September 29, 2013

Tara Reaches the Open Waters of Lancaster Sound

According to the Tara Expeditions web site:

Tara is a legendary boat built for extreme conditions.

We last heard of her from Vincent Berthet, who along with Sébastian Roubinet unexpectedly boarded Tara in Pevek, Russia before sailing in her across the Chukchi Sea and then disembarking in Tuktoyaktuk, Canada. Tara then continued from Tuk, sailing along the southern route of the Northwest Passage. In the latest news from Tara this morning, the expedition web site announced:

The Northwest Passage is behind Tara!

The Northwest Passage is behind Tara!

That announcement is perhaps slightly premature, since strictly speaking she needs to continue south until the Arctic Circle has been crossed before claiming to have completed her west to east voyage through the Northwest Passage in 2013. Nonetheless she has certainly completed the hard part! Here's what Tara's tracking map shows at the moment:

Tara's track at 07:54 UTC on September 29th 2013

Tara's track at 07:54 UTC on September 29th 2013

As the map suggests, Tara's next planned port of call is Arctic Bay on Canada's Baffin Island. After that she's heading on to Ilulissat in Greenland, then back to Canada in Québec, before crossing the North Atlantic back to France in plenty of time for Christmas! As luck would have it there was a break in the clouds over Tara's route yesterday, and here's what NASA Worldview reveals of the view from the Aqua satellite:

Aqua satellite view of the CAA on September 28th 2013, using bands 7-2-1

Aqua satellite view of the CAA on September 28th 2013, using bands 7-2-1

The blue tint to the image is because it is created using Aqua's MODIS sensor bands 1, 2 and 7. In the image open water is dark blue, ice is pale blue and the many clouds are white. As you can see, whichever route Tara chose, she must have come quite close to some sea ice. She nonetheless appears to have emerged unscathed out into the currently ice free Lancaster Sound, and can continue on her journey in increasingly uninhibited fashion. Perhaps this picture gives us a clue to how she managed that feat?

A Canadian icebreaker leads Tara towards Lancaster Sound

The CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent leads Tara towards Lancaster Sound

As you can see from the first image, the crew of Tara are very interested in what the IPCC were up to in Stockholm last week, as are we. There's sure to be more on that topic from econnexus.org in the near future, as well as on the last stages of Tara's 2013 Arctic circumnavigation.

Filed under Adventure by

September 28, 2013

IPCC Say "Human Influence on the Climate System is Clear"

After all the hullabaloo in the "popular press" recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC for short) have now started issuing information following the meeting in Stockholm this week discussing the contribution of their Working Group I to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5 for short). According to the initial press release:

Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident in most regions of the globe, a new assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes. It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The evidence for this has grown, thanks to more and better observations, an improved understanding of the climate system response and improved climate models. Warming in the climate system is unequivocal and since 1950 many changes have been observed throughout the climate system that are unprecedented over decades to millennia. Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850, reports the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group I assessment report, Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis, approved on Friday by member governments of the IPCC in Stockholm, Sweden.

So far only the Summary for Policymakers (SPM for short) has been made publicly available, but according to the press release once again:

The Final Draft of the Working Group I report (version distributed to governments on 7 June 2013), including the Technical Summary, 14 chapters and an Atlas of Global and Regional Climate Projections, will be released online in unedited form on Monday 30 September.

Whilst we wait with bated breath for that to appear, here is the SPM's long list of bullet points:

Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0?700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010, and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971.

Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence).

The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia (high confidence). Over the period 1901–2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 [0.17 to 0.21] m.

The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. CO2 concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification.

Total radiative forcing is positive, and has led to an uptake of energy by the climate system. The largest contribution to total radiative forcing is caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750.

Preliminary total radiative forcing estimates from the IPCC AR5 WGI summary for policymakers

Preliminary total radiative forcing estimates from the IPCC AR5 WGI SPM

Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.

Climate models have improved since the AR4. Models reproduce observed continental-scale surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid warming since the mid-20th century and the cooling immediately following large volcanic eruptions (very high confidence).

Observational and model studies of temperature change, climate feedbacks and changes in the Earth’s energy budget together provide confidence in the magnitude of global warming in response to past and future forcing.

Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes. This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4. It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.

Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Global surface temperature change for the end of the 21st century is likely to exceed 1.5°C relative to 1850 to 1900 for all RCP scenarios except RCP2.6. It is likely to exceed 2°C for RCP6.0 and RCP8.5, and more likely than not to exceed 2°C for RCP4.5. Warming will continue beyond 2100 under all RCP scenarios except RCP2.6. Warming will continue to exhibit interannual-to-decadal variability and will not be regionally uniform.

Changes in the global water cycle in response to the warming over the 21st century will not be uniform. The contrast in precipitation between wet and dry regions and between wet and dry seasons will increase, although there may be regional exceptions.

The global ocean will continue to warm during the 21st century. Heat will penetrate from the surface to the deep ocean and affect ocean circulation.

It is very likely that the Arctic sea ice cover will continue to shrink and thin and that Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover will decrease during the 21st century as global mean surface temperature rises. Global glacier volume will further decrease.

Preliminary Arctic sea ice projections from the IPCC AR5 WGI summary for policymakers

Preliminary Arctic sea ice projections from the IPCC AR5 WGI summary for policymakers

Global mean sea level will continue to rise during the 21st century. Under all RCP scenarios the rate of sea level rise will very likely exceed that observed during 1971–2010 due to increased ocean warming and increased loss of mass from glaciers and ice sheets.

Preliminary sea level rise projections from the IPCC AR5 WGI summary for policymakers

Preliminary sea level rise projections from the IPCC AR5 WGI summary for policymakers

Climate change will affect carbon cycle processes in a way that will exacerbate the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (high confidence). Further uptake of carbon by the ocean will increase ocean acidification.

Cumulative emissions of CO2 largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond. Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped. This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2.

Having read the IPCC's latest  projections we repeat the question we have asked numerous times here on econnexus.org over the last 5 years:

When will the world's policymakers stop spouting hot air and start taking practical measures to mitigate the inevitable climate change that we all must now face.

Here's an hour long video of the opening session of the IPCC AR5 WGI meeting in Stockholm:

Judge for yourself whether it's mostly scientific facts or merely more hot air.

Filed under Climate by

September 22, 2013

The Northwest Passage is Open for Business

Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S have just announced in a press release that:

The international shipping industry is these days witness to a historic event, when a vessel for the first time ever is sailing from Vancouver in Canada to Finland through Arctic waters. One of the world’s few modern ice-class bulk carriers – MV NORDIC ORION – will carry a cargo of 73,500 tons of coal via the so called North West Passage through Arctic waters to Finland. A Danish pioneer in operating ice-classed bulk carriers Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S is behind the historic North West Journey

Despite all the recent erroneous publicity about "ice bound" yachts in the Northwest Passage and "60% more ice",  Christian Bonfils who is managing director of Nordic Bulk Carriers goes on to say that:

We are very excited about this historic voyage, which has been a dream and ambition for several years. We have deep respect towards these important Arctic waters and have planned this voyage in close coordination with Transport Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard to ensure a safe execution. Reducing time, fuel and CO2 emissions The North West Passage across the Arctic is shorter than the traditional route through the Panama Canal and thereby has the potential to generate important saving in both time, fuel and CO2 emissions. The North West Passage shortens the distance with 1.000 nautical miles. This results in a reduction in fuel consumption and transportation time – and it also means lower CO2 emissions. The fuel savings alone add up to approximately USD 80,000. In addition this new route allows full utilisation of the ships capacity and thereby carries 25% more cargo than through the Panama Canal.

The ship is somewhat more sturdy than most of the vessels that have traversed the southern route of the Northwest passage this summer. According to NBC once again, in  a related factsheet:

MV Nordic Orion is an ice-class 1A ship. This is the highest conventional ice-class, and it is one of the only ships that can sail the route due to ice filled waters.

