In 2014, I was fortunate enough to make three trips to the Arctic: first to Tromsø, Norway for Arctic Frontiers in January, second to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland in August for fieldwork on the ice sheet, and third to Reykjavik, Iceland for Arctic Circle in October. In all three places, it feels like you’re standing on the edge of the earth as the ice and mountains tumble haphazardly into the sea. I had to remember to take a breath while driving through the winter wonderland of Senja, the largest island off Norway, and while flying in a helicopter over the Greenland Ice Sheet with just a few meters of Arctic air separating us from the waterfalls and rivers cascading below. Here are some photos looking back on those spectacular trips to what travel writer Sarah Wheeler calls “The Magnetic North” – a place that never ceases to attract. Far from white, the Arctic is a kaleidoscope of green and orange and purple and pink and turquoise blue.
A caveat to these photos and trips to the Arctic is a reminder that the region is now more deeply interconnected than ever to the rest of the world. I participated in discussions about the Arctic in places both near and far to the North. In June, I attended the Potsdam Arctic Summer School, held just outside Berlin, Germany, with nearly forty other students from as far away as Iqaluit (Nunavut, Canada) and Mirny City (Sakha Republic, Russia). In May, I learned about topics like dogs in the Arctic and coal mining on Svalbard at the International Congress for Arctic Social Sciences in Prince George. This down-on-its-luck logging town is located in the rainy interior of British Columbia, in Canada’s sub-Arctic, where the phrase “Arctic boom” most certainly does not resonate. Two months prior, in March, I spoke at a workshop in Singapore on Asia and the Arctic for Norwegian diplomats serving in Asia. Sitting in an air-conditioned room in a luxury hotel just one degree north of the equator, we could hardly have been farther from the poles, both in distance and in experience. The discussions that transpired brought home how deeply interconnected the Arctic has become to the rest of the world. Yet they also made clear that there must be some way of better connecting the polar interests and, importantly, access to funding that many of these wealthy nations possess to communities in the Arctic and sub-Arctic.
As I look back on 2014, next year, I’m looking forward to traveling to the Arctic and beyond again, seeing friendly faces and familiar landscapes and hopefully new ones as well. Thanks, everyone, for an amazing year.