TROMSO, Norway, June 4 (UPI) -- Dealing with increased energy interest and environmental issues in the arctic will be difficult without the United States, a scholar said.
Global climate change is melting arctic sea ice, exposing vast unexplored areas that could hold oil and natural gas reserves. Shipping traffic is expected to increase as new routes develop across the north.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said the trends are making northern countries more dominant in the international arena.
"There are changes going on which are leading to the emergence of a region which used to be frozen both politically and climatically and now there is a thaw," he was quoted by Voice of America as saying.
Norwegian climatologists estimate that more than 17,000 square miles of arctic sea ice has melted every year during the last 20 years.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Norway, said Washington was considering signing on to the Treaty of the Sea, an agreement governing territorial waters.
Gunhild Hoogensen Gjorv, a political science professor at Norway's University of Tromso, told VOA the treaty was moot without U.S. support.