Melting Sea Ice Opens Arctic Passages for Invasive Species

By George Backwell
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Arctic Navigation: File photo

For the first time in roughly 2 million years, melting Arctic sea ice is connecting the north Pacific and north Atlantic oceans. The newly opened passages leave both coasts and Arctic waters vulnerable to a large wave of invasive species, biologists from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center assert in a commentary published in 'Nature Climate Change' and excerpted here.

Two new shipping routes have opened in the Arctic: the Northwest Passage through Canada, and the Northern Sea Route, a 3000-mile stretch along the coasts of Russia and Norway connecting the Barents and Bering seas. While new opportunities for tapping Arctic natural resources and interoceanic trade are high, commercial ships often inadvertently carry invasive species. Organisms from previous ports can cling to the undersides of their hulls or be pumped in the enormous tanks of ballast water inside their hulls. Now that climate change has given ships a new, shorter way to cross between oceans, the risks of new invasions are escalating.

“Trans-Arctic shipping is a game changer that will play out on a global scale,” said lead author Whitman Miller. “The economic draw of the Arctic is enormous. Whether it’s greater access to the region’s rich natural resource reserves or cheaper and faster inter-ocean commercial trade, Arctic shipping will reshape world markets. If unchecked, these activities will vastly alter the exchange of invasive species, especially across the Arctic, north Atlantic and north Pacific oceans.”

For the past 100-plus years, shipping between oceans passed through the Panama or Suez Canals. Both contain warm, tropical water, likely to kill or severely weaken potential invaders from colder regions. In the Panama Canal, species on the hulls of ships also had to cope with a sharp change in salinity, from marine to completely fresh water. The Arctic passages contain only cold, marine water. As long as species are able to endure cold temperatures, their odds of surviving an Arctic voyage are good. That, combined with the shorter length of the voyages, means many more species are likely to remain alive throughout the journey.

Though the routes pose major risks to the north Atlantic and north Pacific coasts, the Arctic is also becoming an attractive destination. Tourism is growing, and it contains vast stores of natural resources. The Arctic holds an estimated 13 percent of the world’s untapped oil and 30 percent of its natural gas. Greenland’s supply of rare earth metals is estimated to be able to fill 20 to 25 percent of global demand for the near future. Until now the Arctic has been largely isolated from intensive shipping, shoreline development and human-induced invasions, but the scientists said that is likely to change drastically in the decades to come.

“The good news is that the Arctic ecosystem is still relatively intact and has had low exposure to invasions until now,” said coauthor Greg Ruiz. “This novel corridor is only just opening. Now is the time to advance effective management options that prevent a boom in invasions and minimize their ecological, economic and health impacts.”
 
The abstract is at: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n6/full/nclimate2244.html

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter May 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Iranian Port Deal: Modi's Masterstroke

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a deal to develop the Chabahar port in Iran for which India will extend $500 million. The historic pact makes Chabahar

Winners of Ferry Design Contest Selected

Winners of International Student Design Competition for a Safe Affordable Ferry to be revealed at the Ferry Safety and Technology Conference   Dr. Roberta Weisbrod,

Maritime Consolidation: Palfinger Aims to Acquire Harding

As maritime markets continue to struggle, merger and acquisition activity should heat up. Today, Austria's Palfinger Group announced that it intends to acquire

Environmental

Design Concept: Zero Emissions Cargo Ship

The designs for a multi access zero emissions cargo ship will be unveiled at the 5th Natural Propulsion Seminar in Wageningen, Netherlands, on Tuesday, May 24. The

First Cruise Company Fined under Australia’s New Fuel Rules

Australia’s NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Carnival PLC $15,000 after one of its P&O Cruises ships, the Pacific Jewel, breached new low sulfur fuel regulations in Sydney Harbour.

HUMMEL LNG Hybrid Barge Begins Second Season

For over one year the HUMMEL has been contributing to improved air quality at the port of Hamburg. Becker Marine Systems’ LNG Hybrid Barge will also be supplying

Arctic Operations

Life Extension for World’s Oldest Icebreaker

A comprehensive dry docking and life extension plan has been set out for the 62-year-old Finnish icebreaker Voima, continuing its run as the world’s oldest operational icebreaker.

Research Vessel Polarstern Returns to Bremerhaven

Antarctic season ends in the homeport after half a year Bremerhaven / Germany, 11 May 2016. on Wednesday, 11 May 2016, the research vessel Polarstern is expected

ABB Azipods Selected for First Chinese-built Icebreaker

ABB’s Azipod propulsion chosen to power polar science research vessel for debut into Chinese icebreaker market   ABB’s Azipod propulsion system will power a Chinese

Ballast Water Treatment

New Rules for Ballast Water Management in Australia

Since July 2001, all ships entering Australian ports or waters from overseas have been subject to Australia’s national ballast water management requirements.   These

OceanSaver Completes USCG Testing

OceanSaver informs it has finalized all testing required for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) type approval application of ballast water management systems.   OceanSaver

Ocean Observation

G7 Meeting to Tackle Sea Row in Asia Pacific

Group of Seven (G7) leaders will call for respect for the rule of law and peaceful resolution to conflicts in a joint statement to be issued Friday at the end of their two-day summit,

Subsea Forestry: Separating The Wood From The Trees…

Over the course of the last 20 years, oil and gas companies have cultivated a vast metallic forest beneath the world’s oceans, consisting now of some 5,800 installed subsea trees,

FIO’s New Research Vessel Enters Build Phase

The 78’ research vessel designed and engineered by Boksa Marine Design (BMD) in 2015 is headed to the building phase beginning in June.   BMD contracted with

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators 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: 0.1046 sec (10 req/sec)