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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Arctic Sea News

The Venta Maersk loads containers in Vladivostok, Russia ahead of its Arctic voyage (© Sergei Skriabin / MarineTraffic.com)

Maersk Sends First Containership through the Arctic

A Maersk vessel loaded with Russian fish and South Korean electronics will next week become the first containership to navigate an Arctic sea route that Russia hopes will become a new shipping highway.The Arctic voyage by the 3,600 20-foot container capacity Venta Maersk is the latest step in the expansion of the so-called Northern Sea Route which is becoming more accessible to ships as climate change reduces the amount of sea ice.The brand new Venta Maersk, one of the world's largest ice-class vessels…

Sea ice along the east coast of Banks Island in the western Canadian Arctic. Photo credit: UVic researcher William Halliday, a co-author of the new study led by UVic marine biologist Lauren McWhinnie.

Study Calls to Reduce Ship Speed for Arctic

In the Arctic, marine mammals such as belugas and bowhead whales rely on a quiet environment to communicate and forage. But as Arctic sea ice shrinks and shipping traffic increases, vessel disturbance could very likely impact their social behaviours, distribution and long-term survival, warns a new study led by University of Victoria marine biologist Lauren McWhinnie. Published in the peer-reviewed journal Ocean and Coastal Management, the study calls for precautionary measures…

The wind has opened a lead between ice floes. As the white streaks reveal, the water surface is freezing again immediately. The streaks occur when the wind drifts loose ice crystals. Photo IceCamStefan Hendricks, Alfred-Weg

AWI to Track Carbon Particles in the Arctic

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team of researchers will spend the next four weeks studying how the Arctic is changing. In the course of the PAMARCMiP campaign they will measure the sea ice and the atmosphere between Greenland and Svalbard – on the ground, using a tethered balloon, and from the air. Their primary target: carbon particles. Historically, Greenland isn’t exactly considered to be prone to wildfires.

Left: Ice-Breaking LNG Carrier Vladimir Rusanov, Right: Yamal LNG Project Trading Routes. Photo: MOL

Ice-Breaking LNG Carrier for Yamal LNG Project Named Vladimir Rusanov

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) announced that on December 21, a naming ceremony for an ice-breaking LNG carrier, which was jointly ordered by MOL and China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited (China COSCO Shipping), was held at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering  (DSME). As a crowd of VIPs and personnel related to the project looked on, the newbuilding vessel was named the "Vladimir Rusanov" by Ms. Veronika Makeeva of PAO Novatek, the major shareholder of the Yamal LNG project. The name is derived from Russian Arctic explorer and geologist.

File Photo: Hyundai Merchant Marine

HMM to Launch Arctic Sea Service

South Korea’s leading container carrier Hyundai Merchant Marine Co (HMM) is considering launching a regular liner service via the Arctic Sea, a move that could cut transits between Asia and Europe considerably, reported Pulse. South Korea’s largest ocean carrier is considering a trial operation from as early as 2020. A number of local logistics companies have ventured into the Arctic routes, but did not last due to lack of ships and crew expertise to navigate against the ice-packed waters.

A May 21, 2016 satellite view of the Beaufort Sea off the coast of Alaska and Canada shows highly fragmented sea ice. Source: LANCE System/NASA/GSFC via National Snow and Ice Data Center

Arctic Sea Ice Sheds Weight in May

Arctic sea ice hit a record low in May 2016 as scientists discovered the first-ever link between melting ice in Greenland and a phenomenon known to warm the area faster than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, sea ice extent across the Arctic was 4.63 million square miles, which was an astonishing 224,000 square miles below the previous record low for the month of May, set in 2004. Data published…

The measured sea ice extent over 2016, compared to the 1981-2010 average and 2012, when the record low for sea ice minimum extent was set. Graph: National Snow and Ice Data Center

Arctic Could Be Ice-Free for First Time in 100000 Years

For the first time in 100,000 years the chilling landscape of Arctic known for its snow-capped mountains and polar bears may be without its sea ice either this year or the next. Cambridge University Professor Peter Wadhams has made headlines this weekend, telling The Independent that the Arctic could become ice-free “this year or next,” says a report in Atlas Obscura. While the extreme prediction has drawn skepticism from other climate scientists, Wadhams’ warning does draw attention to a situation that many monitoring Arctic sea ice find alarming.