Describing the Nordic Orion in detail, they go on to cover the following bullet points:

  • 75.603 Dead weight tons
  • Built in 2011 at Oshima Shipyard in Japan
  • Ice class 1A
  • 225 meter long
  • 18,420 brake horse power (normal non ice classed ships have 12,000 bhp)
  • Carries 73,500 tons of coal
  • Has a sister ship MV Nordic Odyssey, which also has performed several Arctic trips and was the first Panamax bulk carrier on the Northern Sea Route

Here's a video of one of Nordic Bulk Carriers' ice class 1A vessels in action on the Northern Sea Route:

When NBC say world wide, they mean World Wide! Here's a photo of the Nordic Orion on a visit to South West England earlier this year!

Nordic Orion inbound passing Portishead Point

With both the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route now open for business and carrying commercial traffic, I wonder when the first weather induced "incident" will occur? There aren't many "ports in a storm" on either route!

Filed under Economics by

September 21, 2013

SBCES Wind Turbine Now Generates Renewable Energy!

As we reported at the end of last month, the South Brent Community Energy Society's "remanufactured" Vestas V27 wind turbine has now been delivered and installed. Here's a time lapse video revealing the steps involved in installing a wind turbine:

Installation of the SBCES Wind Turbine from Jim L. Hunt on Vimeo.

Last weekend I went on a visit to the site shortly before the SBCES annual general meeting was held in South Brent village hall. Here are a few snaps I took, plus one taken by a man with a camera at the top of the turbine's mast, which shows an aerial view of the adjacent Marley Thatch solar PV farm!

A view of the Marley Thatch solar PV from the top of the SBCES wind turbine

A view of the Marley Thatch solar PV farm from the top of the SBCES wind turbine

Following the installation of the turbine it seems there were a few teething troubles that still needed sorting out. However by September 14th those had been solved, all the right paperwork had been sent off to OFGEM, the wind turbine was feeding electricity into the grid and the South Brent Community Energy Society were finally expecting to receive some income after many years of hard work and the expenditure of considerable sums of money. The Society tell me that the turbine installation has cost £383,500 so far, and the grid connection an additional £17,000. They're now waiting for formal accreditation from OFGEM, and some money should then start flowing into their bank account, rather than out, in the very near future.

A view of the SBCES wind turbine and grid connection from the road

A view of the SBCES wind turbine and grid connection from the road

A view inside the nacelle of the SBCES wind turbine

A view inside the nacelle of the SBCES wind turbine

A view of the SBCES wind turbine from the road at Blue Post

A view of the SBCES wind turbine from the road at Blue Post

Filed under Renewables by

September 16, 2013

MeyGen Gets Go Ahead for 86MW Tidal Energy Project

According to a MeyGen news release this morning:

MeyGen Ltd. has been awarded consent by the Scottish Government for an 86MW tidal energy project, following the completion of the statutory approval process with the regulator Marine Scotland.

The project is located in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth off the north coast of Caithness, home to one of Europe’s greatest tidal resources. It is the largest tidal stream energy project to be awarded consent in Europe and constitutes the first phase of a site that could eventually yield up to 398MW.

MeyGen plans to build an initial demonstration array of up to 6 turbines, with construction starting in early 2014 and turbines commissioned in 2015. This initial array will provide valuable environmental data for the subsequent phases and the wider tidal energy industry.

Here's what one of the AR1000 turbines that will be used for the project looks like:

Atlantis Resources AR1000 tidal turbine (Image Atlantis)

Atlantis Resources AR1000 tidal turbine (Image Atlantis)

According to the BBC:

[The project] will begin with a 9MW demonstration project of up to six turbines, with construction expected to take place on a phased basis until 2020. When fully operational, the 86MW array could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 42,000 homes. That is the equivalent of 40% of homes in the Highlands, the Scottish government said. It will be the first commercial deployment of tidal turbines in Scottish waters.

Scottish-registered company MeyGen is a joint venture between investment bank Morgan Stanley, independent power generator International Power and tidal technology provider Atlantis Resources Corporation. Its tidal energy project is located in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth off the north coast of Caithness. The firm has agreed a 25-year lease with the Crown Estate for an area encompassing about 1.4 square miles (3.5 square kilometres) of fast flowing water between the island of Stroma and the north easterly tip of the Scottish mainland.

