Melting ice, growing trade?

Sami Bensassi, Julienne C. Stroeve, Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso, Andrew P. Barrett

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)
    214 Downloads (Pure)


    Large reductions in Arctic sea ice, most notably in summer, coupled with growing interest in Arctic shipping and resource exploitation have renewed interest in the economic potential of the Northern Sea Route (NSR). Two key constraints on the future viability of the NSR pertain to bathymetry and the future evolution of the sea ice cover. Climate model projections of future sea ice conditions throughout the rest of the century suggest that even under the most “aggressive” emission scenario, increases in international trade between Europe and Asia will be very low. The large inter-annual variability of weather and sea ice conditions in the route, the Russian toll imposed for transiting the NSR, together with high insurance costs and scarce loading/unloading opportunities, limit the use of the NSR. We show that even if these obstacles are removed, the duration of the opening of the NSR over the course of the century is not long enough to offer a consequent boost to international trade at the macroeconomic level.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number000107
    JournalElementa: Science of the Anthropocene
    Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2016

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Atmospheric Science
    • Geology
    • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
    • Oceanography
    • Ecology
    • Environmental Engineering


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