Last week I wrote about the new Arctic nautical charts needed because of the melting of formerly (or soon-to-be-formerly) multi-year sea ice around Alaska. This week we have the latest estimate on how long we can expect to wait before some ships are regularly charging across the North Pole (in the summer anyway), from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Not long, it turns out: 2040.
ANALYSIS: Climate-Changed Coastlines Need New Maps
Researchers Laurence Smith and Scott Stephenson of the University of California at Los Angeles used seven climate models to project likely future sea ice losses and how it will change Arctic shipping from 2040 to 2059. The projections assumed a conservative (and very optimistic) medium-low increase in carbon emissions and therefore a medium-low rise in global warming.
The maps above graphically displays what they found. The quickest routes for ships to cross the Arctic Ocean by mid-century will likely be the Northwest Passage (diagonally, from middle left to lower right on the map) and over the North Pole (the bold red line across the upper part of the map). What's called the Northern Sea Route is all those blue lines across the top of the map.