The Arctic region is a frontier environment for human activities, driven by global economic demand for resources and made possible in part by global warming. Pressure is growing on the Arctic as an arena for a multiple of activities, including oil and gas (with 13 % of undiscovered oil and 30 % of natural gas estimated to lie north of the Arctic Circle). There is already a considerable amount of maritime shipping in the Arctic, such as cruise ships and research ships, and the Northern Sea route and North West passage are already starting to open up to commercial shipping. Increased marine fishing in Arctic waters is also becoming a reality, requiring surveillance of fishing vessels, as are new possibilities for mining and tourism.
However, the Arctic has many severe challenges to any form of economic and human activity, including dangerous operating conditions, an extremely sensitive environment, and remoteness. Constant ice cover, drifting icebergs, frequently low visibility, low temperatures and winter darkness as well as frequent polar lows severely impact human activities and man-made structures. The integrated use of Satellite Communcations, Satellite Navigation and Earth Observation has a vital role to play in supporting human and economic activities under these extreme environmental conditions.