Andrew Sullivan has posted a video from The Economist which offers an excellent animated explanation of the current Arctic resources rush. Six nations bordering the melting Arctic Circle are vying for territory on the seabed and to control potential shipping lanes as more of the waters prove navigable.
Among other things, there's oil and gas up there under the ice and sea. Russia, Norway, Denmark (via Greenland), Iceland, the U.S. and Canada are all players. They have until May 13, 2009 to stake their claim on unclaimed portions of the seabed to the United Nations. This is the best overview of the competing claims I've seen.