Image: China's Maritime Safety Administration

China to Use Arctic Shipping Route

China plans to make use of Arctic sea route for its shipping to shorten the distance by 30 per cent compared to the ocean passages traditionally used to connect the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans through Panama Canal. Chinese ships will navigate the Arctic via a Northwest Passage route that will be 30 per cent shorter than the ocean passages, official media here reported. “Once this route is commonly used, it will directly change global maritime transportation and have a profound influence on international trade…

Photo Credit: NASA/Operation Ice Bridge

Arctic Sea Ice at Alrmingly Lower Level

Low Arctic sea ice extent for March caps a highly unusual winter in the Arctic, says the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC). In March, Arctic sea ice extent fell to its second lowest extent since 1981 — as did the overall Arctic sea ice extent for 2106. The decline of Arctic sea ice is already setting records in 2016, with the winter peak in March clocking in as the lowest since satellite records began, scientists say. Low Arctic sea ice extent for March caps a highly unusual winter in the Arctic, characterized by persistent warmth in the atmosphere that helped to limit ice growth.

ABS, COSCO Partner on Arctic Shipping Development

Facing changing climate conditions in the Arctic which have effectively generated new opportunities shipping in the region, classification society ABS and commercial shipper China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO) have signed a cooperation agreement aiming to enhave trans-Arctic shipping development. Signing the agreement in Shanghai were ABS Greater China Division President and COO Eric Kleess and Captain Meijiang Cai, Director of COSCO Safety & Technology Supervision Division.

Observations of floating anthropogenic litter in the Barents Sea and Fram Strait, Arctic.

Plastic Litter Sea Surface, Even in Arctic

In a new study, researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) show for the first time that marine litter can even be found at the sea surface of Arctic waters. Though it remains unclear how the litter made it so far north, it is likely to pose new problems for local marine life, the authors report on the online portal of the scientific journal Polar Biology. Plastic has already been reported from stomachs of resident seabirds and Greenland sharks.

Photo: Inhabitat

Arctic Ice 'Too Thick' for Shipping Route

Sea ice in the Arctic is still too thick for Northwest Passage commercial shipping route in spite of warming temperatures. This is according to new research from York University. Despite climate change, Arctic sea ice remains too thick and treacherous, says the study, “Ice Thickness in the Northwest Passage,” published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters on September 25, 2015. Scientists with York University carried out electromagnetic ice thickness surveys during April and May in 2011 and 2015 to measure the thickness of sea ice over the Northwest Passage — “a system of gulfs…

Eight countries of the Arctic Council (AC), form the Arctic Coast Guard Forum (AFBO)

AFBO to Provide Security in Arctic Waters

State of the Arctic Council to establish a new mechanism to strengthen operational cooperation and coordination of activities at sea. This is dictated by the need to provide security in the Arctic waters. The eight countries of the Arctic Council (AC), form the Arctic Coast Guard Forum (AFBO), the chief of the press service of the US Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander (captain of the third rank), Dave French. It is a joint initiative of the countries have common interests in the Arctic.

Putin's geopolitical interests of Russia are connected with the Arctic. Photo by Arctic Ecology Commitee

Russia Claims Ownership of the Arctic and North Pole

Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin, has re-submitted its petition to the United Nations claiming exclusive control over 1.2 million square kms (463,000 square miles) of the Arctic sea shelf, based this time on what its foreign ministry calls “ample scientific data”, reports CSM and Reuters. Rich in natural resources, the Arctic is a potential arena for the clash of geopolitical interests of the Arctic states. This is the second time Russia has staked its claim to what it sees as its territory. Earlier in 2002, the UN rejected the bid on lack of evidence.

Polar bear Photo WWF

U.S. Draft Recovery Plan for Threatened Polar Bears

U.S. wildlife managers released on Thursday a draft plan for stemming the decline of polar bears threatened by melting Arctic sea ice linked to global warming, but the proposal hinges on reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that are far from assured. Under a plan to be officially submitted on Monday for public comment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is urging cutbacks in carbon dioxide and other atmospheric pollutants generated by the burning of fossil fuels. The draft proposal…

Photo: NASA

Arctic Sea Ice Decline

Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is at its lowest May level since records began in the 1980s, says Al Jazeera. The lowest levels in the history of Arctic sea ice observation for this time of year and likely the lowest levels for hundreds, even thousands of years. The problem is not just one of a new record low. It’s one of timing and divergence. Accelerated melt in the May-to-June time-frame can have serious impacts on late season ice. The reason is that greatly reduced ice coverage also reduces albedo or reflectivity.

