World Bulletin / News Desk
Container ships using the Northern Sea Route across the top of the world can cut the length of voyages by 40% compared with travelling via the Suez Canal, the Arctic Council says.
However, while in summer the Northern Sea Route is more accessible, in winter it is treacherous and can only be kept open with the assistance of specialist icebreaker ships.
That is, until the Teekay’s Eduard Toll vessel set out from South Korea in December heading for the Sabetta liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in northern Russia.
The journey was captured by the ship’s crew in the timelapse video below, and represents a major step forward in international shipping.
Unfortunately, the increasing ease with which ships can cross the Northern Sea Route during winter points directly toward the alarming effects of climate change.
The volume of Arctic sea ice hit record lows in January, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC), which tracks sea ice extent around the world.
The monthly average Arctic sea ice extent of around 13 million square kilometres was recorded some 1.36 million square kilometres below the 1981 to 2010 average, and 110,000 square kilometres below the previous record low set in 2017.
What’s more, the Arctic Council, a scientific policy group of the eight countries with territory in the Arctic Circle, says that over the past 30 years, the minimum coverage of summer ice has fallen by half while its volume has fallen by three-quarters.
While thinning ice volumes does present opportunities for increasing trade, perhaps the drawbacks outweigh the benefits.
Source: World Economic Forum