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Thread: Global warming: new opportunities for the Northern Sea Route

  1. #1 Global warming: new opportunities for the Northern Sea Route 
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    The Northern Sea Route is a sea-lane running north ofRussia and it connects the Atlantic with the Pacific ocean. In the past theNorthern Sea Route was difficult to pass through, but in recent years, thanksto the effects of global warming the potential of the route has emerged interms of its use for commercial shipping.


    The Northern Sea Route significantly reduces sailingtime, fuel costs and lowers the risk of encountering pirates. According toexperts, the Arctic holds billions of tons of oil and trillions of cubic metersof gas, one third of the world’s total oil and gas reserves. Arctic countriescould receive an economic boost, especially Russia. Russia is well prepared tomake the Northern Sea Route an attractive alternative to the Suez Canal.

    There are manyissues that must be resolved ahead of the commercial utilization of theNorthern Sea Route. The vast reserves of oil and natural gas in the Arctic ledto territorial disputes between Arctic countries. Environmental organizationsare worried over tanker traffic and resource drilling. In the future north polecruises for tourists on icebreakers could be over, because of the increase ofshipping, this issue is of minor importance.

    According to some estimates, it can take severaldecades before the ice caps have melted enough for intensive commercialutilization of the Northern Sea Route. In the future the Northern Sea Routecould become an important shipping lane that can rival the Suez-canal route.


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    Even in the warmest scenarios the Northern Sea route will still be blocked by significant ice most of the year.

    Have you seen any credible estimates of savings from just a couple reliable months of sea travel?


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    This item gives a bit of an overview. I'm inclined to think it overstates the case a bit.

    The Arctic Institute - Center for Circumpolar Security Studies

    On the other hand, if a couple of catamarans can again go right around the Arctic in each of the next few summers, there will be opportunities. The simple notion of a predictably available shortcut (7 days less sailing time) even for just a few weeks a year would be pretty attractive to many shipping companies.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Over the ice or under?

    Either cargo carrying submarine or surface-effect, i.e. "hovercraft" might be viable alternatives to icebreakers, etc. if ice free conditions were unavailable. In the case of hovercraft, the bigger they are, the better they work, plus they have limited amphibious capability and are unaffected by permafrost.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Angler View Post
    Over the ice or under?

    Either cargo carrying submarine or surface-effect, i.e. "hovercraft" might be viable alternatives to icebreakers, etc. if ice free conditions were unavailable. In the case of hovercraft, the bigger they are, the better they work, plus they have limited amphibious capability and are unaffected by permafrost.
    And enormously expensive to operate compared to standard ships.
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    And noisy as hell, to boot. Very well, subs it is. Make mine whole wheat with spinach instead of lettuce and pepper jack cheese.
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    Why? the conversation is on surface shipping through a hypothetical ice free passage in the Arctic thus both subs ad hovercraft are rather irrelevant.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

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    If we get to the point where we're considering hovercraft and submarines for shipping, then we might as well just bring back zeppelins and make sea transport irrelevant.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    If we get to the point where we're considering hovercraft and submarines for shipping, then we might as well just bring back zeppelins and make sea transport irrelevant.
    Why? We already have air transport capacity- as dearly as I love zeppelins for sentimental reasons, they seem unjustified under the circumstances for practical ones. And as paleo points out, old-fashioned surface vessels are a perfectly pragmatic solution much of the time.
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    An advantage of submarine vessels is immunity to storms, freak waves, and of course, obstruction by ice. Compared to other vehicles they are particularly suited to nuclear propulsion and may be of considerable utility in tapping otherwise inaccessible submarine mineral deposits. As continental sources of ore become used up, and in the absence of extraterrestrial minerals being harvested, this seems an inevitable development.
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    An advantage of submarine vessels is ........
    The main dis-advantage of submarines is lack of capacity to carry anywhere near the kinds of loads that merchant ships currently carry.

    Have you seen the gigantic stacks of containers?
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Yes, most impressive. As it happens I live near a very active port, so I must admit this to be the case.
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    Reuters published an item on this last Friday. One quote might surprise some people. The Arctic can be more, not less, dangerous with more open water. More room for icebergs to move around. More violent disturbance when water can be whipped up in a gale rather than wind just blowing across the ice surface.
    Some scientists say rising temperatures could make sailing the Arctic waters more hazardous -- not easier -- in the near future, bringing more icebergs and fiercer storms."This could be a real problem for offshore platforms and tankers," said Genrikh Alexeyev, an expert on the interaction of the ice, ocean and atmosphere at Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Institute.
    Full article here. Arctic ice melt lifts hopes for Russian maritime trade | Reuters
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Reuters published an item on this last Friday. One quote might surprise some people. The Arctic can be more, not less, dangerous with more open water.
    The loss of permafrost and other reliably solid ground also cramps the style of oil drilling, land facilities for processing stuff, etc. The window during which one can truck heavy loads to the North Shore exploratory wells has shrunk by two months, last time the situation was being bandied in my hearing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Reuters published an item on this last Friday. One quote might surprise some people. The Arctic can be more, not less, dangerous with more open water. More room for icebergs to move around. More violent disturbance when water can be whipped up in a gale rather than wind just blowing across the ice surface.
    Some scientists say rising temperatures could make sailing the Arctic waters more hazardous -- not easier -- in the near future, bringing more icebergs and fiercer storms."This could be a real problem for offshore platforms and tankers," said Genrikh Alexeyev, an expert on the interaction of the ice, ocean and atmosphere at Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Institute.

