It is commonly known that the melting of sea-ice caused by global warming will only bring harmful impact to future human generations and endangering species. However, scientists from University of Reading proved that this theory might be wrong after all. The group of scientists believed that melting sea ice might provide new opportunities to the economy as this will open up new Arctic shipping routes.
Dr Nathanael Melia along with Dr Ed Hawkins and Dr Keith Haines, from the Department of Meteorology in University of Reading, conducted a study on the impact of sea ice declination on 21st century trans-Arctic shipping routes.
In the study, the scientists stated that with the melting of sea ice, new and faster trans-Arctic routes will be opened and shipping season will be extended, thus providing new economic opportunities. Average journey to East Asia will also be dramatically reduced when shipping companies utilize these Arctic routes.
Dr Nathanael Melia denoted future climate change scenarios by representative (greenhouse gas) concentration pathways (RCPs) (Melia, 2016). In high emission scenarios, Open Water (OW) vessels are made with no specific ice strengthening (Melia, 2016). Sea ice declination can cut cost as polar class six (PC6) vessels that are capable of operation in medium first-year ice comes with a 20% capital cost premium (Melia, 2016).
Hence, the study conducted suggests that the declination of sea ice may create new economic opportunities. However, Dr Ed Hawkins, co-author of study, remarked that due to other environmental and economic factors, it is also uncertain if the increased transit opportunities will outweigh the risks involved.
Paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, “Sea ice decline and 21st century trans-Arctic shipping routes”, doi: 10.1002/2016GL069315: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016GL069315/abstract