Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

David Kerstetter, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Bernard Riegl, Ph.D.


“Arctic Thaw: Environmental Exploitation for Economic Profit,” is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary assessment of Arctic climate change (CC) impacts. Arctic CC alters the regions’ temperature, annual ice cover, and sea levels. This alteration influences the global economy through enriched international trade and fossil hydrocarbon extraction developments. This capstone examines the Arctic’s response to CC through economic statistical analysis, tracking relative sea-level (RSL) trends, as well as performing hydrographic and modeling reviews. The Northern Rim Countries (NRCs) economic analysis assesses potential CC and GSLR impacts by applying statistical techniques to calculate its effect on each country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The tidal data analysis includes both Arctic and Pacific NW tidal stations mean sea level trends, which projects GSLR for each station. Arctic sea ice melt also increases shipping opportunities, which consequently amplifies marine casualty statistics. Maritime casualties raise pollution threats to the Arctic’s indigenous communities and its endangered species. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) conducted the Port Access Route Study (PARS) to mitigate casualty risk by identifying vessel traffic routes. This study examines the PARS hydrographic data, as well as the courses implemented to safeguard the environment. This review also interprets model analysis and biota case studies in forecasting the adverse GSLR social and economic impacts (Douglas, 2010). Lastly, this capstone explores existing mitigation strategies and policies in determining its adequacy in addressing the Arctic’s vulnerabilities. The policy review includes NRCs mitigation efforts, the Polar Code, and other Arctic ecosystem legislation implemented to counterbalance the developing economic exploits.