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Accessibility - Arctic Climate Change,
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Information on:

 The current status of Arctic sea ice



One of the possible Arctic seaways, the Northern Sea Route (NSR), came into focus of the western marine transport industry and governments in 1988, when the Russian President Gorbachov declared the NSR open for international shipping. The reason for the attraction is that the journey is 40% shorter in distance between Europe and East Asia when compared with the Suez Canal Route- as well as the possibility it provided of shipping hydrocarbons and other resources out of the Arctic to market. This message stipulated European researchers in the 1990's to investigate the commercial, technical and environmental implications of shipping in the Arctic. The results showed that Arctic shipping was technically feasible due to icebreaker support but not economically justified.            

 Due to the effect of Climate Change over the last ten years the ice conditions – thickness and coverage of first–year ice and the extent of multi-year ice – have been reduced by about 50 %.  




This new situation has stimulated the European shipping companies Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S in Copenhagen and Beluga in Bremen to use the Northern Sea Route in the last two years  to transport cargo from Europe to East Asia and vice versa. There is also growing interest by the tourism industry in using Arctic waters for carrying tourists to Arctic sites along the Northwest and the Northeast Passage.

The reduced ice conditions in the Arctic and the initial activities of European Shipping companies in using the new seaway between Europe and East Asia as well as shipping resources out of the Arctic are the reasons for ACCESS to investigate and define the necessary actions for a broader implementation of Marine Transportation and Tourism in the Arctic with respect to economic opportunities and the protection of the sensitive environment.



 The objectives of the work package dedicated to Marine Transport and Tourism  can be summarized by the following topics:

  • Impact of Climate Change on Arctic Shipping
  • Rules and Regulations for Marine Arctic Transport in view of changing ice conditions
  • Infrastructure needs for increased shipping
  •  Pollution in the Arctic Ocean by increased shipping
  • Improvements of safety and economy by Arctic shipping
  • Socio-economic aspects of Arctic transport and tourism
  • Arctic shipping governance under climate change conditions

- 12/04/12