Northwest Passage Melting Open

The Northwest Passage Routes

Northwest Passage AnimatedNorthwest Passage Animated

Transiting the Northwest Passage has been a goal of humanity for centuries and with the help Global Warming we unfortunately might get our wish.

Is it time for us mariners to break out our parkas? The AP tells us:

The European Space Agency said nearly 200 satellite photos this month taken together showed an ice-free passage along northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland, and ice retreating to its lowest level since such images were first taken in 1978.

The waters are exposing unexplored resources, and vessels could trim thousands of miles from Europe to Asia by bypassing the Panama Canal. The seasonal ebb and flow of ice levels has already opened up a slim summer window for ships.

Environmentalists fear increased maritime traffic and efforts to tap natural resources in the area could one day lead to oil spills and harm regional wildlife.”Routes between Scandinavia and Japan could be almost halved, and a stable and reliable route would mean a lot to certain regions,” he said by phone. But even if the passage is opening up and polar ice continues to melt, it will take years for such routes to be regular, he said.

“It won’t be ice-free all year around and it won’t be a stable route all year,” Ragner said. “The greatest wish for sea transportation is streamlined and stable routes.”

“Shorter transport routes means less pollution if you can ship products from A to B on the shortest route,” he said, “but the fact that the polar ice is melting away is not good for the world in that we’re losing the Arctic and the animal life there.”

The opening observed this week was not the most direct waterway, ESA said. That would be through northern Canada along the coast of Siberia, which remains partially blocked. Read More…


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