Icebreaker-free navigation period getting longer in Arctic

MOSCOW, August 6 (Itar-Tass) —— The Arctic is getting warmer in a faster pace that it was expected and the period of icebreaker-free navigation is no longer, according to the study of the ice cover conducted by the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute of the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environment Monitoring.

“Currently, the North Pole’s ice areas have reduced to their minimum registed in 2007,” Valery Martyshchenko, the head of the service’s environment pollution monitoring department, told Itar-Tass. “In 2011, like in 2007, Arctic navigation conditions are very favourable. By early August, navigation can be done without icebreakers almost along the entire route.”

“It nevertheless does not mean that the weather next year will be still warmer,” Martyshchenko noted. “No two years are the same. But the tendency is quite obvious – the period of icebreaker-free navigation is expanding.” In his words, it is beneficial for the regions located in the Arctic area, which have little time in summer to procure reserves, first of all foods and oil products, for the long winter.

However, Martyshchenko went on, the warming of the climate poses new threats, such as melting of ice and forming of icebergs, which, in their turn, complicate navigation and might threaten drilling platforms. “Plus all other things characteristic of open seas – storms, big waves, etc.,” he said.

In any case, he stressed, it is too early to send the icebreaker fleet to resignation. “Heavy frosts have always been and will stay here – the North is the North,” he added.

According to the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, the current ice cover in the Arctic Ocean is 6,860 million square kilometers, or much less than the average. Thus, the ice cover in the south-east section of the Kara Sea is by 56 percent inferior to the average yearly level, in the Laptev Sea – by 40 percent, and in the Chukchee Sea – by 35 percent.

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