Now hiring: Ambassador to the Arctic

BY Andy Swab  February 14, 2014 at 7:27 PM EDT

photos-2012-09-20-arcticThe State Department plans to appoint an ambassador to the Arctic, according to a letter released Friday from Secretary of State John Kerry.

The new position comes as nations bordering the Arctic Ocean have scrambled to lay their claims to the region’s thawing oil and gas deposits, and potentially lucrative shipping routes. These are waters we’ve braved before at the Rundown; our handy map shows how the shrinking ice could create a massive shortcut.

The United States will hold the rotating Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2015 to 2017. The eight-nation intergovernmental group was created to deliberate on issues of the environment and sustainable development for one of the globes least populated places, as well as to deal with the threats and opportunities presented by climate change.

The letter from Kerry was sent to U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), an advocate of creating an envoy or ambassador post to represent U.S. claims in a territory made up of ice up to 65-feet thick and an ocean that is 5.4 million square miles in area.

“For a long time now, I’ve shared the view that the Arctic region really is the last global frontier,” Kerry wrote in the letter. “The United States needs to elevate our attention and effort to keep up with the opportunities and consequences presented by the Arctic’s rapid transformation.”

The State Department has yet to announce who will be appointed to the new post.