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Bullers Wood School, Chislehurst, Kent

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1 Bullers Wood School, Chislehurst, Kent
How does Arctic ice affect shipping and navigation and how may this change in the future? Bullers Wood School, Chislehurst, Kent Will this image be an increasingly common sight in the waters of the Arctic….? Ie despite the problems of global warming in the Arctic, could there be some benefits in terms of shipping and navigation??? Will ships loaded with containers be a common sight in 50 years time??

2 Discussion topics: Ice in the Arctic Ice and navigation
The impact of the seasons on the sea–ice Current shipping and navigation in the Arctic What would the benefits of less sea-ice be? Different opinions about shipping and navigation in the Arctic

3 Ice in the Arctic The ‘Arctic’ consists of the Arctic ocean and the land area surrounding it including parts of the Russia, Canada, Greenland and Norway For much of the year the Arctic Ocean is covered with sea-ice Ice comes in different shapes and sizes – the indigenous people have around 80 terms for the ice!!! Indicate the countries on the map above

4 Arctic Ice facts and formation (1)
Average Arctic ice thickness is over 2 metres, but it varies…. Newly formed ice: few millimetres Older ice: over 10 metres Canadian Archipelago ice: 6 – 8 metres In the winter salt water freezes at -1.8 degrees Celsius The frozen seawater floats freely in the ocean, moved by wind and water currents. It is called drift ice Large chunks of drift ice are called ice floes – and can measure up to 9.7 kilometres across When drift ice joins together it’s called pack ice The thickness of the ice is calculated "from the time it takes a radar pulse to travel from a satellite to the surface of the ice and back again" (NERC)

5 Arctic Ice facts and formation (2)
Sea ice has different stages of development, related to thickness and age. By age there are two distinctions: first year ice, and multiyear ice. First year ice: thicker than 30 centimetres but melts in the summer season   Multiyear ice: survives the summer melt, reforms and gains in thickness: 2 to 4 meters thick   2 early forming types of ice are: ‘Pancake ice’ ‘Grease ice’ The thickness of the ice is calculated "from the time it takes a radar pulse to travel from a satellite to the surface of the ice and back again" (NERC)

6 Pancake Ice Pancake ice is called this because it consists of round pieces of ice which can be quite thick Each piece of ice looks like a pancake The pancakes are formed by: flat but hard pieces of ice break off These ice pieces are made round by the action of turbulent, high energy waves Source: RGS Arctic website

7 Grease Ice Grease ice is very thin and quite soupy
It is formed by ice crystals being blown out of the water and being clumped together The reason it is called grease ice is because its consistency resembles oil slicks Source: RGS Arctic website

8 Some of the 80 types of ice…
Greenlandic/Kalaallit English Siku Sea ice Aakkarneq Current formed sea ice Qilliliaq Sea ice, with no snow on it Sikuliaq Sea ice – thin ice Maniillat Uneven, pack ice Tuaaq Sea ice connected with land Siku Ice on a lake Nutarmeq Thin ice formed in a closed crack Iluliaq Ice berg Sikup qaava Ice expanse

9 The future of Arctic Ice…
According to a NASA report (2006) about multi-year ice: “long term we find a reduction of between 6.4% and 7.8% per decade” (Dr Nghiem) (Data determined using the scatterometer on Nasa's Quikscat satellite) Source for this was a bbc article found on In one year between 2004 and 2005 the loss was massive – 14% which is the size of Turkey – but this was a massive anomaly

10 How does ice stop shipping?
Ice – particularly pack ice - stops shipping by building up in the Arctic winter months, making it impassable for ships As a result, The Northern sea-route and North West Passage, both connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is only passable during the Summer months However there may be large lumps of ice lurking beneath the waters surface These lumps are potentially problematic if one makes contact with the hull (bottom) of the ship….. There could be a torn hull, The propeller may get damaged The ship may sink (we have all seen the film ‘Titanic’) all the cargo will get scattered and any crew may drown great loss in financial terms Mention that the Northern sea-route and North-west passage will be located later. Verbally link to the environmental cost of lost cargo and sinking ships.

