Saturday, September 15, 2007

Opening of the Northwest Passage

In a startling piece of news BBCNews reports in 'Warming opens Northwest Passage' how the once fabled sea route, the Northwest Passage, a short cut from Europe to Asia through the Canadian Arctic, is now open to shipping for the first time since such records began, due to global warming. Now, you might think - 'what has this to do with mobilities?'. Well, these days little is moving faster than global climate change! And more importantly, just read below how much has moved!:

The most direct shipping route from Europe to Asia is fully clear of ice for the first time since records began, the European Space Agency (Esa) says. Historically, the Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans has been ice-bound through the year. But the agency says ice cover has been steadily shrinking, and this summer's reduction has made the route navigable.

The findings, based on satellite images, raised concerns about the speed of global warming. Recent years have seen a marked shrinkage in its ice cover, but this year it was extreme, Esa says. It says this made the passage "fully navigable" for the first time since monitoring began in 1978.

"We have seen the ice-covered area drop to just around 3m sq km (1,2 sq miles)," Leif Toudal Pedersen of the Danish National Space Centre said. He said it was "about 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles) less than the previous minima of 2005 and 2006".

"There has been a reduction of the ice cover over the last 10 years of about 100, 000 sq km (38,600 sq miles) per year on average, so a drop of 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles) in just one year is extreme," Mr Pedersen said.

A drop of 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles) in just one year??? that's one year's drop in what previously took 10 years.... now that is exponential shifts...


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