Arctic marine transportation
Brigham, Lawson W. Geography Program, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska.
- Arctic globalization
- Sea-ice changes
- Arctic marine shipping assessment
- New marine technology
- Additional Readings
The use of the Arctic Ocean for expanded marine transportation has garnered increased interest around the globe. This attention is primarily due to the historic transformation and reduction of Arctic sea-ice extent and thickness in response to a warming Earth. However, it is development of the Arctic's vast, untapped storehouse of natural resources—oil, gas, and mineral wealth—and increased marine tourism that are linking the maritime Arctic to the rest of the planet. Both are primary drivers of increasing Arctic marine traffic. Future integration of the Arctic's natural wealth with global markets and expanded polar marine tourism are expected to be dominant factors influencing Arctic marine operations. Large ships in remote areas such as the “top of the world” present a host of critical safety and environmental challenges for Arctic people and the marine environment. The physical changes in Arctic sea ice surely hold key implications for longer seasons of navigation and new access to once remote coastal regions. These changes may also allow for limited, summer transarctic voyages, beginning in the Russian maritime Arctic (Fig. 1).
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