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Projected increase (days) of the navigation season through the Northern Sea Route as an average of 5 ACIA model projections

The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is a seasonally ice-covered marine shipping lane along the Russian coasts, from Novaya Zemlya in the west to the Bering Strait in the east. The NSR is administered by the Russian Ministry of Transport and has been open to marine traffic of all nations since 1991. For trans-Arctic voyages, the NSR represents a saving in distance of up to 40 per cent from Northern Europe to northeastern Asia and northwestern North America, compared to southerly routes via the Suez or Panama Canals. Projected reductions in sea-ice extent are likely to improve access along the NSR. The navigation season is often defined as the number of days per year with navigable conditions, generally meaning days with less than 50 per cent sea-ice cover. For the NSR, the navigation season is projected to increase from the current 20 to 30 days per year to 90 to 100 days per year by 2080. An extended navigation season could have major implications for transportation and access to natural resources. Please note that NSR was previously known as Northeast passage.

Year: 2007

From collection: Global Outlook for Ice and Snow

Cartographer: Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal

Tags: Antarctica Arctic tundra Climate Change Indigenous Peoples polar bear

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