Sign in with Facebook
  • |
Our Community
Latest Jobs
Latest Videos
Our Blog
Latest Events
  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Admin's Log
    Admin's Log
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Team Blogs
    Team Blogs Find your favorite team blogs here.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Maritime Blogs

Blogs by Maritime Community

Melting Arctic Untying New Shipping Routes

Posted by on in Maritime Blog
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 1537
  • Subscribe to this entry
  • Print

Arctic shipping routes:

Arctic shipping routes are the maritime paths used by vessels to navigate through parts or the entirety of the Arctic.

To connect the Atlantic with the Pacific, theNorthwest Passage goes along the Northern Canadian and Alaskan coasts, theNortheast Passage follows the Russian and Norwegian coasts, and theTranspolar Sea Route crosses the Arctic through theNorth Pole. 

The amount of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean has declined sharply each decade since the 1980s, according to measurements taken each September when the ice is at its minimum. Older, thicker ice is disappearing as well. Scientists say global warming is largely responsible for the changes. Parts of the Arctic are warming twice as fast as elsewhere. 


Effect Of Global Warming

As global warming melts sea ice across the Arctic, shipping routes once thought impossible — including directly over the North Pole — may open up by midcentury. But high costs may keep the new routes from being used right away. 

The changing conditions offer an opening to shipping companies. The Arctic is potentially a faster, more direct route between Asia and ports in Europe and eastern North America. 

 Currently, there is relatively little cargo shipped through the region. Although shipping will increase over the next decade, especially as Russia develops oil and gas fields in Siberia, total Arctic cargo tonnage is expected to remain only a small fraction of the amount carried along southern routes through the Suez and Panama canals. 

But with “middle of the road” warming — higher than the 2015 Paris accord target but lower than the most extreme climate change forecasts — more Arctic shipping routes could open, both for ordinary ships and those that are built to move through the thicker ice. Even direct over-the-pole routes would potentially be navigable, at least during some part of the summer-fall shipping season. 


Ship-Based Research

More recently, there has been an increase in ship-based research in the Northwest Passage and the Beaufort Sea, attributable to concern over the effects of climate change in arctic marine ecosystems, culminating in more research efforts during the International Polar Year. 

From the 1980s on, voyages through the Passage have become an annual event. The number of transits increased from 4 per year in the 1980s to 20-30 per year in 2009-2013. These transits are mostly completed by icebreakers on coast guard and research duties, small vessels or adventurers, passenger ships offering Arctic tourism opportunities, and tug and supply vessels, some with barges. Other types of ships completing the passage include oil/fuel tankers, drill ships, seismic vessels, cable vessels, and buoy tenders. A great portion of the increase in transits since the late 1980s is due to an increase in shipping activities by tug supply vessels--half of them with icebreaking capacity--involved in the oil and gas industry in the Beaufort Sea.

“We know what is likely to happen to sea ice,” said Nathanael Melia, one of the researchers at the University of Reading in Britain who calculated how the routes might change as warming continues to the middle of the century. “It will reduce decade on decade, and open up vast swaths of the Arctic Ocean.”

As Arctic routes become more direct, voyage times could fall to less than three weeks in some cases, making Arctic shipping potentially more attractive than the southern routes in coming decades, Dr. Melia’s research shows.

Other costs including higher insurance rates, as well as safety considerations, may deter other efforts. A report last year by Copenhagen Business School concluded that trans-Arctic shipping by ordinary vessels between Europe and Asia was unlikely to become economically viable before 2040.

Just because shippers could make greater use of Arctic routes does not necessarily mean they will. Ice conditions will still vary greatly from year to year, which would discourage shipping companies for which precise timing of shipments is crucial.


The Environmental Point of View

Well, From an environmental point of view, Arctic shipping poses a threat to the region’s unique ecosystems. This threat can be effectively mitigated through careful planning and effective regulation in areas of high risk.

