(NDJ) – Scientists at the University of California warn that by 2050 ice on the North Pole will be so thin, ships will be able to sail right through it.
NDJ World | Published: Mar 05 2013 Lifestyle
That ‘new route’ will make trade between Europe and China much cheaper but will also provide governments with new environmental problems they will have to address.
For the past decade ice on the North Pole has been steadily melting and layers of once thick ice have become thin sheets of frozen water that can easily be broken by ships.
46 ‘ordinary’ ships managed to sail through Northern Russia since last year. A few got stuck and had to be rescued by icebreakers, but scientists state it’s clear the polar ice is only getting thinner, possibly disappearing.
The scientists say that by 2050 ice in the North Pole will be so thin, ships will be able to sail straight through the North Pole. That will especially be true in the month of September, when ice is thinnest right after the summer.
Taking this new route, ships would save 18 days in travel and burn far less fuel, making trade cheaper. Each trade trip would be reduced by $US200,000 to $US380,000.
The downside is an environmental disaster: no ice on the North Pole means a much warmer climate still. Government entities will have to deal with new pollution rules in a still pristine part of the world.
Ships sailing straight through the North Pole will also bring with it ecological problems yet not faced. Animals and native tribes will become extinct or will have to be relocated. Sea live will also undergo a major change and many North Pole species will simply disappear.
For now, only ‘icebreakers’, ships equipped with a reinforced hulls, are able to crush through sections of the ice at the North Pole.
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