discussion among policy-makers regarding the value of ecosystem services and such geological resources as minerals and oil provided by the Arctic region, and the potential ecosystem losses resulting from Arctic melt, so as to motivate decisions vis a vis climate change mitigation before Arctic ice disappears completely.

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