In 2050 Ships Will Be Able To Sail Right Over The North Pole

A new study indicates the possible positive in the low sea ice levels throughout the Arctic: a new, faster trans-Atlantic shipping route by 2040.

The study, published Monday, March 4 in the journal Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, found that by 2040 ships should be able to travel straight through the North Pole in September, without having to worry about getting trapped in sea ice.

Currently, these areas are permanently shrouded in ice. Using climate model predictions and the historic lows the Arctic has been experiencing in the summers.

On Aug. 26 this year, the Arctic sea ice reached the lowest levels ever seen, and kept melting. Some other researchers have suggested that the sea ice could be gone within four years.

The shorter trip could mean cheaper and faster travel between Russia and Europe. It could shave up to 8,000 miles and days of travel off the journey from Shanghai to Europe. This could mean cheaper trade worldwide.

Here’s the new route compared to current trans-Atlantic travel — a key shipping lane along the Russian Arctic coast:

Optimal September navigation routes for ice-strengthened (red) and common open-water (blue) ships travelling between Rotterdam, The Netherlands and St. John’s, Newfoundland in the years 2040-2059.

Photo: Laurence C. Smith and Scott R. Stephenson

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