In the past 150 years, the scientific image of the Arctic climate has shifted dramatically. From an initial interest in what caused the coming and going of ice ages in Earth's history, the Arctic is increasingly depicted as a bellwether for global warming. The change is linked not only to the internal development of science but also to the international dynamics that have affected both knowledge production and political order. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a historical backdrop for today's discussion of Arctic climate change by outlining the development of climate science since the mid-1800s up until the late 1990s. It is mainly based on a review of published literature and highlights dynamics of when and why the Arctic becomes a region of special interest for climate science and policy. The analytical frame, as developed in Chapter 2 of this dissertation, focuses on the co-production of knowledge and political order with specific attention to structures of international cooperation, actor networks, and the relations between them.
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