Here's what an AR1000 drive train looks like in action whilst being tested at the UK's National Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC) :

Filed under Renewables by

September 15, 2013

Ingrid Becomes the Second "Atlantic" Hurricane of 2013

According to the 10th public advisory bulletin concerning Ingrid, issued by the National Hurricane Center at 21:00 UTC yesterday evening:

INGRID BECOMES THE SECOND HURRICANE OF THE 2013 SEASON.

A HURRICANE WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED [BY THE GOVERNMENT OF MEXICO] FROM CABO ROJO TO LA PESCA. A TROPICAL STORM WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED FROM NORTH OF LA PESCA TO BAHIA ALGODONES…AND FROM SOUTH OF CABO ROJO TO TUXPAN.

As you can tell from that report, Ingrid has actually formed in the Gulf of Mexico close to the Mexican coast. According to the latest bulletin #12a:

INGRID CONTINUES A SLOW APPROACH TOWARD THE GULF COAST OF MEXICO, AND HAS NOT STRENGTHENED FURTHER. ON THE FORECAST TRACK INGRID SHOULD REACH THE COAST OF MEXICO WITHIN THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA EARLY MONDAY.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 85 MPH (140 KM/H) WITH HIGHER GUSTS. SOME STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST BEFORE LANDFALL. HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 35 MILES (55 KM) FROM THE CENTER, AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 90 MILES (150 KM). THE ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 986 MB (29.12 INCHES).

INGRID IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE 10 TO 15 INCHES OF RAIN OVER A LARGE PART OF EASTERN MEXICO WITH ISOLATED AMOUNTS OF 25 INCHES POSSIBLE, ESPECIALLY IN AREAS OF MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN. THESE RAINS ARE LIKELY TO RESULT IN LIFE-THREATENING FLASH FLOODS AND MUD SLIDES.

HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO REACH THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA EARLY MONDAY, WITH TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS EXPECTED BY TONIGHT. HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE IN THE HURRICANE WATCH AREA EARLY MONDAY.

A DANGEROUS STORM SURGE WILL RAISE WATER LEVELS BY AS MUCH AS 3 TO 5 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS ALONG THE IMMEDIATE COAST NEAR AND TO THE NORTH OF WHERE THE CENTER OF INGRID MAKES LANDFALL. NEAR THE COAST THE SURGE WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE AND DESTRUCTIVE WAVES.

Here is Ingrid's current 5 day forecast track:

NHC forecast track for Hurricane Ingrid at 07:00 CDT on Sunday September 15th, 2013

NHC forecast track for Hurricane Ingrid at 07:00 CDT on Sunday September 15th, 2013

Filed under Disasters by

The Great White Con Continues

After last weekend's performance the Mail on Sunday have today hosted yet another edition of the David and Judy show. David Rose's headline for this week reads:

Global warming is just HALF what we said: World's top climate scientists admit computers got the effects of greenhouse gases wrong.

This new article also refers back to this time last week, saying:

The Mail on Sunday’s report last week that Arctic ice has had a massive rebound this year from its 2012 record low was followed up around the world – and recorded 174,200 Facebook ‘shares’, by some distance a record for an article on the MailOnline website.

But the article and its author also became the object of extraordinarily vitriolic attacks from climate commentators who refuse to accept any evidence that may unsettle their view of the science.
A Guardian website article claimed our report was ‘delusional’ because it ignored what it called an ‘Arctic death spiral’ caused by global warming.

Beneath this, some readers who made comments had their posts removed by the site moderator, because they ‘didn’t abide by our community standards’.

I was one of those "commentators" that "had [some of] their posts removed by the site moderator". This is what one of my comments that failed to impress the Mail's moderators looked like:

A comment missing from the Mail Online, posted at 15:04 on September 8th 2013

A comment missing from the Mail Online, posted at 15:04 on September 8th 2013

This didn't appear on the Mail Online, it didn't strike me as being "libellous or abusive" either, and it's certainly not "extraordinarily vitriolic" .  Hence the following day I sent the following email to the Managing Editor of the Mail Online:

Subject: Mail Online moderation policy

Date: 09/09/2013 17:42

Hello Rhiannon,

I'm assured that the buck concerning the above subject stops on your desk. I tried phoning you earlier today, and eventually ended up leaving a message on Lucy's voicemail. No response as yet though, hence this email!

