Projected shipping lanes through the Arctic for 2040-59
Projected shipping lanes through the Arctic for 2040-59
New Arctic shipping lanes (click for details)

The fastest navigation routes for ships seeking to cross the Arctic Ocean by mid-century include the Northwest Passage (on the left) and over the North Pole (center), in addition to the Northern Sea Route (on the right).

UCLA researchers arrived at these projections by studying sea ice forecasts from seven climate models for the years 2040 to 2059. The projections assume a medium-low increase in carbon emissions and corresponding medium-low rise in global warming.

Red lines indicate the fastest available trans-Arctic routes for Polar Class 6 ships (moderate-capability icebreakers such as those used today in the Baltic), and blue lines indicate the fastest available routes for common open-water ships. Where overlap occurs, line weights indicate the number of successful transits following the same route. Dashed lines reflect currently existing sovereignty boundaries. The white backdrop indicates period-averaged sea ice concentration.

(Courtesy of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

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