There are certain areas in the Arctic region that are of heightened ecological significance, many of which will be at risk from current and/or increased shipping. Many of these areas are located in geographically restrictive locations or chokepoints where much shipping activity also occurs, such as the Bering Strait, Hudson Strait, Lancaster Sound, Pechora Sea and the Kara Port.

Migratory marine mammals such as bowhead, beluga, narwhal and walrus have wintering areas in the southern extent of the sea ice and spring migration routes into the Arctic through systems of leads and polynyas also used by many seabirds, ducks and other marine birds during spring migration. These migration corridors correspond broadly to the current main shipping routes and travel through geographic chokepoints. 


The black carbon emitted from shipping in the Arctic could have significant regional impacts by accelerating ice melt.

Ship emissions including greenhouse gasses (GHGs), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulfur Oxides (SOx) and Particulate Matter (PM) may have negative effects on the Arctic environment and will increase in the Arctic region proportionately with increased shipping activity. Effective reduction of ship emissions can be achieved through the application of feasible and best available technologies, through air emissions reduction techniques and, most importantly, through effective implementation of relevant IMO regulations.

It will be decades before big cargo ships link China and northern Europe by taking a shortcut through theArcticOcean, a report predicts.

Climate change, retreating summer ice and the prospect of shorter journey times and 40% lower fuel costs has led Russia, European governments, and some industries to expect a major ice-free shipping lane to open above Russia, allowing regular, year-long trade between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans within a few years.

But, says the Copenhagen Business School in a new paper, low bunker fuel prices, a short sailing season and continuing treacherous ice conditions in the Arctic even in summer months means it could be 2040 at the earliest before it is commercially viable for ordinary merchant ships to pass through what is known as the northern sea route.

Until then it will remain cheaper to send trade between Europe and the east via the Suez canal, it says.  


 Let us know your views regarding Ship emissions and New Arctic Routes


If you have queries regarding the blog, drop the comment in the comments section!!


You can even raise any query in the forum. At the community forum and get replies from the members of Sailors Club.


Sailors-club is a community website which tries to spread awareness in the maritime community and to help seafarers.

If you want us to publish some topic of your interest or if you have any query/ suggestion, do mail to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


you can Whatsapp us at+91 8793174233








  • NY-times
  • The Guardian
  • Wikipedia
  • Blog Image: otkn_515_hapnow_arcticicelow_web_1280
  • Article Images: and end summer melt 1979-2007
<div class="cStream-Attachment-inner-custom"><div><div style="float:left; width: 130px;margin-right: 12px;float: left;color: transparent;"><a href="/…; target="_blank"><img… style="width: 200px;height: auto;" /></div><div style="width: 75%;float: left;"><div style="font-weight: bold;font-size: 18px;margin: 0 auto 2px auto;"><a href="/…; title="…; target="_blank">Madras HC acquits all crew members of US anti-piracy ship Seaman Guard Ohio - Times of India</div><div style="margin: 0 auto 8px auto;">The Madurai bench of the Madras high court on Monday acquitted all 35 crew members and guards of the US anti-piracy ship Seaman Guard Ohio from all charges of the Arms Act.</div></div></div></div>


Latest Blogs

Will IMO sink Paris Climate Agreement?
ACROSS the river from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) headquarters in London protester...
Selections for Diploma in Nautical Science (DNS) leading to a BSc in Applied Nautical Science (ANS) ...
Modus operandi of "ship arrests" in India
 —Capt. Ashwani Jhingan Ship arrest is a "civil law admiralty procedure" which is practically ...
World Maritime Day
The World Maritime Day is being formally celebrated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)...
Ballast Water Management convention - guidance and FAQS
Adopted in 2004 the Ballast Water Management, BWM Convention (the ‘convention’), is the Internationa...
Difference Between Liferaft "SOALS A" and "SOLAS B" Pack
All inflatable life rafts have an emergency pack which according to SOLAS requirement, t...
Golden Bollard 2017


The Global Maritime Community has many type of players and many are members of this Club. You may find them as per your need by using the filter below

Search Member by Rank / Role