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posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 31, @01:05PM   Printer-friendly

Now that the poles are melting, and that seven of the world's ten biggest shipping companies have suspended transit through the Red Sea, and that deforestation is drying up the Panama Canal, the site Modern Diplomacy raises the question, how viable is Arctic shipping? Even with the ice eventually out of the way, it is not necessarily the best option for transportation.

Increasingly, yes — and for a worrying reason. The Arctic is warming four times faster than the global average. Since 1978 ice cover has shrunk by roughly 78,000 square kilometres per year. In June 2023 a study in Nature Communications, a journal, suggested that the Arctic's first ice-free summer could come as soon as the 2040s, even if the world significantly reduces its greenhouse-gas emissions. As ice thins and cold-water shipping technology advances, Arctic waters will become more easily navigable.

They are already getting busier, if from a low base. The most popular shipping route in the Arctic is the nsr, which is controlled by Russia. Trade volumes along the route increased by 755% between 2014 and 2022. Russia wants traffic to increase ten-fold from 2022 levels by 2035. In October it announced a joint venture with DP World, an Emirati logistics company, to develop Arctic container shipping. That month NewNew Shipping Line, a Chinese firm, completed its first round-trip on an Arctic route between Shanghai and St Petersburg.

[...] The Arctic will struggle to rival established shipping routes. Extreme seasonal weather limits its potential for commercial shipping. But as the ice cover shrinks, its waters will become busier — and Russia will make ever greater use of them.

Back in September, Nature had an article about updating the Polar Code as shipping through the region increases. The Polar Code is a regulatory framework to try to reduce the likelihood of shipping disasters along the Arctic routes.


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  • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by DadaDoofy on Wednesday January 31, @03:31PM (12 children)

    by DadaDoofy (23827) on Wednesday January 31, @03:31PM (#1342515)

    Failed presidential candidate and self-anointed climate scientist Al Gore told us this would happen way back in 2013. Even the far-left "fact checking" site Snopes admits:

    "In the years 2007, 2008, and 2009, Al Gore made statements about the possibility of a complete lack of summer sea ice in the Arctic by as early as 2013. While Gore attributed these predictions to scientists, they stemmed from a selective reading of aggressive estimates regarding future melting ... the predictions, which in some cases were overstated, did not pan out."

    So is the 2040 number mentioned in TFS the Gaia's honest truth, or is it just another "selective reading of aggressive estimates regarding future melting"?

    • (Score: 5, Touché) by janrinok on Wednesday January 31, @03:58PM (2 children)

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 31, @03:58PM (#1342516) Journal

      Or you could read the scientific paper that is linked to in the bottom line and look at the raw data, the analysis and their conclusions. You don't have to trust anyone else - you can read it and analyse it yourself.

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      • (Score: 1, Troll) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 31, @04:39PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 31, @04:39PM (#1342523)

        Why learn facts when uncertainty can stoke controversy?

        --
        🌻🌻 [google.com]
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by HiThere on Wednesday January 31, @09:38PM

        by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 31, @09:38PM (#1342560) Journal

        Well to be fair, that would be "asserted as facts".
        SOMETHING needs to be done about all the fraudulent papers! Replications aren't sufficiently rewarded, so they don't get published. Neither, usually, are disagreements. This is not good. Spilling things out in public has just resulted in unverified papers being seen earlier in the process, when fewer mistakes and obvious errors have been ruled out.

        Still, the scientific record is the most reliable source we've got, unless you want to dig up the original experimental design and rerun it yourself.

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    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by zocalo on Wednesday January 31, @04:21PM (8 children)

      by zocalo (302) on Wednesday January 31, @04:21PM (#1342518)
      I think it's more likely to be an updated extrapolation based on the current data and models, but it's still something of a guesstimate. I suspect the key part in the change from Gore's 2013 figure (which was probably just him quoting a scientific paper done by others) is more down to the models; the more research is done, the more we unpick the complex interactions of how the various planetary systems that contribute to the climate actually work, and advances in computing mean that the models can work with higher resolution datasets, which hopefully would lead to more accurate results.

      Fact is, while we now understand an awful lot about how some of these things work, but we're still only scratching the surface on all the interactions, feedback loops, and tipping points, and that leads to some fairly substantial error bars. Needless to say, reporters will often tend to pick one end of the other of those bars depending on how they want to spin their story if it'll generate more of a reaction/clicks from their intended audience. To be fair, in this case they are saying "as soon as" the 2040s, so I suspect whatever model they're looking at has error bars that extend from 2040 to some other point in time beyond that and the "most likely" value therefore being some point after 2040.

      All assuming we don't cross some tipping point not factored into the model which speeds things up - or even slows them down, e.g. if the North Atlantic Current stops and the Arctic cools dramatically as a result.
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      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by HiThere on Wednesday January 31, @09:47PM (7 children)

        by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 31, @09:47PM (#1342562) Journal

        FWIW, arctic shipping is already increasing, so "as soon as 2040" is already wrong...until you specifically quantify it. And the amount of Arctic shipping is going to depend on politics as well as economics. (And "new customers" may relocate into places that have become "more hospitable".) For that matter, ship design is also important. Some ships have already "sailed through the Arctic" in winter. They were "special purpose" expeditions (scientific & military), so this is one extreme edge, but things that used to be flatly impossible are now feasible.

