Ships Will Soon Cross North Pole

    This photo, supplied by NASA, shows a portion of Canada's Northwest Passage largely free of ice as seen by NASA's Terra satellite on Sept. 15, 2007. Arctic ice has shrunk to the lowest level on record, new satellite images show, raising the possibility that the Northwest Passage that eluded famous explorers will become an open shipping lane. The European Space Agency said on its web site, Friday, Sept. 15, that nearly 200 satellite photos this month taken together showed an ice-free passage along northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland, and ice retreating to its lowest level since such images were first taken in 1978.(AP Photo/NASA)

    Artic's Northwest Passage. (NASA, via AP)

    As soon as 2050, ships will be able to sail directly across what is known as the “northern route,” cutting through what used to be solid ice as late-summer Arctic sea ice disappears. Russian icebreakers and other fortified ships have already been taking the shortcut: a total of 46 ships took the northern route in 2012, mostly escorted by icebreakers. But in less than 40 years, according to a study published this week, regular ships will be able to make the trip easily, and slightly fortified ships will be able to take a super-fast route directly across. The shortcut will enormously cut the costs of trade between Europe and China, which will open the floodgates for even more potentially devastating economic activity.

    Read it at The Guardian