11 What impact do the seasons have on sea ice?
During the winter months the Arctic is tilted away from the Sun and therefore receives little heat, light or radiation This means sea-ice builds up in the colder months, as the temperature is below the freezing point of water In the Arctic Summer the area is subjected to 24 hour daylight, causing the sea-ice to break apart and melt Global Warming has meant the melting of sea-ice has increased due to the increase of the atmospheric temperature

12 Annual Growth and Retreat of
the Polar Ice packs.

13 How do the seasons affect Shipping in the Arctic?
Between late June / early July and early August the North Pole is titled towards the Sun During this summer period, the Arctic is constantly being bathed in the Sun’s heat, causing the ice to melt and the seas to flow more freely As a result, between August and early October, ships could potentially pass through the Arctic Ocean because most hidden ice has melted leaving a safer route – largely ice free However, as yet, the ice free period is not long enough to make use of the Arctic for commercial shipping a realistic financial option Time lag between the period when the north pole receives most heat from the sun and when the ice has melted because there is a time lag during which the water heats up (it does not happen instantaneously!).

14 Current Navigation and Shipping in the Arctic
Despite the dangers, shipping and navigation does happen in the Arctic Ocean. Even in Winter months!! Shipping is assisted by: Ice-breakers Ice-navigators Refer to each of the photos when you introduce the ice-breakers and ice-navigators

15 Ice-Breakers Ice-breaker ships are used to break the ice in the Arctic so that ships can get through the Arctic safely Icebreaker features: They are very heavy They have sloping bows The bow is heavily re-inforced They are very powerful The icebreaker's bow passes over and on top of the ice at speed The bow then forces down heavily on the ice, breaking it up As the ice-breaker moves forward, this leaves an ice free channel through the ice-pack MUST mention that the ice-breakers work this way to take advantage of gravity. Heavy bow of ship creates heavy downward force on the ice due to gravity

16 Ice Navigators Ice navigators work on ice breakers or on ice class ships They help and advise the captain when they are crossing through the Arctic Their information comes from maps and satellites, such as Radarsat – 1 and MODIS When an Ice Navigator is on the ship there are many things they have to endure such as: Hypothermia Stress Darkness Frostbite Ice on the ship See the ice navigator’s story on

17 Current Navigation in the Arctic
There are 2 shipping routes through the Arctic which connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans: The Northwest passage through the Canadian archipelago The Northern Sea route which follows the coastline of Norway, Russia and Japan Both routes enter the Pacific Ocean through the Bering Straits Arrows appear for each of the countries mentioned

18 The Northern Sea Route The Northern Sea route provides more economic benefit than the North west passage It is an easier and shorter route It also provides access to oil fields in the Arctic The Northern sea route is ice free for 8 weeks but with ice-breaker assistance, ice-strengthened vessels can sail during winter The route is used primarily by Russia who also claim jurisdiction over the waters Russia can therefore control access and useage of the route

19 The Northwest Passage The passage is ‘open’ from July to October
But it is navigable for ships for only 4 – 6 weeks each summer 2007: clear of ice for first time since records began (30 years ago) according to the European Space Agency Currently Canada claims full rights over the parts of the route that pass through its territory This is disputed by the EU and the USA who argue that it should be an international strait If Canada ‘owns’ the passage it then they could make it expensive for vessels of other nationalities to use the waters and they can ‘control’ what passes through it

20 What would be the benefits of less sea ice?
Between 1972 and 1990 the ice extent in the summer prevented major commercial use of either 2 routes through the Arctic The projected ice extent in 2030 would allow much greater use of the Arctic ocean Commercial activities: Container shipping Oil and gas exploration Tourism Indicate the 2030 ice extent – shown as animated arrow STRESS that these could be the POTENTIAL benefits of less sea-ice!!!

21 Container shipping (1) Economies and consumers in Europe and North America depend on goods made in Asia – especially China The majority of goods found on the UK high street were made in Asia. They are shipped from production sites in Asia to markets in North America and Europe in containers. WE rely on the transport of containers Stress the link to globalisation from your studies. Try to explain why this is so….

22 Container shipping (2) Using containers on large vessels makes the transport cost per item much cheaper due to economies of scale However, the economic and environmental cost of transport increases with increased distance and delays to the transit….. Stress the link to globalisation from your studies. Try to explain why this is so….