To summarise, I'm trying to discover the Mail Online moderation policy. As far as I can tell I abide by the house rules, but a number of my comments have failed to appear. Including a link certainly doesn't seem to help, but even without some don't get through. Can you enlighten me about what's going on behind the scenes?

For additional background see for example this recent "tweet" of mine -  https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/statuses/376729633992884224

Thanks in advance,

Jim Hunt

I have yet to receive any response to that email, or to the various questions I have put to David Rose via a number of different avenues. In today's article David Rose has the temerity to state that:

Another assault was mounted by Bob Ward, spokesman for the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at the London School  of Economics. Mr Ward tweeted that the article was ‘error-strewn’.

The eminent US expert Professor Judith Curry, who unlike Mr Ward is a climate scientist with a long list of  peer-reviewed publications to  her name, disagreed.

On her blog Climate Etc she defended The Mail on Sunday, saying the article contained ‘good material’, and issued a tweet which challenged Mr Ward to say what these ‘errors’ were.

He has yet to reply.

Please join me in rearranging the following well known phrase or saying:

The black pot is calling the kettle.

As if further proof is needed to support that assertion, here is what another comment of mine posted earlier today that has thus far failed to emerge from the Mail Online's moderation queue looks like:

The facts of the matter are that the increase in Arctic sea ice extent compared to "this time last year" was just HALF of what David Rose said in the Mail on Sunday this time last week:

http://GreatWhiteCon.info/2013/09/a-million-square-miles/

Here's the thing. You don't need to be a climate scientist like Judy to work out that David Rose is just a fairground performer. You only need to be able to work out the difference between half a million and one million:

Filed under Politics by

September 12, 2013

"Biblical" Floods in Boulder Close NSIDC

Following up a line of research suggested to me by The Telegraph earlier today I followed a link to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center. This is the sight that greeted me:

NSIDC closed because of flooding on September 12th 2013

NSIDC closed because of flooding on September 12th 2013

Not only are the NSIDC offices closed for the day, but so is their web site. I currently cannot access the data I was searching for. According to the BBC:

Flooding from a fast-moving storm in Colorado has killed three people and led to the evacuation of hundreds of homes.

Many roads are closed because of high water and debris, preventing rescue crews from reaching the stranded.

Up to 7in (17cm) of rain fell in three hours in the Boulder area on Thursday morning, the third day of rain.

According to Tom Yulsman at Discover magazine:

The Satellite Blog of the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies has just posted some dramatic remote sensing imagery of the continuing deluge here in Colorado. And in the explanation of what’s been happening, the author of the post, Scott Lindstrom, concluded that the extraordinary amount of rainfall we’ve experienced here in the Boulder area “could be classified as a 1,000-year event.”

But could it really be something that occurs only once in a thousand years? Earlier in the day, the National Weather Service did say that “biblical rainfall amounts” have been reported. So it’s clear that the deluge here has been impressing the experts.

Here's how that deluge looked from space (click for a larger version):

GOES-15 and GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor animation (Image CIMSS)

GOES-15 and GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor animation (Image CIMSS)

Atmospheric rivers are supposed to occur on west facing coasts, but in this case all that water has managed to work its way inland:

A monsoonal flow like this is not unusual in Colorado — during the heart of the summer. But it usually dissipates by late Labor Day. This year it has not. Instead, it has been on steroids.

Add to that an anticyclonic circulation (clockwise) in the Midwest. This has been pushing water vapor into the Front Range region as well.

In other words, two circulation patterns have come together in just the right way and just the right time to draw large amounts of water vapor into Colorado.

Tom's conclusion?

It’s not over yet.

Filed under Climate by

The Russian Northern Fleet Takes "A Trek" Along the Northern Sea Route

According to the Russian language web site "TV Star" (with the aid of Google Translate, plus a bit of poetic licence on my part):

On the personal order of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu troop ships of the Northern Fleet, led by the cruiser "Peter the Great" are making a trip through the Arctic. They have already passed the Kara Gate – between the islands of Novaya Zemlya and Vaygach. During the trek the crews of the missile cruiser and of the large amphibious ships "Olenegorsky miner" and "Kondopoga" will be improving seamanship and getting trained in rescue operations in the Arctic regions.

