Re-supply and Emergency Response in Arctic Resource Development Applications for Lighter-Than-Air Technologies
By: Barry E. Prentice, Director and A.J. Phillips, Professional Affiliate Transport Institute, University of Manitoba
The extraction of fossil fuels will form the basis of global energy needs for decades, regardless of advances in renewable energy sources. Moreover, petroleum resource development will be pushed further to the margins of human settlement, such as the Arctic. Interests in the extraction process in the north have also been increased by new discoveries of diamonds and precious metals. These activities represent a significant opportunity for areas of the Arctic. However, with these increased economic opportunities come potential environmental risks. The Arctic environment can, at times, appear harsh, but it is also very fragile. It has a slow and limited ability to heal itself from the impacts of civilization’s activities – both intended and unintended.
Global warming may accelerate the economic exploitation opportunities of Arctic resources. Longer periods of ice-free water could provide better sea access, and extend operating seasons. At the same time, melting permafrost and a shorter winter could limit access to inland areas. In particular, the winter road system may become unusable. The combined challenges of increased resource development in the north, and the need to minimize the destructive “footprint” in this sensitive area, must be addressed.