Sunday, 15 July 2012

Ice free Arctic ?

Image: Alaska Dispatch
On June 21st, The Alaska Dispatch reported that Capt. Stephen Carmel, senior vice president for Maersk Line, Limited "pooh-poohed" the notion of a sea lane over the Arctic.
The unpredictability of polar ice today makes the Arctic too big a gamble for large shippers, he said, and that doesn't look likely to change.
What stands in the way of Arctic shipping today, he said in an interview with Alaska Dispatch, is the structure of the "global supply chain." Manufacturers and businesses of all sorts have streamlined to hold down costs by reducing inventories. As a result, on-time shipping has become a paramount concern.
"Time always matters," Carmel said, "but predictability these days is more important."
Shippers can't afford to be knocked off schedule by shifting ice or fog in the Arctic, he said, and both are potential problems.
A month later, the Alaska Dispatch  is reporting that two supply ships are stuck in the mouth of Frobisher Bay, an inlet of the Labrador Sea, because of "brutal sea ice conditions."
In June, winds and currents pushed heavy ice in to the area, CBC News reported on Wednesday.
Now, two Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers are trying to punch a path through for the resupply vessels. However, the ice is so thick that it’s closing in around the icebreakers before the other ships can follow.
"Thirty miles of heavy ice to get to Pike Risser channel. And from Iqaluit you can see out your window … basically open water, but it's ice out of Pike Risser channel. Outside of that, that is where the heavy ice is," said Andy Maillet of the Coast Guard's Arctic Operations Centre.

h/t Climate Depot