Potential Impacts Of The Melting Arctic Icecaps Environmental Sciences Essay

August 12, 2017 Environmental Sciences

The effects of planetary heating to our environment are get downing to be seen through the thaw of the Arctic Ocean. Indeed, as at 2007, it is estimated that the Arctic ice cap had melted by more than one million square stat mis, doing a 50 % diminution in size of the Arctic ice cap than it was a half a century ago. The thaw of Arctic ice cap seems to be inevitable even in improbable state of affairs where clime alteration is immediately and greatly slowed down. As noted by Borgerson ( 2008, p.3 ) “ is no longer a affair of if but when, the Arctic Ocean will open to regular marine transit and geographic expedition of its moneymaking natural-resource sedimentations. ” If the rate at which the Arctic ice cap is runing continues for the following decennary, so, vass could get down utilizing the ‘trans-Artic sea paths. ” If this happens, the transportation industry would profit a batch by utilizing a shorter path and salvaging on one million millions of money. This paper seeks to discourse this topic by looking at impact of the thaw of the Artic ice caps on the planetary economic system in footings of the possible new conveyance paths for exports and imports.

Global heating in Arctic part has continued to raise international dissensions within the part. Surely the runing ice creates a catastrophe in Arctic. However, on the other side it as good opens u a new sea mob of the Northwest Passage that can be viewed as an gap for Arctic sea transit. There is force per unit area for those states surrounding the Arctic to keep their advantage over the seashore, therefore Canada, Norway, Russia, Norway and America are seeking to spread out their sovereignty further than the normal 200 maritime stat mis perimeter in the north-polar. As stated this paper examines the Northwest Passage.

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`In the past 20 old ages, planetary warming together with clime alteration has greatly affected the full universe and resulted in agony of many people, who are affected by natural catastrophes like tsunamis that happened in Indonesia and hurricane Katrina in New Orleans ( Lin, 2008, p 8 ) . Over the old ages climate alteration has resulted in the thaw of the Arctic ice sea which presents an gap for a new transportation path referred to as Northwest Passage.

In 2007, for the really first clip in recent epoch, the Northwest Passage opened up get downing from the Pacific traveling up to Atlantic Ocean. The thaw of the ice cap has increased 10 creases in the recent clip and has created a free ice country that can widen from Texas to New Mexico ( Lin, 2008, p 8 ) . For many old ages, many adventurers have dreamt of go throughing through an ice free Arctic path fall ining Asia and Europe. In their geographic expedition a batch of died seeking to populate their dream, nevertheless planetary heating has changed the status in Arctic through the thaw of ice.

As noted by co-chair of Marine Transport Workshop, Dr Brigham, between 1977 and 2004, the Numberss of successfully crossings to the North Pole were 52. Whereas 13 crossing were made by scientific organisations, the remaining was made by tourers. More of import, is that in 2004, eight ships went up to the North Pole ( Brigham and Ellis, 2004 ) .

The present attending that the Arctic is acquiring comes from a complex web that is related to assorted facets. For many, the thaw of ice in the Arctic is merely a fulfilled dream ; nevertheless this can ensue in international differences among environing states viz. , Demark, Canada, Russia, United States and Norway. All these states want to increase to their crowned head rights past the normal 200 maritime stat mi limitation within the Arctic. More so a figure of international bureaus as good have joined in this geographic expedition so as to achieve a sustainable development of Arctic. The complexness of originating from runing of the Arctic ice is related to the issue of the Northwest Passage, the environment concerns, cargo every bit good as sovereignty ( Lin, 2008, p 8 ) .

The Northwest Passage location

The sea routs running from Atlantic to Pacific oceans go throughing through the northern side of North America and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago are the 1s that are referred to as the Northwest Passage. The image below shows some of these paths.

Beginning: hypertext transfer protocol: //www.udel.edu/research/polar/brigham.html

We have five chief paths that base on balls through the transition ; however, merely two of these paths have the possible to let pilotage by deep bill of exchanges ships ( Lin, 2008, p 10 ) . For those expecting to utilize the path, it is yet to be clear if in the approaching hereafter the ice cap would hold melted plenty to allow ice-strengthened ships to utilize the available paths via the Northwest Passage ( Johnston,2002, P, 150 ) . During the summer, it is estimated that the icebergs move at a velocity of between 12 and 16 stat mis each twenty-four hours, this is hazard to ships. During the winter, ice freezings and it will necessitate an iceboat for a ship to travel through the transition ( Chen, 2008, p. 47 ) .

The Northern transition via the Artic Ocean links the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. This transition has been covered by ice for many old ages, nevertheless in the recent yesteryear ; its thaw has increased at a rate that was non expected by even the experts. This thaw is thought to be caused by planetary heating and the thaw of Arctic sea is opening up a fresh transportation transition that will allow a pilotage cutoff between Pacific and Atlantic ( Lin, 2008, p. 10 ) .

Increasing temperature in Arctic

A figure of surveies have revealed that the planetary clime is undergoing alterations, many scientists are soon certain that so the Arctic is sing a major addition in temperature that has been traveling on for the last 20 old ages, furthermore, there is an acceleration in the rate of warming that is traveling on. In reexamining the Fourth Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC ) , there is a general understanding among scientists that, the Arctic is runing at a high rate than in the yesteryear ( IPCC, 2007 ) . This is due to increased emanation of nursery gases. It is further estimated that averagely, the planetary temperature will increase by between 1 and 2 grades Celsius come mid this century. However, the there will be higher temperature addition in the North and it could hit 10 grades Celsius. It appears that planetary heating is certain, this is evident from increased planetary temperatures, extended thaw of ice every bit good as increasing planetary criterion sea degree ( Lin, 2008, p. 11 ) .

