When Will New Arctic Maritime Crossroad Open?

MarineLink.com
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
US Warship in Ice: Photo credit USN

Rear Adm. Jon White, 
Oceanographer & Navigator of the Navy, Director Task Force Climate Change, was tasked by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert  to provide an unambiguous assessment of how ice coverage will change in the Arctic and how human activity in the Arctic will change in response to decreased ice coverage and other factors. Excerpts from his response to that challenge follow:

"The loss of seasonal sea ice in the Arctic will have ramifications for the U.S. Navy in terms of future missions, force structure, training and investments. To understand this challenge, let me give you a little background. Thirty years ago, 35% of Arctic sea ice was two to four meters thick and did not significantly diminish during the summer melt season.

Today, much of the perennial ice is gone and the Arctic Ocean is covered with younger first-year ice that is thinner and more vulnerable to melt during the Arctic summer. This young ice is also easier to break, making the region even more accessible for ships with ice-strengthened hulls. First-year sea ice begins to melt in the Arctic in late March, with a minimum sea ice extent achieved annually in September. Sea ice then begins to accrue until it reaches a maximum in mid-March and the cycle repeats.

In response to the CNO’s tasking, we assembled an interagency team of Arctic experts from various Navy offices, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , the National Ice Center , the U.S. Coast Guard , and academia. As a final review of the team’s conclusions, a panel of national experts from the Naval Studies Board, a component of the National Research Council of the National Academies, validated the methodology and supported the team’s assessment.

The team reviewed the scientific literature on current Arctic sea-ice projections and agreed to use three scientific approaches described in an article published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. (Overland, J. and M. Wang (2013), “When will the summer Arctic be nearly sea ice free?” (Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, 20972101, doi:10.1002/grl.50316).

To capture the intent of this assessment, we characterized sea ice in terms of its areal coverage and consequent impact on the availability of four sea passages associated with the Arctic. We also use the World Meteorological Organization’s metric “open water,” which is defined as up to 10% of sea ice concentration with no ice of land origin (e.g., icebergs). These waters are navigable by any open ocean vessel capable of operating in northern latitudes without ice breaker escort. Additionally, when considering “shoulder seasons,” period of time prior to and after open water periods, the team adopted sea ice concentration between 10%-40% of sea ice as its benchmark. This 40% figure corresponds with current depictions of the Marginal Ice Zone, available through sources such as the National/Naval Ice Center. Vessels operating during shoulder seasons will require at least minimal ice-hardening and will require icebreaker escort.

Predictions
For the near-term, defined as present to 2020, current trends are expected to continue, with major waterways becoming increasingly open. By 2020, the Bering Strait (BS) is expected to see open water conditions approximately 160 days per year, with another 35 to 45 days of shoulder season. The Northern Sea Route (NSR) will experience around 30 days of open water conditions, also with up to 45 days of shoulder season conditions. Analysis suggests that the reliable navigability of other routes is limited in this timeframe.

The mid-term period, from 2020 to 2030, will see increasing levels of ice melt and increasingly open Arctic waters. By 2025, we predict that the BS will see up to 175 days of open water (with 50-60 days of shoulder season.)  These figures increase to 190 days of open water (and up to 70 days of shoulder season) by 2030. For the NSR, we predict up to 45 days of open water (with 50-60 days of shoulder season) by 2025, increasing to 50-60 days of open water by 2030 (with up to 35 days of shoulder season conditions). This period will begin to see greater accessibility of the Trans-Polar Route (TPR), which is forecast to be open for up to 45 days annually, with 60-70 days of shoulder season. Reliable navigability of the Northwest Passage (NWP) remains limited in this timeframe. The limited depth and narrow passages within the NWP make it an extremely challenging transit route, even during total open water conditions.

In the far-term, beyond 2030, environmental conditions are expected to support even greater and more reliable maritime presence in the region. Major waterways are predicted to be consistently open for longer periods, with a significant increase in traffic over the summer months. The NSR and TPR should be navigable 130 days per year, with open water passage up to 75 days per year. By 2030, the NWP is still expected to be open for only brief periods.

This assessment establishes the timeframe in which the Navy will prepare for expected increased activity in the Arctic region, and informs the update to the Navy’s Arctic Roadmap, a strategic approach to Navy’s future engagement in this growing ocean which supports maritime strategic crossroads."
 
 

Maritime Reporter November 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Madsen to Chair Norway’s Research Council Executive Board

Henrik O. Madsen appointed chairman of the executive board of the Research Council of Norway   DNV GL president and CEO Henrik O. Madsen was appointed as chairman

Port of Houston Expecting Record Year

The Port of Houston Authority is expecting 2014 to close as a banner year for the port, with 34 million tons of cargo handled through November, Executive Director

Hapag-Lloyd Completes CSAV Merger Capital Increase

Hapag-Lloyd completed the planned capital increase of EUR 370 million (approximately $452.5 million) as part of the business combination with the Chilean shipping

Technology

Liquefaction Terminals to Dominate LNG Capital Expenditure

Capital expenditure (Capex) on global LNG facilities is expected to total $259 billion (bn) over the period 2015-2019, with investments expected to be 88% larger

Ennsub Delivers ROV Deployment Systems

Ennsub has completed the design and manufacture of two workclass remotely operated vehicle (WROV) deployment systems for ROVOP, due to be installed into a newbuild

Wärtsilä to Proceed with first LNG Terminal

Wärtsilä has been given full notice to proceed (NTP) from Manga LNG Oy for the supply of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in Tornio, Northern Finland.

Navy

Damen Outfitting First of Nine Bahamas Patrol Boats

The first of nine Damen Stan Patrol 3007s ordered by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force has arrived at Damen Shipyards Gorinchem in the Netherlands for outfitting.

US Navy: Tortuga Allision Costs CO, XO Their Jobs

USS Tortuga's (LSD 46) Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Thomas Goudreau and Executive Officer, Cmdr. John Fleming, were relieved of their duties Dec. 16, due to loss of

Japan Gains Edge in Australia Submarine Deal

Australia and Japan appear to be inching closer to an agreement on the sale the top-secret technology from Japan to build a fleet of new generation submarines.

Environmental

NZ Report: Human Error to Blame for Rena Grounding

New Zealand's Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) published its final report into the grounding of containership Rena in October 2011. The TAIC’s

Costa Rica Approves APM Terminals Project

Port operator APM Terminals, a unit of Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk, said on Friday Costa Rica's environment agency had approved the construction of its Moin Container Terminal project.

NOAA: US to See More Floods from Sea Level Rise

Most of U.S. coast may see 30 or more days a year of floods up to 2 feet above high tides. By 2050, a majority of U.S. coastal areas are likely to be threatened

Arctic Operations

Reports on Rosneft Arctic Projects

On December 18, Member of Rosneft Board of Directors, special representative of President of the Russian Federation on international cooperation in the Arctic

BSEE Attends Arctic Council Meeting

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) David M. Moore recently traveled to Seattle, Wash., for a meeting of the Arctic Council Emergency Prevention,

RV Sikuliaq: Modern Electric Propulsion & Power Management

While ships have used electricity to help power vessels for a long time, new and sophisticated diesel-electric technologies are making serious gains in efficiency,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Navigation Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2622 sec (4 req/sec)