Rabu, 16 September 2009

Dwindling Arctic Sea Ice

The summer of 2009 marked an historic first; the first time that ships traveled from Asia to Europe via the Arctic Ocean. A short route from Europe to Asia has been the dream of sailors since Columbus set sail for Southeast Asia from Europe over 500 years ago. Two ships completed the first trip via the Arctic route in September of 2009, according to a news article on the Web site of the German shipping company, Beluga Shipping GmbH.

In 2009 there was only a short window of opportunity before sea ice closed the route again for the year. But in 30 years the trans-Arctic shipping season could last for three months or more. The new Arctic route cuts nearly 40% off the distance traveled via the usual more southerly routes through either the Suez canal or the Panama canal.

Global warming, dwindling sea ice; good for shipping, bad for polar bears.

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