“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.
Russia is stepping up its military activity in the Arctic region. As part of this effort, Russian Armed Forces reopened an abandoned military base on the Kola Peninsula in the Russia city of Alakurtti recently, just 60 kilometres from the Finnish border.
The snow crab has the potential of becoming the next big food resource from the Barents Sea. But does the snow crab also contain bioactive components that can be used in medicine and health food? The scientists have just started to search for an answer to that question.
TROMSØ: Erna Solberg, Alexander Stubb and Kristina Persson outlined strategies for growth and cooperation in the north. No attention was given to the man sitting directly in front of the on the first row; Putin’s former special envoy for the Arctic Artur Chilingarov.
Take a look at how Russian Christmas is celebrated at Malye Korely open-air museum, what is looks like to cross the frozen Dvina river by foot in -27°C, and how beautiful the old northern town of Arkhangelsk can be in mid-winter.