Perspectives of Northern Sea Route and Northwest Passage in the twenty-first century
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- Khon, V.C., Mokhov, I.I., Latif, M. et al. Climatic Change (2010) 100: 757. doi:10.1007/s10584-009-9683-2
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The ability of modern climate models to simulate ice season length in the Arctic, its recent changes and navigation season on Arctic marine routes along the Eurasian and the North American coastlines is evaluated using satellite ice cover observations for 1979–2007. Simulated mean sea ice season duration fits remarkably well to satellite observations and so do the simulated 20th century changes using historical forcing. This provides confidence to extend the analysis to projections for the twenty-first century. The navigation season for the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and Northwest Passage (NWP), alternative sea routes from the North Atlantic to Asia, will considerably increase during this century. The models predict prolongation of the season with a free passage from 3 to 6 months for the NSR and from 2 to 4 months for the NWP by the end of twenty-first century according to A1B scenario of the IPCC. This suggests that transit through the NSR from Western Europe to the Far East may be up to 15% more profitable in comparison to Suez Canal transit by the end of the twenty-first century.