Research highlight

Access to the Arctic

Nature Climate Change

May 30, 2011

By 2050 Arctic states could suffer 11 to 82 per cent decline in the land area accessible by winter roads, but will benefit from faster sea travel during the summer months, with an estimated increase in maritime-accessible ocean area of 5 to 28 per cent. The findings, published online in Nature Climate Change, offer quantitative estimates of the extent that transport might change in the Arctic, providing a basis for planning and adaptation of human activity.

Scott Stephenson and colleagues present a new modelling framework to quantify changing access to oceans and landscapes northward of 40 degrees N by mid-century. They project that the North Sea Route, Arctic Bridge and North Pole shipping routes will become fully accessible from July to September by mid-century, with transport times averaging about 11, 15 and 16 days, respectively.

doi: 10.1038/nclimate1120

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