Page 269 - yearbook pdf

This is a SEO version of yearbook pdf. Click here to view full version

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »
Arctic Yearbook 2012
Shipping and Resources in the Arctic Ocean
Figure 3: The Northwest Passage
Source: articmap-newpass3.gif/
Sea ice conditions within the archipelago vary dramatically from year to year, presenting
unpredictability to any surface operation. There is mounting evidence that sea ice reduction will
continue, although there is great uncertainty over the rate at which sea ice will continue to diminish.
In summers 2007 and 2008, most of the archipelago was so-called ice free, promising to open the
NWP to high volumes of intercontinental commercial shipping. This warrants a comment on the
concept of
Most Arctic shipping experts view this term as meaning ice-infested with icebergs, bergy bits and
growlers present, even in the summer period. In fact, some believe shipping operations in this
environment can be even more dangerous than in ice-covered areas. From a mariner’s point of view,
it has been assumed that with less ice, more icebreaking capacity will be needed. The reasoning goes
as follows:
Initially, as first year ice weakens and/or disappears; its ability to keep multi-year ice out
of shipping areas will be adversely affected. This will mean that, even if there is less ice
overall, it will be much harder, pose more of a damage risk and be more difficult to
break the passage through. I have rammed multi-year ice with a heavy icebreaker, been
stopped and when the icebreaker was reversed, was not able to see any evidence of the
impact of ice. The same lack of first year ice will also allow for much more freedom of
movement of the multi-year ice pack which will then likely compact in chokepoints,
thereby compounding the problem. In the future then, as the climate changes, we can
look forward to standard ice deviations in coverage, thickness and movement that will
continue to increase dramatically, giving shipping some of the best “ice” years yet, but
potentially some of the worst as well (Marr 2001: 1).