July 25, 2011
Due to harsh climate and the lack of proper transportation route, the areas in the Arctic that are currently of chief interest, are confined to the Barents Sea area, the Mackenzie Valley in Canada, and the Alaskan North Slope (attached map credit – UNEP/GRID 2005).
The sea routes, along the coasts of Northern Canada and Russia are expected to help in decreasing the shipping time for the transportation of goods from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts of Europe and North America. More importantly, the route will be the major means to transport natural resources, extracted in the Arctic. The harsh ice condition has however made it impossible to operate these routes in the current time. The shipping route in Northern Sea Route, north of Russia is partly open and Northwest Passage, on the Northern Canada is not open for commercial shipping yet, because of sea ice.
The experts are optimistic that the climate change will help in decreasing ice in the area and it might help in opening the route. There is also a possibility of the development of a better shipping / transportation technology, even if the global warming were ineffective in melting the ice.
The fossil fuel development activities in the arctic is best represented by a 2005 map attached below.
Industrial development in the Arctic (UNEP/GRID-Arendal, 2005)
In a lighter note, the heated border dispute on the Arctic should have long melted the ice. Or, wasn’t it heated enough?