Depleting ice cover to make navigation in the Arctic hazardous

November 14th, 2007 - 2:55 am ICT by admin  
They said the decreasing ice cover was making the Arctic more viable to navigation, adding that increased navigation would also make the vessels more vulnerable to sea ice and floating icebergs.

“The Arctic is already experiencing an increase in shipping, primarily for oil and gas development and tourism, and we can expect to see further increases as diminishing ice extent makes Arctic marine transportation more viable. The International Ice Charting Working Group (IICWG) cautions that sea ice and icebergs will continue to present significant hazards to navigation for the foreseeable future,” a statement released at ESRIN conference said.

It said, in September 2007, the Arctic sea ice reached the minimum extent - the lowest amount of ice recorded in the area annually - in the history of ice charting based on satellite, aircraft and surface observations.

This was a continuation of a recent trend of diminishing sea ice that began in the 1980s and which has accelerated. While there would still be natural inter-annual variability, the decline would likely to continue, the statement added.

During the last 25 years, satellites have been observing the Arctic and have witnessed reductions in the minimum ice extent at the end of summer from around 8 million sq. kms in the early 1980s to the historic minimum of less than 4.24 million sq. kms in 2007, as observed in September by ESA’s Envisat satellite.

The previous record low, as observed by Envisat and the EOS Aqua satellite, was in 2005 when the minimum ice extent was 5.5 million sq. kms.

“We have been very lucky to have had the capability to monitor the polar regions with satellites since the 1970s because it has allowed us to fully capture the trend,” said Dr Pablo Clemente-Col

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