Melting Ice Opens Arctic to Trade, But US Lags

Climate change opens north to shipping, tourism, resource development
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2009 5:34 PM CDT
Melting Ice Opens Arctic to Trade, But US Lags
The Arctic Ocean gave up tens of thousands more square miles of ice Sunday in a relentless summer of melt, as scientists watched through satellite eyes for a possible record low polar ice cap.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Climate change is melting away the main barrier to business in the Arctic—ice—but the US lags behind other countries seeking to exploit the region, the Anchorage Daily News reports. As receding ice opens the area to shipping, resource exploitation, and tourism, it's Russia and Canada who have established transport rules and studied the ocean floor. "It's like the new Strait of Gibraltar," says a Coast Guard captain of the Bering Strait.

"As the ice retreats, the people advance," says Capt. Michael Terminel, whose company builds Arctic ships. "We just don't know what's there." Which may be the rub: While one German company recently cut 3,300 nautical miles off a voyage by traveling through the Arctic, and avoiding the Suez Canal, unpredictable weather and remaining ice could ultimately scare off shipping companies. (Read more climate change stories.)

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