NEWS: Log of 1912 Arctic Expedition Found
The Northeast Passage was finally traversed in its entirety, from west to east, by Finnish-Swedish explorer Adolf-Erik Nordenskjold, in 1878. In 1915, a Russian expedition made the journey from east to west; in 1935, the Soviet Union officially delineated the Northern Sea Route and opened it for commercial business.
For the Soviet Union, and subsequently for Russia, the Northern Sea Route has promised much in terms of convenience and wealth. It is the only waterway that lies entirely within national boundaries, and short stretches of it have long been used for internal shipping routes. But even with the existence of increasingly powerful icebreakers, the entirety of the route is navigable for only a short period each year. That, however, is changing.
A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that, as a result of climate change, the Northern Sea Route was likely to become largely or completely navigable by mid-century at latest. That would provide a substantial shortcut for vessels traveling from Asia to Europe, being perhaps 7,000 km and 12-15 days shorter than the equivalent journey through the Suez Canal.