The Northern Fleet have just missed a great training opportunity, since according to the Barents Observer they have just sailed strait past the stricken diesel tanker Nordvik, accompanied by no less than four nuclear icebreakers!

A group consisting of ten different vessels from the Northern Fleet and led by the heavy missile cruiser "Peter the Great" yesterday sailed through the Matisen Strait north of the Taymyr Peninsula. The group was escorted by no less than four of Atomflot’s nuclear-powered icebreakers, among them the two largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world, “50 Years of Victory” and “Yamal”. Also the two shallow-water nuclear icebreakers “Vaygach” and “Taymyr” were put in to escort the world’s largest battlecruiser through the crumbling ice.

Nuclear icebreakers escorting Russia's heavy missile cruiser "Peter the Great" along the Northern Sea Route. (Photo: mil.ru)

Nuclear icebreakers escorting Russia's heavy missile cruiser "Peter the Great" along the Northern Sea Route. (Photo: mil.ru)

Click the image to watch a Russian language video of them all in action. According to "TV Star" once again:

The fourth "Peter the Great"  in a row is a third generation heavy nuclear missile cruiser. In 2011 it was the world's largest non aircraft carrier shock warship. Its main purpose – the destruction of  enemy aircraft carrier groups.

It rather sounds as though ministering to tankers in distress isn't part of Peter's job description!

Filed under Politics by

September 10, 2013

The Yong Sheng docks in Rotterdam as the Nordvik is holed on the Northern Sea Route

As econnexus.org reported back in March:

The Russians and Chinese [are] obviously extremely keen on the idea of saving many billions (and hence making many billions!) of dollars by shipping many billions of tonnes of stuff across the Arctic Ocean in the very near future.

As the Financial Times reported on August 11th:

A Chinese cargo ship is attempting the country’s first ever commercial transit of the Northeast Passage above Russia, as a changing climate opens a short-cut that promises to reduce shipping times between China and Europe.

The Yong Sheng, a 19,000-tonne vessel operated by state-owned Cosco Group, set sail on August 8 from Dalian, a port in northeastern China, bound for Rotterdam. According to an announcement on Cosco’s website, the journey via the Bering Strait could shave as much as 15 days off the traditional route through the Suez Canal and Mediterranean Sea.

According to MarineTraffic the Yong Sheng reached Rotterdam earlier this afternoon, having just sailed south through the North Sea:

The Yong Sheng approaches Rotterdam on September 10th 2013

The Yong Sheng approaches Rotterdam on September 10th 2013

Meanwhile the Barents Observer reports today that:

The 6403 tonne dead weight tanker "Nordvik”  hit an ice floe and started taking in water while sailing the Northern Sea Route (NSR) last week. The tanker was fully loaded with diesel oil. As a result of the collision with the ice floe, the tanker got a hole in one of the ballast tanks and started taking in water. The hole has been plugged with a cement box and the water ingress has stopped. The vessel is now drifting in the Matisen Strait, where the accident happened, waiting for another tanker to come and take the cargo.

The tanker acted in violation of the permit given by the NSR administration by entering waters with medium ice conditions without being escorted by an icebreaker. The ship owner Khatanga Commercial Port is negotiating with nuclear icebreaker operator Atomflot to have the tanker escorted to port in Khatanga. There is still no information about any leakage of oil.

According to the BBC last month:

One of Russia's remotest regions is a haven for wildlife. The Taimyr Peninsula is the most northerly piece of land in the world that is still attached to a continent. Only a few Arctic islands and parts of Greenland are further north.

As shipping through the Russian Arctic increases, the biggest bottleneck is at the northern tip of the Taimyr at Cape Chelyuskin. Near the cape the sea ice lingers the longest into late summer and early autumn.

This weekend the Mail on Sunday told its readers that "an unbroken ice sheet… already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia’s northern shores." It seems as though some people will do anything to earn a quick buck or two!

Filed under Economics by