BEIJING, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers have predicted that open water ships will be able to navigate along the Northeast Passage of the Arctic in autumn months by 2050.
The Arctic has been under rapid warming since the 1970s, while the sea ice cover has experienced a significant reduction.
After 2001, the sea ice thickness and density retreated.
All these changes mean that the shipping passages across the Arctic have higher navigation capacity.
The Northeast Passage of the Arctic is the shortest passage connecting northeast Asia and northern Europe and can save a third of the traditional sailing time.
Ships can currently sail in the Arctic during summer when sea ice formations are not high.
The researchers, from the Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, analyzed the historical sea ice conditions of the Arctic and evaluated the future transportation accessibility along its Northeast Passage.
They found that the Northeast Passage is projected to be navigable for open water ships in September from 2021 to 2025, according to their research article published in the journal Global and Planetary Change. And the navigable period would extend to October from 2026-2050.
Also, ships with medium icebreaking capabilities would be able to cross the passage from August to December from 2021-2025 and from July to December from 2026-2050.
The research is expected to support navigation route planning in the future.
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