Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shipping Could be Using Arctic Route Regularly in Ten Years

Polar expedition concludes ice-free summers possible in a decade
Shipping News Feature

ARCTIC – Following on from our previous stories concerning Beluga Shipping’s navigation of the North-East passage comes news that a recently conducted polar expedition to study ice conditions has concluded that the Arctic could be easily navigable for summer shipping in ten years and completely open in twenty.

In a speech delivered yesterday Professor Peter Wadhams of the Catlin Arctic Survey said that: “The Catlin Arctic Survey data supports the new consensus view - based on seasonal variation of ice extent and thickness, changes in temperatures, winds and especially ice composition - that the Arctic will be ice-free in summer within about 20 years, and that much of the decrease will be happening within 10 years.

“That means you'll be able to treat the Arctic as if it were essentially an open sea in the summer and have transport across the Arctic Ocean.”

The expedition found that the average thickness of the ice floes measured by the team was 1.8m, a depth considered too thin to survive the next summer.

While the news will no doubt inspire a flurry of concern over global warming and climate change, which are without doubt subjects that need to be taken seriously, on a purely practical note the apparently inevitable melting of the polar icecaps will considerably shorten a number of global trade routes, aiding in reducing shipping cost, prices and (ironically) emissions.

(pic: Courtesy of Beluga Shipping)