"Yes, the Arctic is opening up in a sense," says Walt Meier, Senior Research Scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, who was not involved in the study. "That opens up a lot of possibilities for exploitation of the Arctic, whether that’s shipping or resource extraction. But in some respects it makes thing more uncertain, because the ice is much more mobile. Even though there’s a lot more open water at certain times of year, you still have to be careful of the local and regional conditions. Even though overall it's low, it may be high in certain areas. In some ways the decreasing ice cover is making things more dangerous."