Arctic Ice Melt Ups Fears, Opens New Shipping Lanes
The Arctic Ocean’s ice cover is shrinking at a record pace this year after higher-than-average temperatures hastened the annual break-up of the sea ice. The area of ocean covered by ice shrank to 1.9 million square miles on average for a 5-day period, according to the latest data from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. With as many as five weeks of the annual melt season left, it’s already the fourth-lowest annual minimum ever measured.
The shrinkage is the most visible sign of global warming according to Meier, and raises the prospect that the Arctic Ocean may become largely ice free in the summer. That opens up new shipping routes and is sparking a race for resources that’s led to Cairn Energy PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC exploring waters off Greenland for oil and gas.