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An examination of trans-Arctic vessel routing in the Central Arctic Ocean
Stevenson, T.C.; Davies, J.; Huntington, H.P.; Sheard, W. (2019). An examination of trans-Arctic vessel routing in the Central Arctic Ocean. Mar. Policy 100: 83-89.
In: Marine Policy. Elsevier: UK. ISSN 0308-597X; e-ISSN 1872-9460, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Central Arctic Ocean; Transpolar Sea Route; Vulnerability; Shipping; Environmental risk; Climate change

Authors  Top 
  • Stevenson, T.C.
  • Davies, J.
  • Huntington, H.P.
  • Sheard, W.

    As the Arctic continues to warm, summer sea ice will continue to recede and a greater expanse of Arctic waters will become navigable. These changes may result in an increase in vessel traffic to the region, including via the Transpolar Sea Route (TSR), through the high seas area of the central Arctic Ocean (CAO). This paper begins with a review of the literature on Arctic vessel traffic to assess the potential effects of various stressors related to vessel traffic in the Arctic Ocean. Available data concerning environmental and safety risks for the Arctic Ocean are used to propose vessel TSR vessel traffic routes that can reduce those risks. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of several examples of vulnerability assessments focused on impacts from vessel traffic in the Arctic as potential models for future work specific to the CAO. The results from this review indicate vessel oiling, air pollution, and noise from icebreakers are immediate concerns to the Arctic Ocean that will likely worsen as the region becomes more navigable and vessel traffic increases. The proposed vessel routes for the Arctic Ocean are meant to serve as a starting point for further discussions before the region becomes fully navigable. As additional data become available, these efforts can be refined further, and a rigorous vulnerability assessment may become possible. Designation as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area under international law could provide a useful mechanism for creating and updating precautionary shipping measures as more information becomes available.

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