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Chokepoints Holding Northwest Passage Closed For Now, Despite Near-Record Arctic Basin Ice Loss

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 10:26 PM
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Chokepoints Holding Northwest Passage Closed For Now, Despite Near-Record Arctic Basin Ice Loss
Despite predictions from a top U.S. polar institute that the Arctic Ocean's overall ice cover is headed for another "extreme" meltdown by mid-September, the Environment Canada agency monitoring our northern waters says an unusual combination of factors is making navigation more difficult in the Northwest Passage this year after two straight summers of virtually clear sailing.

In both the wider, deep-water northern corridor and the narrower, shallower southern branches of the passage, the Canadian Ice Service says pockets of more extensive winter freezing and concentrations of thicker, older ice at several key "choke points" are complicating ship travel.

The fabled trans-Arctic sea route, zealously sought by European explorers in centuries past as a shortcut to Asia, is increasingly seen in today's era of rapidly retreating sea ice as a potential highway to resources and Arctic tourist destinations.


In the central part of the passage where the northern and southern routes merge amid narrowings around Prince of Wales Island, the CIS has observed "greater than normal concentrations of thicker, multi-year ice. This is the result of an increased flow of older ice from the Beaufort Sea into the Canadian Arctic archipelago last year."

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