Naval EXPO Coming to Washington

For the first time ever, the general public will be admitted free to the Naval Future Force Science and Technology EXPO general exhibit hall Feb. 4-5 where they will be able to see the Electromagnetic Railgun, an autonomous swarmboat, a firefighting robot and much more. Held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., the EXPO is the Navy's premiere science and technology (S&T) event, held every two years to showcase some of the Navy's latest technologies and bring together the brightest minds from around the world to share information…

The robot submarine ready for launch from an icebreaker offshore Antarctica.

Thickness of Antarctic Sea Ice Surpass Expectations

Antarctica's ice paradox has yet another puzzling layer. Not only is the amount of sea ice increasing each year, but an underwater robot now shows the ice is also much thicker than was previously thought, a new study reports. The discovery adds to the ongoing mystery of Antarctica's expanding sea ice. According to climate models, the region's sea ice should be shrinking each year because of global warming. Instead, satellite observations show the ice is expanding, and the continent's sea ice has set new records for the past three winters.

Arctic navigation: File photo

Arctic Shipping Routes: P&I Insurance FAQs

The UK P&I Club has compiled an FAQ which focuses on the implications for P&I insurance of choosing to use the Northern Sea Route. The Northern Sea Route (NSR), or North East Passage, runs along the Russian coast from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, and Chukchi Seas, having the potential to significantly shorten voyage times between European and Far Eastern ports. The exact routing is variable and depends on the time of the year, ice conditions, and the size and draft of the ship in question.

Frontispiece image credit IPCC

Northern Sea Route Usable 125 Days by 2050: New Report

The recently released Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report – ' Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability' – finds that the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans. It also underlines that the prediction of ice-free periods in the Arctic Ocean is generally underestimated. Shipping from major European ports to Shanghai is some 40 percent shorter via the Northern Sea Route compared with the Suez Canal.

Photo in public domain

Classification Society BV Sharpens Ice Tools

Bureau Veritas has responded to demand for safe LNG transportation in the Arctic regions by developing new high-level tools to assess cargo sloshing in ice conditions. It has also developed a cutting-edge probabilistic method for assessing ice loads on structure which will reduce the time and data needed to assess the structure of vessels and units designed for heavy ice operation. Pierre Besse, Director of Innovation, Bureau Veritas, says, “All eyes are on the Arctic sea routes and on the opening up of the Arctic mineral and energy resources.

IMO Secretary General Koji Sekimizu (Photo: IMO)

IMO Secretary-General to Make Arctic Voyage

IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu departs later this week (Thursday, August 15) on a five-day Arctic sea voyage as part of a fact-finding mission to the region. Mr. Sekimizu will be the guest of the government of the Russia aboard the nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy as she voyages on the Northern Sea Route that links Europe and northern Russia. Mr. Sekimizu will commence his voyage from the port of Dikson, in the Kara Sea, before undertaking a 1,680 nm trip to Pevek, in the East Siberian Sea.

Arctic Summer Ice: Photo courtesy of NOAA

Arctic Council Taking Regional Development Reins

What was once a small group meeting to discuss scientific & technical cooperation has grown into a forum in which legally binding agreements between states are brokered. In the 16 years since the creation of the Arctic Council, both the physical environment of the Arctic and the level of international attention paid to this once-obscure forum have changed dramatically. At the Council's latest meeting in mid-May, in Kiruna, Sweden, ministers added new international observers, bolstered the Council's governance capacity and agreed on a common vision for the next 16 years…

Arctic Economic Potential: Scholarly Briefing Published

The need for a comprehensive and risk-aware understanding of Arctic dynamics before proceding with development is emphasised in a recent research paper. The melting of the Arctic is expected to offer prospects for maritime transport and hydrocarbon exploitation that could potentially create an Arctic economic boom. In principle, more accessible Arctic sea routes could offer substantial savings in logistics between Asian, American and European markets when compared to the current global maritime trade routes via the Panama and Suez Canals.

Arctic Summers Possibly Ice-free Within Twenty Years

"It’s not a question of 'if' there will be nearly ice-free summers, but 'when,' say two NOAA scientists. James Overland of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and Muyin Wang of the NOAA Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington, consider that the Arctic summers will be ice free before 2050 and possibly within the next decade or two. The two scientists looked at three methods of predicting when the Arctic will be nearly ice…

ICS Sets out Future For Arctic Shipping

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which represents over 80% of the world merchant fleet, has issued a new position paper on Arctic shipping. As the Arctic becomes more accessible, ICS has set out some key principles with regard to the future governance of Arctic waters. Offshore support vessel activity is already significant, while destination shipping is anticipated to grow as the extraction of energy and raw materials is developed. Use of the Northern Sea Route is also a reality for a small but increasing number of ships in the summer months.