“The Northern Sea Route is predicted to have up to 125 days per year suitable for navigation by 2050,” says the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on Monday. The report is not a wild-card scenario; “climate changes are already well underway,” reads the conclusion based on science- and research from around the globe.
Today the Northern Sea Route is open for navigation around 50 days, with an increase the latest four years. While the Russians have sailed interregional voyages from Murmansk and Arkhangelsk towards the north coast of Siberia for decades, transit shipping is relatively new. First ever bulk-vessel to sail the Northern Sea Route in transit was in 2010 with iron-ore from Kirkenes, Norway to China without making a stopover at a Russian port.
The scientists underline that predicted duration of ice-free periods in the Arctic Ocean is generally underestimated.
Shipping from major European ports to Shanghai is some 40 percent shorter via the Northern Sea Route compared with the Suez Canal. Shorter shipping distance cuts emissions, but increases the probability of shipping accidents with severe consequences for the fragile Arctic environment.
The ice-free period for shipping coincides with the breeding season of sea mammals and sea birds. Accidents with oil spill could therefore be disastrous.
Record low sea-ice was seen during summer in both 2007 and 2012.
The Russian company this summer assembled 3D seismic data from a 2800 square kilometer area in the Barents Sea. The company believes the area could hold 1.4 billion tons of oil and 1.9 trillion cubic meters of gas.
KIRKENES: Warmer temperatures at the bottom of the Barents Sea are of big concern to ecologists in the High North. Certain marine species are disappearing from the ecosystem while others are increasing in number. The impact on Russia’s fisheries sector is crucial.
Industrialists in Finland eye the opening of a major trade and transport route with a projected railway connection to the Norwegian Arctic coast. Former PM Paavo Lipponen has been hired to get the Norwegians onboard.
Photographer Cristian Barnett traveled around the Arctic Circle, capturing life at 66° 33′ 44″ N. The result is his new book and traveling exhibition, Life on the Line. BarentsObserver spoke with Barnett about his impressions of life on the Circle and the decisions he made to capture it.
The autumn of 1944 large parts of Finnmark and northern Troms were burnt and destroyed by Nazi German forces retreating from onrushing Soviet troops. The civilian population was forced to evacuate or hide.