Driven by an ever increasing global demand for commodities like energy and mining products, and the continuing shrinkage of Arctic summer sea ice, ship traffic is likely grow significantly over the next few decades -- a trend that will increase the pressure on this relatively pristine area.
Two major Arctic routes are increasingly navigable in the summer:
- The Northwest Passage (Canada) would save two weeks in travelling time versus the Panama Canal.
- the Northern Sea Route (Russia) is already in use by commercial ships.
Although the routes will not be open year round, companies are already investing billions of dollars in tankers capable of going through ice.