Arctic shipping to open up

Researchers at the UK’s University of Reading suggest shipping routes across the Arctic will open up dramatically in the coming decades. In a new report, the researchers suggest non-ice class ships will be able to transit the Arctic by 2050, even transiting right over the top of the area.

Moreover, the research shows that if CO2 emissions are not reduced – as per last year’s Paris Agreement – then moderately ice-strengthened vessels could be routinely sailing across the Arctic towards the end of this century for perhaps 10-12 months of the year.

“The reduction in summer sea-ice, perhaps the most striking sign of climate change, may also provide economic opportunities,” commented Reading’s Dr Nathanael Melia.

“There is renewed interest in trans-Arctic shipping because of potentially reduced costs and journey times between Asia and the Atlantic. So far only a few commercial vessels have utilised these routes as they are not currently reliably open.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Sam, please note that the proper title to the article should have been “Arctic shipping p-r-e-d-i-c-t-e-d to open up”.

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