Navigating a warming Arctic Ocean

The Arctic ice cap is shrinking under the influence of global warming.  The map compares the extent of the Arctic ice cap on Sept. 10, 1011, with the September average for 2002 through 2006.

A Northern Sea Route across the top of Russia and a Northwest Passage across the top of Canada soon will be open.  Someday it may be possible to cross the Arctic Ocean via the North Pole.

The warming of the Arctic will open its vast oil, mineral and fisheries resources for development, and create an arena for economic rivalry, political conflict and perhaps military confrontation.  Below is a map showing the Arctic ports in relation to oil and gas fields and the projected shrinking of the Arctic ice caps over the next few decades.

Click to enlarge

The last map is the creation of visionaries who hope that Churchill, Manitoba, on Canada’s Hudson’s Bay will become an ocean port for export of the wheat and oil of western Canada to Europe, and linking Murmansk in Russia to the heart of North America.  I don’t know how feasible this is, but it is an example of how people see the potential of a warming Arctic.

Click on Arctic sea ice is melting at its fastest pace in 40 years for an article in The Guardian about the shrinking of the polar cap.  Last summer the Northwest Passage was open to navigation.

Click on The Arctic: Through icy waters for a report on cooperation among the Arctic nations in the Financial Times.

Click on The Arctic Bridge & Gateway for a web site devoted to opening a Manitoba-Murmansk ocean route.

Click on Arctic Economics: the Arctic Bridge for more about this project.  Shipments actually have been made from Murmansk to Churchill, Manitoba.

Click on The potential wealth of a warming Arctic for maps of Arctic oil and gas and of national territorial claims.

Click on The great day of annihilation: Arctic for a web log on military rivalry in the Arctic.

Click on Who Owns the Arctic? for a web log on the international politics of the Arctic.

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