Global warming is slowly thawing the Arctic, spurring talk of a gold rush for natural resources, shipping routes and other business opportunities in the Far North.

Credible surveys estimate that oil, gas and precious minerals worth hundreds of billions of dollars lie untouched beneath the ice.

But industry experts and Arctic veterans say there are major obstacles to reaping those riches, not least due to the effects of climate change itself.

Following a month-long, 10,000-kilometer (6,200-mile) journey aboard the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica last month, The Associated Press examines the prospects for an Arctic 'gold rush' and the reasons why it might not happen soon.

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