    Full article here. Arctic ice melt lifts hopes for Russian maritime trade | Reuters
    Score another point for cargo subs, then.
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  17. #16  
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    Again this would be surface travel and not sub travel......
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

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    If open water is sufficiently hazardous on the surface, submarine vessels are more attractive. The lady pointed out this possibility in #13.
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    Except for the fact that cargo subs of the size needed to replace modern container transports do not exist...
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

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    Actually cargo subs of ANY size do not exist at present, but this is not necessarily a permanent condition. Excepting drug-running subs, of course. They are here and do not show any sign of leaving soon.

    Check it:
    concrete submarine yacht, yacht submarine, submarine yachting (concretesubmarine.com)
    Last edited by Arthur Angler; February 3rd, 2012 at 01:37 PM.
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    And is there any indication of any sort of feasibility in the creation of a submersible cargo transport large enough to replace most modern surface transports? Eg Container ships?
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

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  23. #22  
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    So far the principal motivation for submersible cargo vessels has been to avoid detection, drug subs as mentioned above and Axis warcaft of the WWII era. Japan, Germany, and Italy all had versions of these.

    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/810/remo.jpg/sr=1

    The principal advantage of container ships is ease of loading and unloading the vessel, which would be compromised by putting these containers into and then extracting them from a pressure hull.

    Tankers are another matter, particularly when surface conditions are hazardous.
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    Here's what may be a better idea- an unsinkable surface vessel made of Pykrete. Build refrigeration into the thing and costs of operation in a polar climate would be lower because of ambient temperatures. Pile all the containers on it that you want and let it pull Dracone barges for fuel or whatever.

    Pykrete - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    This item gives a bit of an overview. I'm inclined to think it overstates the case a bit.

    The Arctic Institute - Center for Circumpolar Security Studies

    On the other hand, if a couple of catamarans can again go right around the Arctic in each of the next few summers, there will be opportunities. The simple notion of a predictably available shortcut (7 days less sailing time) even for just a few weeks a year would be pretty attractive to many shipping companies.
    Yes, and meanwhile the Panama Canal is in a spiral of disrepair. Each year they scrimp on maintenance costs more in future. And who'll bet the region won't be gripped in civil war next decade?

    On the other hand, Canada's current government champions a really xenophobic attitude regarding the Northwest Passage, baffling to most Canadians for its unbidden ferocity (maybe there were secret talks with the US?). I think they would close the Passage to all traffic rather than risk it becoming defacto international waterway.

    Ironic if the Russian route proves most politically stable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Angler View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    If we get to the point where we're considering hovercraft and submarines for shipping, then we might as well just bring back zeppelins and make sea transport irrelevant.
    Why? We already have air transport capacity- as dearly as I love zeppelins for sentimental reasons, they seem unjustified under the circumstances for practical ones. And as paleo points out, old-fashioned surface vessels are a perfectly pragmatic solution much of the time.
    It would help if they would un-outlaw hydrogen. If we're talking about industrial transport with a small crew, rather than passenger transport, then the risk of loss of life is quite minimal. Lots of jobs are surely more dangerous than that one, and less glamorous. It's just baffling that, in a time when fuel costs are getting prohibitively high we don't use all the options available for shipping.

    Helium is too expensive to be practical, but hydrogen is quite cheap and offers better lifting power, both.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Yes, rather amazing when you consider the hazards presented by gasoline, widely accepted, carcinogenic, volatile and explosive.

    H2 is lighter than air, so a spill will not be concentrated near the ground and even so presents no carcinogenic risk as far as I know.

    Going back to Pykrete, it would make a vessel of any size, relatively inexpensive, unsinkable, very strong if kept cold via refrigeration, impervious to corrosion without anti-fouling paint and the objections to same from the Greenies, and well suited to operations at high latitudes. If such a vessel encountered an iceberg, the iceberg would shatter before the vessel. Hell, you could make it big enough to build a zeppelin hangar on if you wanted, just a little extra piping for refrigerant and wood pulp/wastepaper would be required.
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    Oh yes of course .. remove the ice, exploit the poor shrivelling planet even more .. it's no wonder it will soon cast most of humanity off .. Good Riddance!
    Search engines are such useful tools .. I wonder why more people don't use them?
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    Do you have a point relevant to the topic you wish to make or are you just expressing your generalized hatred for humanity?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Angler View Post
    Do you have a point relevant to the topic you wish to make or are you just expressing your generalized hatred for humanity?
    Generalized hatred is not specific hatred. There are good people around .. mostly they're called children. I think they're relevant and deserve better than blahblahblahblah.
    Search engines are such useful tools .. I wonder why more people don't use them?
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  31. #30  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aristarchus in Exile View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Angler View Post
    Do you have a point relevant to the topic you wish to make or are you just expressing your generalized hatred for humanity?
    Generalized hatred is not specific hatred. There are good people around .. mostly they're called children. I think they're relevant and deserve better than blahblahblahblah.
    if you don't have anything useful to contribute please refrain from commenting then...
    Last edited by Paleoichneum; February 7th, 2012 at 03:34 PM.
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    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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    Well, as I see it, the potential presence of a shipping lane to regions which have been inaccessible by such means before is potentially a good thing and the question is how to best make use of it.
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