Northern Sea Route Partly Blocked Although Sea Ice Near Minimum

Press Release
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Map courtesy of NSIDC

So far this year only the southern passage has opened despite record low levels of Arctic sea ice.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the current extent is 760,000 square kilometers (293,000 square miles) below the previous record minimum extent in the satellite record (4.17 million square kilometers or 1.61 million square miles) which occurred on September 18, 2007. This difference is larger than the size of the state of Texas. The ice extent currently tracks nearly 50% below the 1979 to 2000 average minimum extent.

The situation in the Northwest Passage this year also contrasts with 2007. Both the narrow and shallow southern route used by the late polar explorer Roald Amundsen and the wide and deep northern route through the Parry Channel opened in 2007. This year only the southern route has opened. According to Stephen Howell of the Canadian Ice Service, rapid ice loss occurred in the Parry Channel in July. However, due in part to the August storm , a subsequent influx of multiyear ice from the north has kept at least some of the channel blocked.

These different patterns of ice loss in the sea routes between 2007 and 2012 highlight how a focus on overall total extent can overshadow regional aspects that have important implications. That 2007 was a record low extent at the time meant nothing to a ship trying to traverse the Northern Sea Route; likewise, the new record this year was meaningless to a ship trying to navigate through the Parry Channel.

Conditions in the Chukchi Sea, where Shell has started to drill for oil, provide another example. Shell’s operations were delayed in part because of greater than expected ice cover in the early summer. In the late summer, although passive microwave data showed that the Chukchi Sea was nearly ice-free, small floes of ice threatened Shell’s drilling platform, forcing the company to temporarily cease operations in the Arctic.
 

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

People & Company News

Great Lakes Shipyard to Build Guatemalan Harbor Tug

U.S. shipbuilding and repair yard Great Lakes Shipyard informs it has signed a contract to build another of its HandySize Class, 3,400 HP twin-screw tugboat for

BAE Systems Welcomes Record Number of Paid Interns

More than 140 university students from across the country are being given a unique insight into working life at BAE Systems, as part of the company’s 12-week summer internship program.

Drydocks World World’s Largest Turret

Drydocks World marked a milestone in completing the world’s largest turret mooring system. At almost 100 meters high, weighing over 11,000 tons and with a diameter of 26 meters,

Navigation

USCG, Royal Canadian Navy Conduct Jt Exercise

U.S. Coast Guard crews from Southeastern New England conducted various evolutions with the Royal Canadian Navy to train and improve the inter-operability of

HSL in Pact with Hyundai to Build Fleet Support Ships?

Hindustan Shipyard Ltd., the largest shipbuilding enterprise under Indian Ministry of Defence, and world’s premier shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) are

MN 100: Baker, Lyman & Co., Inc.

The Company: A wheelhouse favorite for generations, Baker, Lyman & Co. is the oldest NOAA & Admiralty Chart Agent in the United States. New Orleans-based Baker

Arctic Operations

US Navy Sub Completes Arctic Deployment

Fast-attack submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21) returned to its homeport of Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton August 21, following a six-month Arctic deployment during which

Russia Launches Arctic Drill

Russia launched military exercises in the Arctic. According to press service of Russia’s Defence Ministry, the interservice exercise of the Northern Fleet forces

Passage to the High North – When Spray Matters

Why bother about a bit of spray? In mild climate latitudes rain and spray water is hardly a concern; it will run off and the ship happily carries on. But going to the High North it’s different.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction
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: 0.2469 sec (4 req/sec)