Study Finds Climate Change To Open Arctic Sea Routes By 2050 | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Study Finds Climate Change To Open Arctic Sea Routes By 2050

Climate change will make commercial shipping possible from North America to Russia or Asia over the North Pole by the middle of the century, a new study says.

Two researchers at the University of California ran seven different climate models simulating two classes of vessels to see if they could make a relatively ice-free passage through the Arctic Ocean. In each case, the sea routes are sufficiently clear after 2049, they say.

The study, published Monday in the journal PNAS by Laurence C. Smith and Scott R. Stephenson, found that the sea ice will become thin enough that a "corridor directly over the north pole" will open up. "The shortest great circle route thus becomes feasible, for ships with moderate ice-breaking capability."

(A great circle route is the shortest distance between two points on the surface of a sphere, such as the Earth.)

Smith and Stephenson conclude that the opening of the new routes "heightens the urgency for a mandatory International Maritime Organization regulatory framework to ensure adequate environmental protections, vessel safety standards, and search-and-rescue capability."

According to The Guardian:

"The northern sea route has been shown to save a medium-sized bulk carrier 18 days and 580 tons of bunker fuel on a journey between northern Norway and China. Shipowners have said it can save them ?180,000-?300,000 ($235,000-$390,000) on each voyage. A direct route over the pole could save up to 40 percent more fuel and time."

Arctic sea ice has shrunk to its smallest extent on record in recent years, which has already opened up a seasonal northern route over Canada. Last year, a solo sailor in a 27-foot fiberglass sailboat was one of 18 private yachts to make the voyage.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

From Bond Girl To Medicine Woman: Jane Seymour's Big Break

The actress is best known for her role as Dr. Quinn, the physician on the American frontier. But her big break came years before, when she played 007's tarot-reading love interest in Live and Let Die.
NPR

'Into The Wild' Author Tries Science To Solve Toxic Seed Mystery

Jon Krakauer has long been haunted by how Christopher McCandless died in the Alaskan wilderness. In a scientific journal, he and a chemist show that the seeds McCandless consumed can contain a toxin.
NPR

5 Things You Should Know About Ben Carson

The pediatric neurosurgeon performed pioneering operations on conjoined twins and has never held public office before. Here's what else you might not know.
NPR

The Promise And Potential Pitfalls Of Apple's ResearchKit

Apple's new mobile software platform is designed to help collect data for medical research, but concerns have been raised about privacy and informed consent.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.