Greenland and the European Arctic map and climate change

Cover of Arctic Map - British Antarctic SurveyWe are all well aware that the polar icecaps are melting, and the landscape of the Arctic is being changed forever. So it was an honour to work with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to produce the Greenland and the European Arctic map as a record of the present environment.

This is the first map of the Arctic region we have produced for the BAS, and the first time the region, including Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard, has been mapped in this way. We used our Koenig & Bauer Rapida 162a large format litho printing press, which uses six colours, to show the fine detail and geographical features of the area.

The lavishly illustrated reverse side of the Arctic map contains many colour images and text boxes explaining the climate change challenges faced by the region and the work being done to preserve this unique part of the world.

How important is the Arctic map?

The Arctic plays a vital part in the climate system of the Earth, helping to regulate global temperatures. But the effects of climate change are being experienced more rapidly and severely here than anywhere else. For the last 50 years it has been warming up more than twice as quickly as the rest of the world.

Sea ice has decreased by about a third over the last 30 years, and most sea ice is now less than one year old. In 20 years the Arctic Ocean could be almost free of sea ice during the summer. It’s essential we understand these changes, both for the benefit of the region, and for the consequences throughout the world.

Animals in peril

Arctic Map - Polar Bears and climate changeThe Arctic is home to animals such as the polar bear, the narwhal and walrus. The number of polar bears in the region is estimated to be between 22,000 and 31,000. Due to the loss of their habitat the population is predicted to decrease by 30% over the next 30 years. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been working with governments and Inuit people to collect data on the polar bear population in an effort to conserve the species.

Indigenous People threatened by climate change

About four million people live in the Arctic, of whom 10% are Indigenous People, who over thousands of years have developed highly skilled and successful ways of hunting, fishing and foraging. The results of climate change such as melting ice and rising sea levels are threatening coastal settlements with flooding, while industrial expansion and pollution are damaging traditional cultures.

Arctic Map - Somerset Island

Plastic pollution

Research has shown that as a result of ocean currents bringing in plastic, the Arctic may have as much plastic pollution as seas closer to the more densely populated parts of the globe. More than 90% of fulmars, one of the main species of seabirds in the region, have been found to have large pieces of plastic in their gut. Microplastics can easily enter the food chain, and are particularly damaging to Indigenous People whose way of life relies heavily on hunting and fishing.

Visitor Guidelines

As well as fishing, reindeer husbandry and the extraction of valuable resources like oil, minerals and gemstones, up to one million visitors a year come to the Arctic. In order to encourage respectful, environmentally-friendly and safe tourism the Arctic map provides helpful advice on behaving responsibly towards its people, wildlife and the environment.

Greenland and the European Arctic Map – ‘Professional, precise printing’

Laura Gerrish, mapping specialist at the BAS, praised the ‘professional, precise printing’ of the map. ‘We are extremely happy with the final product,’ she said, ‘and the map is now being used by scientists, tourists and those with a general interest in the Arctic.

‘Our next two printing jobs are already lined up with Dennis Maps and we will continue to work with them to produce our high-quality products.’

We are delighted to announce that this map received a ‘Highly Commended Award’ at the recent British Cartographic Society Conference held at Ordnance Survey HQ.

Front Cover image by Hannah Gerrish.

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