Global climate change and melting sea ice, offers more and more opportunities for international transportation networks.
Notably, the trend of receding ice cap around the North Pole could possibly make the Arctic more reliable for scheduled navigation, at least during the summer months.
The Northwest Passage, crossing the Canadian Arctic is predicted to be used on regular basis by the year of 2020, cutting down the maritime shipping distance from East Asia and Western Europe substantially.
Currently, two sea routes have been defined to cross the Arctic, enabling ships to move between the Atlantic ocean and the Pacific ocean and thus have the possible status as international strait (or waters) giving right to transit passage.
Both of them overlap significantly the jurisdiction of either Canada or Russia, which can create certain legal difficulties if or when Trans-Arctic shipping becomes a reality.
Scientific data, to what extent the receding perennial ice cover is melting, remains highly uncertain. Cargo shipping services around the Arctic Circle are very limited as there is no possibility for the operators to drop and pick up cargo as they pass through. This also limits the opportunity for the trans – shipment hubs to rise along the Arctic shipping routes.
In the shipping portlet more information can be found on the Northwest Sea Route and the Northeast Sea Route, as well as the more distant possibility of the Central Arctic shipping route.
Click on the interactive map on the left hand side to see current and future Arctic shipping routes. You can also access the Arctic Portal Interactive Mapping System and find Arctic shipping routes under Arctic Shipping in the drop down menu on the left hand side.