Is the Arctic a vast, beautiful, wild, and unsullied natural refuge, or is it small, fragile, and vulnerable, suffering the brunt of global warming? In the late nineteenth century, as U.S. admiral Robert E. Peary and his competitors engaged in their mad scramble to be the first humans to set foot on the North Pole, “fragile” was unlikely to be an adjective that sprang to mind when they described their surroundings. Quite the opposite, exploring the Arctic exposed the fragility of man. But the Arctic Ocean and mankind's relationships to it are changing fast.