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

People & Company News

Brent Oil Hits 26-month Low Under US$97

Brent crude oil on Monday slumped to its lowest in over two years, below $97 per barrel as lacklustre economic data from China, the world's top energy consumer,

'Aker Wayfarer' Wins Petrobas Subsea Contract

Aker Solutions' subsidiary Aker Oilfield Services (AKOFS) says it has won a contract worth US$465-million over five years from Petrobras to provide subsea intervention

DP World Chairman Meets Maldivian President

DP World Chairman, and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC), HE Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem has met with the President of the Maldives His

Technology

IGCC System for Tokyo Electric Power

A consortium led by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Ltd. (MHPS) has received an order from Tokyo Electric Power Company, Incorporated (TEPCO) for design work

Newport International Boat Show Award Winners

Newport Exhibition Group, owners and producers of the Newport International Boat Show, announced today the results of this year’s Newport For New ProductsTM (NFNP) Awards.

SMM 2014 Witnesses Record Turnout

SMM was another full success. With more than 2,100 exhibitors from all around the world, including 150 first-timers, with 50,000 industry visitors and roughly 90,

Navy

Centenary of RAN Submarine Loss Commemorated

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) informs it has commemorated the 100th anniversary of the disappearance of its first submarine, 'HMAS AE1', with memorial services

General Dynamics Wins U.S. Navy Nuclear-Submarine Contract

The U.S. Navy has awarded a $234 million contract to General Dynamics Electric Boat to provide planning yard work, engineering and technical support for nuclear submarines.

Two US Navy Jets Crash into The Pacific

The pilot of one of two F/A-18 Hornets that crashed Sept. 12 while operating from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) is in fair condition and receiving medical treatment aboard the ship.

Environmental

PPG Offers SIGMASHIELD 1200 Coating for Shipping

PPG Industries' protective and marine coatings business is fulfilling growing demand for "ice class" marine coatings for hull protection with SIGMASHIELD® 1200 coating.

d'Amico Fleet to Fit InfoSHIP EGO Monitoring

International classification society RINA Services informs it is to fit RINA’s InfoSHIP EGO performance monitoring system to d’Amico Group’s entire fleet. The first

USCG Respond to Grounded Vessel near Pleasant Harbor, Washington

The Coast Guard and Washington State Department of Ecology are responding to a report a of 65-foot pleasure craft aground near Pleasant Harbor in Brinnon, Washington, Sunday morning.

Arctic Operations

PPG Offers SIGMASHIELD 1200 Coating for Shipping

PPG Industries' protective and marine coatings business is fulfilling growing demand for "ice class" marine coatings for hull protection with SIGMASHIELD® 1200 coating.

Vard Orders Rolls-Royce Equipment for Rem OCV/AH

Rolls-Royce has won a £19m contract with the Norwegian shipbuilding group Vard to deliver deck machinery, propulsion and engines to a new offshore construction

First Havyard WE Design Delivered to Fafnir Offshore

Havyard Ship Technology's build 120 'Polarsyssel', a Havyard 832 L WE design, was delivered to Fafnir Offshore yesterday. It will go straight on assignment for

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Pod Propulsion Ship Electronics Ship Repair 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: 0.2096 sec (5 req/sec)