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 August 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Alaska Marine Lines Reduces Fuel Surcharge

Alaska Marine Lines, a marine transportation company providing barge service to and from Alaska and Hawaii, informs it has filed with the U.S. Surface Transportation

SSI to Showcase Marine Information Model

SSI's CAD/CAM ShipConstructor software utilizes a Marine Information Model (MIM) to store a wealth of data that can be leveraged for maintenance, repair and lifecycle support.

Bollinger VP Fanguy Snags SNAME Award

Louisiana-based shipbuilder Bollinger Shipyards, LLC announced its vice president for quality management system, Dennis Fanguy, will receive the 2015 William M.

Technology

SSI to Showcase Marine Information Model

SSI's CAD/CAM ShipConstructor software utilizes a Marine Information Model (MIM) to store a wealth of data that can be leveraged for maintenance, repair and lifecycle support.

ZF Turns 100

ZF Friedrichshafen AG is celebrating its centennial in 2015. Founded in the city of Friedrichshafen at Lake Constance in 1915 as “Zahnradfabrik GmbH,” the company

The Hour of Power

Hybrid Marine Technology and Green Ports In 2015 two significant developments are going to make many operators, owners and builders of professional vessels consider hybrid marine power.

Navy

HMAS Canberra Initial Operational Capability

The Royal Australian Navy’s Amphibious Ship, HMAS Canberra, has completed a graduated operational test and trials program to achieve a key milestone towards Initial Operating Capability.

Australian Defence Unveils Indigenous Artwork

Defence today unveiled an Indigenous painting at its Science and Technology headquarters in Canberra as a mark of respect for cultural diversity within the organisation.

Britain Pumps GBP500mln into Scottish Naval Base

The Royal Navy’s submarine base at Faslane – home to Britain’s nuclear deterrent – is to receive a more than 500 million pounds investment grant from the Government, reports Reuters.

Environmental

The Hour of Power

Hybrid Marine Technology and Green Ports In 2015 two significant developments are going to make many operators, owners and builders of professional vessels consider hybrid marine power.

Hurricane Fred Strengthens in Eastern Atlantic

Hurricane Fred strengthened early Monday in the eastern Atlantic as it approached the Cape Verde Islands, while the remnants of Tropical Storm Erika brought flooding to parts of South Carolina,

TOTE’s 2nd LNG Containership Launched

Shipping company TOTE and shipbuilder NASSCO on Saturday launched Perla del Caribe, the second of two Marlin Class ships – the first containerships in the world to be powered by natural gas.

Arctic Operations

Obama Defends Arctic Oil Drilling

United States' President Barack Obama defends his decision to allow Royal Dutch Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean.   He insisted that there was no contradiction

World’s Quickest Trip Through Northern Sea Route

Chinese sailor Guo Chuan intends to make it world’s quickest Northern Sea Route trip from Murmansk to the Bering Strait in 14 days without engine power. His

Wärtsilä Scrubbers for Finnlines Vessels

Finnlines, a Ro-Ro and passenger vessel operator with services in the North and Baltic Seas, has contracted Wärtsilä to supply three vessels with exhaust cleaning scrubber systems.

 
 
Maritime Contracts Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | 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: 0.8205 sec (1 req/sec)