Tokyo: The Global Ice Center at Weathernews Inc has announced that the Northern Sea Route (NSR) bordering Russia is now open to commercial shipping traffic as of August 21. This is two weeks earlier than last season when lower than average temperatures resulted in slow pace of melting in the Arctic Ocean. Last summer, the northeastern passage opened at the beginning of September.
Meanwhile large areas of sea ice still remain in the northwestern passage along the Canadian coast. Based on analysis of satellite images by the Global Ice Center (GIC), ice experts at Weathernews predicts this too should melt away by early September, thus opening the other passage for vessels.
The NSR has been in use by vessels escorted by Russian icebreakers since late June. However, enough ice has melted north of the New Siberian Islands (Novosibirsk) to allow vessels to pass through the region with minimal risk of collision from now until early October, according to Weathernews’ Global Ice Center.
Chinese shipping companies continue to eye the Arctic as a new, quicker route to Europe with a number of Chinese transits expected soon.
“Weathernews are confident that Chinese shipping companies will also actively use the NSR in the near future,” a spokesperson for the Japanese company told SinoShip News. [28/08/14]