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Human and Economic Indicators - Marine Access in the Canadian Arctic

Shishmaref | Arctic Marine Access | Canadian Marine Access | Roads

It has been suggested that warming and a reduction of sea ice could improve shipping opportunities by opening the Northwest Passage. The report "Shipping in the Canadian Arctic: Other Possible Climate Change Scenarios (2004) " from the Canadian Ice Service and the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Victoria, Canada, reviews the results of several studies relevant to future shipping conditions in the Northwest Passage. Their conclusions indicate that predictions of an ice-free Arctic may lead many into a false sense of optimism regarding the ease of future shipping. Sea ice is highly variable and there will still be summers of occasional heavy ice conditions. Future navigation in the Northwest Passage may see a blockage of routes by the southern shift in pack ice and an increase in drifting Old Ice creating choke points in narrow channels and navigation hazards. Finally, our ability to predict future impacts on Arctic sea ice are imperfect, and there are a number of different climate change scenarios.

Northwest Passage
 
The shipping route known as the Northwest Passage is shown in black on this map of the Canadian Arctic. From The report Shipping in the Canadian Arctic: Other Possible Climate Change Scenarios (2004) .

Updated information for 2010 on Canadian Arctic Shipping routes is available from Transport Canada:

Canadian shipping routes
 
Canadian Arctic shipping routes from Transport Canada Arctic Shipping. Updated 2010-01-18.

 

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