Sunday, June 8, 2014

Looking for the Central Arctic Route

This will not be the year of the great Arctic melt-out. I can predict that because of how solid the ice in the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska and Yukon, still is. It is barely two weeks before the summer solstice, and for a melt-out to occur, the ice here should be starting to fall apart, allowing time for the ocean to warm so that warm water can hasten the melt of some of the thicker ice further north. With that not happening this early, the melt-out will have to wait for another year. There is a fair chance, though, of the Central Arctic shipping lane opening up. The ice on the Asian side of the North Pole is already looking very weak, and it seems plausible that it could substantially all melt away by September. Then cargo ships could travel between Norway and the Bering Strait by way of the North Pole, or at least north of all the Asian islands in the Arctic Ocean. The scientific consensus view is that the Central Arctic route will be open essentially every summer by 2050, so could 2014 be the first year? It is too soon to say.