        FWIW, my projection is that Arctic shipping will continue to increase, but that it will continue to be "more expensive per mile" than normal shipping, though decreasingly so.

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        • (Score: 3, Informative) by Reziac on Thursday February 01, @02:26AM (6 children)

          by Reziac (2489) on Thursday February 01, @02:26AM (#1342578) Homepage

          The same nonsense went around in 1903. There was a spate of melting, and fantasies about a shortened route across the Arctic Sea.

          It looked promising, But within a couple years those who tried it needed to be rescued from the ice.

          --
          And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
          • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Thursday February 01, @09:29AM (5 children)

            by PiMuNu (3823) on Thursday February 01, @09:29AM (#1342611)

            While I agree in part, 1903 was before satellites and even airplanes. There were no reliable maps of the extent of sea ice and the people going north of Canada were truly explorers. It doesn't mean that the sea ice is more pregnable, but we are in a different era now.

            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Reziac on Thursday February 01, @12:37PM (4 children)

              by Reziac (2489) on Thursday February 01, @12:37PM (#1342624) Homepage

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_multidecadal_oscillation [wikipedia.org]

              Give it a few years, it'll swing back the other way, and the sea ice with it.

              [As to the "Criticism" -- I consider Mann completely discredited by his own mouth, so his blanket dismissal is just noise. Volcanoes are not that rapidly cyclic. And if they were, it would completely contradict the rest of his hypothesis, so make up your mind.]

              Might also want to look at

              https://classic.nullschool.net/#2024/02/01/1200Z/wind/isobaric/500hPa/overlay=temp/orthographic=-98.87,45.96,790/loc=-104.822,45.910 [nullschool.net]

              See that flow off the Pacific? that's the remnants of a huge and high-powered double vortex, which previously brought us unseasonable October cold from Siberia, took a couple months to completely cycle around, and happened to fall apart when it was bringing us warm Pacific air.

              --
              And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
              • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Thursday February 01, @02:34PM (3 children)

                by PiMuNu (3823) on Thursday February 01, @02:34PM (#1342633)

                Interestingly no evidence of global warming on that graph. Hmm, I wonder what the heat capacity of atmosphere is compared to ocean (ocean being much more dense, one might imagine that the ocean takes a lot more heating for a given temperature response).

                • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Friday February 02, @08:04AM (2 children)

                  by Reziac (2489) on Friday February 02, @08:04AM (#1342765) Homepage

                  Yeah, ain't that interesting.... long term is all for cooling, we're just wobbling in and out of an ice age.

                  Answer conveniently found here:
                  https://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/06/energy-content-the-heat-is-on-atmosphere-vs-ocean/ [wattsupwiththat.com]

                  Heat capacity of ocean water: 3993 J/kg/K.
                  Heat capacity of air: 1005 J/kg/K.
                  This is the number of Joules (energy) to raise temperature 1 degree Kelvin which is the same as 1 degree Celcius.

                  --
                  And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
                  • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Friday February 02, @10:38AM (1 child)

                    by PiMuNu (3823) on Friday February 02, @10:38AM (#1342769)

                    Thanks. That's an interesting link.

                    The other ingredient, which is not discussed much there, is the heat flow coefficient from water to air. If the heat flow coefficient from water to air is 0, then the water temperature is irrelevant (most plants, animals and people live in air, not water). I guess they do think a little about convection currents in the ocean, which is related.

                    For example, one can make similar comments about the heat capacity and heat flow coefficient from rock to air - the heat capacity of planet earth is massive but I believe the actual heat flow from air to ground relatively small so it is not such a strong effect.

                    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Friday February 02, @02:26PM

                      by Reziac (2489) on Friday February 02, @02:26PM (#1342795) Homepage

                      Basically, the whole takeaway is that atmospheric anything is so insignificant there's no point in even considering it. (And then consider that CO2's effect is orders of magnitude smaller than water vapor's effect, and saturated at 300ppm anyway. So basically null.)

                      And while there's some oceanic heat of vulcanism, it's extremely constrained -- a rift here, a volcano there -- and I'd guess nothing next to absorbed heat from sunlight, which is half-of-everywhere every day. As to atmospheric, if it were significant both Hawaii and Iceland should have shown persistent plumes for the past couple years... and they haven't. Even hurricanes don't have any particular effect (Pacific hurricanes are much bigger than anything Florida ever sees, and overland hurricanes like Siberia gets are far bigger still), judging from the NOAA supercomputer output that's conveniently mirrored at nullschool.net. You have to get up into upper atmosphere to see any heat moving at all, and it's always the big high-level air currents bringing it, not piddly local stuff. Which kinda tells me there's no significant relationship to ocean heat.

                      --
                      And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
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