A new study can conclude that ordinary ships, without ice breakers, may be able to sail through the north pole by 2050, due to rising temperatures and melting ice. The new path would be a great boon for business, but raises concerns about safety and the environment. The Science Recorder has more:
Scientists from the University of California at Los Angeles say that sailing over the North Pole may be possible by 2050 due to melting polar ice, according to a news release from UCLA. Lead researcher Laurence C. Smith, a professor of geography at UCLA, said that the development is great from an economic development point of view and concerning in terms of safety, both for the environment and the ships sailing over the North Pole.
The scientists discovered that by 2050 ordinary ships will be able to sail over the North Pole without icebreakers. An icebreaker is a ship that is designed for breaking a channel through the ice. Co-author Scott R. Stephenson, a Ph.D. candidate in the UCLA Department of Geography, noted that navigating the Arctic waters “unescorted” is “inconceivable” at the present time.
The scientists predict that polar icebreakers will be able to navigate between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans by sailing over the North Pole. This is an “entirely unexpected possibility,” according to Smith.
The scientists pointed out that the route directly over the North Pole is 20 percent shorter than today’s most-traveled Arctic shipping lane, the Northern Sea Route. For ships sailing between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Yokohama, Japan, the Northern Sea Route is already about 40 percent shorter than the traditional route through the Suez Canal.