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Artful Dodger

Icebreakers are primarily useful for keeping sea-lanes open in Fall, to guarantee Shipping/Delivery contracts. The Shipper will have to contract the Icebreaker to be on station month's in advance. I don't think Sovcomflot's IPO will be affected


Which is why I was just joking. :-P

Harvey Puca

Russia ordering 6 new icebreakers for the northern route..

"According to the news agency, Ivanov believes goods turnover at the Northern Sea Route could reach five million tons in the course of 2012. The new icebreakers are needed for the follow-up of the quickly expanding Arctic shipping."


Artful Dodger

The deep water portion of the Northern Sea Route passes to the North of the New Siberian Islands (near 165 E). So this part of the route will not be open to (non-escorted) heavy shipping for some time this year. Of course, shallow draft yachts can pass to the South, but the water is only 7-8 m deep in places.

The big difference in 2010 was that shore-fast ice remained joined to the main pack North of the Taymyr Peninsula (near 100 E) until after August 18. This year, this narrow bottleneck has been open for some time already.

Ennis George

That is an amazing surface temperature anomaly in Antarctica. Actually if the graphic is correct I think we need to invent another term for anomalies greater than 15 degrees celsius.

Angela Marchbank

Have been reading your blog with interest for a year or so and also peaked at various other sites.
I am not any kind of expert just interested however with regard to your question regarding when the Northern Sea Route and North West Passage opened up I found a paper which may be of interest. You may have already seen this of course so apologies if I am telling you something familiar.
Interannual changes in sea-ice conditions on the Arctic Sea Route
obtained by satellite microwave data
Hiroki SHIBATA, Kazutaka TATEYAMA, Hiroyuki ENOMOTO, Shuuhei TAKAHASHI
Published in the:
Annals of Glaciology 52(58) 2011


Thanks a lot, Angela! I for one never saw this paper, although we have of course discussed the various dates of opening up of the NWP and NSR last year. This is a great reference.

Thanks, Lodger, I didn't know large ships sailed North of the New Siberian Islands.

And final thanks to Harvey for the link.


The shallow water in sea of the coast of Siberia is one of many reasons, why the route will not be feasible for years to come, but the other main reason is no commercial shipping company wants to become to dependent on Russian temper and mood!

Paul Klemencic

Consider this map from Cryosphere Today site (zoom in to compare ice pack in the Laptev, Kara, and Bara seas). The fact that the "stubborn ice pack" around Severnaya Zemlya melted out very early this year, should affect the 2nd half melt season significantly. Not only is the open water in the Laptev Sea soaking up solar energy, the ice pack is already retreating back above 80N latitude. If the right weather and wind conditions exist, the pack could see a big flush into the Fram this year.

Also look the large amount of ice pack between 70N and 80N in the direction of the Beaufort, Chukchi, and East Siberian seas. Comparing 2011 to 2007, we see a lot of ice pack in the "melt zone" where much of that ice will melt off by mid-September. Same is true in the Greenland Sea, where everything below 75N should melt out.

Conclusion: Not only is 2011 ice extent rivaling 2007, but 2011 also has a lot more ice in the "target melt zones" where the ice should melt out significantly.

Seke Rob

Repost of a link someone posted a number of weeks ago:


Earliest departure ever!


Thanks for comparing the shapes of 2007 and 2011, Paul. That was food for thought.

Chris Reynolds

Paul Klemencic,

I agree. It's also worth noting the very warm waters in the exposed regions around the pack as shown in the final figure in Neven's opening post. You can view images from here:

Don't know where I've said this before but at the risk of repeating myself and stating the obvious: All around the pack is the warm open water. The rate of melt will soon fall.
But this is acting upon a roughly circular area of reducing radius.

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