Opportunity of Northwest Passage

The above information indicates the possibility of vass utilizing the Northwest Passage. In 2005 a statement drawn by Canada on its international policy did undertaking that apart from the increasing economic activities that are traveling on in the north-polar part, alterations brought by planetary heating are anticipated to open up the Arctic Waterss to let commercial motion of vass come 2015 ( Pharand, 2007, p. 4 ) .

The minute the Northwest Passage is freed for commercial transit, it will be used as a cutoff linking Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. The transportation industry will profit from this since this will cut down the sums spend on theodolite and the transportation companies will endeavour to work this newfound transportation transition.

Report from the National Snow and Ice Data Center indicate in 2007 the Arctic ice declined by bout five million square kilometres from the clip record maintaining was started ( WWF Climate Change Programme, 2007 ) . If this happens, it will convey a new period in international trade every bit good as clime alteration. Experts in clime alterations predict that an ice-free Arctic could be possible by 2030 ( Lin, 2008, p. 20 ) .

Supposing the procedure of clime alteration continues and ice continues to run, so the Northwest Passage is bound to be accessible for commercial pilotage. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS ) outlines that the Arctic Ocean is non owned by any peculiar state since it is a high sea ; nevertheless, each state has got the right to have the resources that are available in the Arctic. The Northwest Passage nonetheless is yet to be endorsed in relation to its place as an international transition or non. The issue is presently unresolved treatment among states that border the Arctic. American and Canada hold different positions sing the control of this transition. In malice of their positions, the possibility of utilizing the Northwest Passage for sea activities still stands. This is due to the strategic every bit good as economic possibilities of this part.

It takes 11,300 stat mis to cover the distance New York and Tokyo is through Panama Canal, nevertheless when utilizing the Northwest Passage, it will simply take 8,700 stat mis ( Graff, 2007, p. 27 ) . More so, many of the transportation vass coming from London traveling to Tokyo base on balls via Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal with a distance of 12586 stat mis, which takes this vass about 35 yearss. However, this path utilizing the Northwest Passage will take merely 22 yearss since the distance reduces to 8060 stat mis ( Graff, 2007, p. 27 ) .

This is good new for a assorted industrialists who predict that the polar ice will run off to open up the transportation path. A good illustration is Pat Broe a celebrated Denver investor ; he has bought the rundown port of Churchill found on Hudson Bay from Canadian governments in 1997. Establishing on Broe ‘s logical thinking, the fanciful Northwest Passage is far shorter by 1000s of kilometres than the current southern sea paths. The minute the Arctic ice thaws ways, Churchill has a potency of brining in over $ 100 1000000s each twelvemonth when used as a port for vass utilizing the Arctic transportation path running from Europe through Asia and America ( Lin, 2008, p. 23 ) .

As envisioned by Brigham, ( 2008, p. 28 ) in his article “ Thinking about the Arctic ‘s Future: Scenarios for 2040, ” the thaw of the Arctic will show in polar transit where the Arctic will supply more entree to other parts than earlier. There will be commercial transportation at Hudson Bay, coastal parts of Alaska and in the northwest portion of Russia. Ships transporting unsafe and sensitive atomic stuffs will be able to utilize the northern sea path, go throughing through Europe to Japan, therefore hedging the normal pilotage path and the costal routes where there is rough political resistance towards motion of such stuff. However, all these commercial activities will ensue in alone environmental impact on the whole part of the Arctic Brigham, ( 2008, p. 28 ) .

Down side of the Northwest Passage path

The possibility for immense considerably nest eggs in footings of money and clip are clear when utilizing the Northwest Passage. Nonetheless, the challenge lies in edifice vass that can defy ice and this will intend that they will be more expensive and could be well slow compared to the normal vas running on normal paths.

There are a figure of state of affairss that happen when vass are utilizing these path and some have been outlined by the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment ( AMSA ) these include:

Fire get downing on an oil well in Canada/America country

Collision affecting a oiler and ship on Norway/Russia boundary line

A immense vas transporting natural stuffs droping near the north pole

A large sail ship with over 2000 riders developing a mechanical job

It has been pointed out that owing to the fact that this transition is really far from substructures and support systems or deliverance installations in instance of an accident, it will be hard to help the victims. On the ecological facet, there is the challenge of pollution every bit good as emanations from these vass ; surely these will impact the marine life of the Arctic, since some surveies have proved that ships emit gases that have a harmful consequence to the marine life.


It can be concluded that so, lifting temperatures in Arctic part are doing the ice cap to run and give manner to monolithic H2O ways, this clime alteration has resulted in unannounced transmutation in the Arctic by making a possible circumpolar transit path: The Northwest Passage. When this happens as it will in the close hereafter, it will ensue in new sea cutoff routes that will greatly cut down the distance covered and the clip used. This will alter the transportation industry in a remarkably manner and great farther chances in other industries particularly, excavation and oil. However, there will be ecological side effects that will hold to be dealt with.


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