Year-Round Passage Through the Arctic

With the ice caps receding, this should make room for year round passage through the arctic. This will shift patterns in world trade by boosting shipping between northwest Europe and countries like China, Japan and South Korea because shipping routes will be much shorter.

The northern sea route would also alter world trade by making northern countries richer, but causing problems for countries like Egypt because less traffic would come through the Suez Canal. Roughly 8% of world trade goes through the Suez Canal, and experts predict that two-thirds of this volume will switch to the shorter Arctic route. The northern route will become one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, increasing the economic and political importance of the Arctic.

A possible advantage from the new trade route would be its affect on the environment. Ships will burn far less fuel, because they will not need to travel as far to reach their destinations. However, this benefit could offset if the volume of trade increases because of the shorter route.