Global warming is causing problems in an unexpected place: the melting polar ice caps have let loose an unusual number of icebergs, which are now affecting global sea shipping lanes! While massive container ships may be able to handle collisions with icebergs better than the Titanic did in April 1912, the icebergs are causing serious problems.
They may even be convincing some companies to skip sea shipping for air cargo instead. Each year the global aviation industry transports more than $6.4 trillion worth of cargo. Overall, aviation is on the rise. In the U.S. alone, commercial airlines carried more than 3.8 billion passengers and generated global revenue of $501 billion as of 2016.
According to Mashable writer Mark Kaufman, “In the spring of 2017, a thick-hulled icebreaking research vessel, the Amundsen, had left its Quebec port en route to a research cruise in Hudson Bay. But the scientists aboard never made it to their destination: The Amundsen was diverted to rescue unsuspecting ships that had become entrapped by Arctic ice floes that moved into North Atlantic Ocean shipping lanes.”
Due to increasing temperatures, these masses of Arctic ice are beginning to melt and opening the channels between the Arctic and the North Atlantic. On March 15, scientists aboard the Amundsen published their research in the Geophysical Research Letter journal to issue a warning that this treat could become more common.
University of Manitoba ice researcher Dave Babb explains that increased ice movement is a sign that the Arctic climate is expected to drastically change over the next few decades.
Because of the ice movements, boats are now running into trouble because the sea ice is getting flushed into the Arctic.
According to Babb, “The warming in the Arctic and decline in ice cover is increasing the ability of this ice to be transported out of the Arctic, to areas that typically don’t have these large pieces of ice.”
Last year, there were numerous rescue efforts for trapped, punctured, or sinking ships in the ocean area north of Newfoundland. Two ships were sunk by the ice and other ships had to be guided to ice-free waters. So while ice levels are at a record low, the movement of the ice is causing more harm than good.
This spring, researchers will head out on the Amundsen once again and hope to gather more data. They hope to have more icebreaking vessels in the area to assist if a surge of ice should come down again from the Arctic and cause trouble for ships.