Lawson Brigham

Lawson W. Brigham

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Biography: 
Lawson W. Brigham is Distinguished Professor of Geography & Arctic Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and was chair of the Arctic Council’s Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (2005– 9). Previously, Captain Brigham was a career US Coast Guard officer who commanded four ships, including the polar icebreaker Polar Sea, navigating in 1994 to the extreme ends of the global ocean. He has been a research fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a Coast Guard Academy and Naval Postgraduate School faculty member, and Alaska director of the US Arctic Research Commission. He is a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy and the Naval War College, and holds graduate degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (MS) and the University of Cambridge (MPhil & PhD). His research has focused on the Russian maritime Arctic, Arctic climate change, marine transportation futures, and polar geopolitics.

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Recent Commentary

Retreating Glaciers Open Lucrative Arctic Sea Route For Russian Traders

by Lawson W. Brigham via Newsweek
Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is the Arctic national waterway of the Russian Federation, stretching some 3000 nautical miles and seven time zones across the top of Eurasia.

The Arctic Waterway To Russia’s Economic Future

by Lawson W. Brigham via The Wilson Quarterly
Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The economic stakes are high and there are several challenges and uncertainties around the bend, as Russia tries to make the most of its northern gateway to global markets.

Polar Code heralds a new era of safer navigation in Arctic waters

by Lawson W. Brigham
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A historic milestone was reached on New Year's Day 2017 when the International Maritime Organization's Polar Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters came into force. The "Polar Code," as it is widely known throughout the maritime world, is designed to improve marine safety and enhance protection of Arctic peoples and polar marine environments. It is a groundbreaking marine governance regime for the Arctic and southern oceans. The code establishes a set of mandatory and voluntary international standards for new and existing commercial ships and passenger vessels (all 500 tons or more) operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters.

Arctic as observed by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E

Arctic no rival to Suez, not this century, says shipping expert

by Lawson W. Brigham via KTOO Public Media
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

As the ice retreats, Arctic shipping is expected to increase. But if your idea of “Arctic shipping” is cargo carriers navigating a shortcut between Europe and Asia, you may want to choose a different image.

In the News

Russia, U.S. Need To Cooperate In The Arctic

by Commander David Slayton, Lawson W. Brigham via Investors Business Daily
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Russia is in the news again. NATO ministers continue to discuss how to upgrade their response capabilities to contain Russia, an increasingly unpredictable neighbor. Pentagon officials advise Congress that Russia is a top military threat. Meanwhile, President Putin ramps up his military modernization. Could this finally be the end of strong Russia-U.S. cooperation in the one region where our interests have aligned since the end of the Cold War: the Arctic?

Analysis and Commentary

Russia And US Must Maintain Arctic Relations In An Interconnected World

by Commander David Slayton, Lawson W. Brigham via Alaska Dispatch News
Sunday, May 10, 2015

Russia is in the news, again. NATO ministers continue to discuss how to upgrade their response capabilities to contain Russia, an increasingly unpredictable neighbor, and Pentagon officials advise Congress that Russia is a primary military threat. Could this finally be the end of strong Russia-U.S. cooperation in the one region where our interests have aligned since the end of the Cold War: the Arctic?

Environmental and Economic Security Challenges in a Changing U.S. Maritime Arctic

by Lawson W. Brigham via Analysis
Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Globalization of the Arctic and rapid climate change are presenting a host of challenges for the maritime Arctic of the United States, the key focus for this paper. New Arctic marine operations are evolving at a time when there are no mandatory or binding Arctic-specific International Maritime Organization (IMO) shipping rules and regulations. A new IMO Polar Code to be agreed upon by early 2015 will allow the United States to implement a number of key measures for protection of its Arctic coastal communities...