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Executive Summary for December 9th

We review and analyze the latest news and most important developments in the Arctic, including the links between food insecurity and mental distress among Canada’s Inuit and Russia’s new Arctic military bases. Our goal is to keep you informed of the most significant recent events.

Published on Dec. 9, 2015 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Report: Mental Distress Among Inuit

Food insecurity, poor access to healthcare and inadequate housing are among the factors that contribute to mental distress among Canada’s Inuit, according to a new study released by Statistics Canada, a federal government agency, reports CBC News.

The report sampled 2,571 Inuit living in Inuit Nunangat – an area that includes Nunavut and the northern regions of the Northwest Territories, Quebec and Labrador.

According to the report, the average mental distress score was higher for Inuit women than it was for men, and suicidal thoughts were more likely among those who had higher levels of mental distress.

Suicide rates among the Inuit are 11 times higher than the Canadian rate, according to Health Canada. The vast majority, 83 percent, of Inuit who die by suicide are under 30 years old. Many communities are working with Inuit organizations, governments and NGOs to find ways to boost resiliency and raise awareness.

Russia to Deploy Soldiers to Arctic Military Bases

Russia has been building up its military footprint in the Arctic. In October, it completed the construction of a new military base on an island in the High North. Now it is preparing to deploy “hundreds of servicemen at six military bases in the Arctic,” according to a story in Newsweek. Furthermore, RT reported that Russia had deployed surface-to-air missile systems to its bases.

Earlier this year, the BBC reported that Russia had plans to build four new military bases in the Arctic, as well as modernizing six Arctic airfields. The bases are located in the New Siberian Islands archipelago and the Franz Josef Land archipelago, as well as Wrangel Island and Mys Shmidta, also known as Cape Schmidt, in the Chukotka Peninsula. Russia’s Rogachevo airfield is also in the Arctic.

Russia’s increased military focus in the region has captured the attention of its neighbors. Bloomberg reported earlier this month that Finland, which is home to the European Union’s longest border with Russia, had boosted its defense budget, even though its economy is struggling

Greenland’s Melting has Sped Up

A new study that looked at 10,000 years of glacial history in Greenland has found that the glaciers have, over the past century, been melting twice as fast than ever before, according to a story at TakePart.com. The study’s authors say that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels are behind the faster melt.

Glaciers all over the Arctic are melting at rates that cannot be explained by natural, long-term changes in the glacier cycle. Greenland’s large Zachariae Isstrom glacier is undergoing rapid change as the planet warms. NASA images show that the glacier became unstable in late 2012, and its retreat has accelerated. If it were to melt completely, it would raise sea levels by more than 45 centimeters (18 inches).

Recommended Reads

Top image: Canadian Inuit dogs pull a sled using traditional harnesses. A new report has highlighted some of key social determinants of health that can lead to higher mental distress among Canadian Inuit. (AP Photo/Rob Gillies)

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