23 Container shipping route
Containers are currently shipped from Asia to Europe via Singapore, the Indian Ocean, the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea This general route is followed by all container shipping companies This shipping route map is from a company called Maersk – the largest container shipping company in the world

24 The Suez Canal and the Northern Sea Route
The Northern Sea Route goes to the North of Eurasia through the Arctic and South to Europe This would save time and resources The Suez Canal Route is longer and there are potential delays in congested Asian ports and the Suez canal Indicate where it passes through the Suez canal. Congested Asian ports could be Singapore or Hong Kong

25 A New route option? (1) Using the Northern sea route would reduce journey lengths by 10 days. (from North Asia to Northwestern Europe) Ships currently travel miles from Japan to Europe via the Suez Canal but if they use the northern sea route it would be 5570 miles. A reduction of 7270 miles (source: Jerome Varny, “Container shipping on the Northern sea-route”)

26 A New Route option? (2) Commercial use of the Northern sea route or Northwest Passage might be a very tiny benefit of global warming. Reduced distance means reduced fuel consumption Billions of dollars in transportation costs could be saved each year, potentially making goods in shops cheaper for consumers Reduced fuel useage means less fossil fuels are being burnt to create energy. In turn this reduces the amount of CO2 being released into our atmosphere, potentially reducing the contribution of shipping to the enhanced greenhouse effect Link to map

27 Oil and Gas supply benefits? (1)
With the increase in Global Warming the Arctic Sea Ice is melting in greater quantities This means that there is easier access to the sea-bed below Russia has staked a claim on the sea-bed beneath the ice possibly due to the potential of oil / gas reserves Russia was so keen to stake their claim that a Russian submarine was in fact able to break through under the ice to plant a flag 2 miles beneath the surface of the ice.

28 Oil and Gas Supply benefits? (2)
The dark patches on the map show oil/gas reserves. In the Arctic sea ice and surrounding area there is 90 billion barrels of oil This is enough to supply the world for three years at current consumption rates This would be a massive benefit for the world because known reserves are running out Say if needed: or to supply America for 12, and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of gas, which is equal to about a third of the world's known gas reserves. Indicate where the oil / gas reserves are on the map

29 Oil and Gas Supply benefits? (3)
Oil produced in Alaska could move quickly by ship to eastern North American and European markets. The vast mineral resources of the Canadian North will be much easier and economical to develop. This opportunity for fast and cheap shipping between the Atlantic and Pacific is one of just a very small number of benefits that global warming might produce.

30 Tourism Benefits? Tourism may increase in the Arctic because :
bigger ships can now travel round the Arctic, meaning more people There will be more ports to stop off at to make the tourist’s trip more exciting The tourists will have a chance to see the Arctic wildlife in their natural habitat. However, with less sea ice there is a smaller area of ice habitat for animals This change to the natural ecosystem may mean that fewer tourists will want to visit

31 Opinions about increased use of the Arctic for shipping
Arctic Council an expected increase in shipping threatens to: introduce invasive species, harm existing marine wildlife through collisions lead to damaging oil spills Seabirds and polar bear and seal pups are particularly sensitive to oil and can quickly die of hypothermia if it gets into their feathers or fur Whales, as well as walruses and seals, can have a harder time communicating, foraging and avoiding prey in noisy waters. “the Arctic marine environment is especially vulnerable to potential impacts from marine activity,” according to a recent report from the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum of Arctic nations. (

32 Opinions about increased use of the Arctic for shipping
Pablo Clemente-Colón (chief scientist at the National Ice Centre): the open water in the passages over Russia, particularly, remains clotted with thick, dangerous floes and can also close up in a matter of hours. Insurance companies will be reluctant to insure large commercial vessels due to the ice related risks Container shipping companies will still prefer the longer Suez canal route due to the existing infrastructure (ports etc) and the difficulties of replicating them in the Arctic

33 Our Opinion…… At present the potential ice risks will make commercial shipping use of the Arctic too dangerous (we don’t want another Titanic!!) The environmental risks of shipping are too great to make use of the Arctic for shipping on a regular basis We need to protect rare species of wildlife such as: Polar bears Walruses Exploitation of oil and gas reserves will lead to much environmental degradation

34 Our Opinion……. Use of the Arctic could create lots of geo-political conflict over the use of resources However, it does seem inevitable that the Arctic ocean will become increasingly used as global warming results in less sea-ice…. Therefore it MUST be controlled by a global organisation

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