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Arctic Routes Competition for the Canals?

I just watched an interesting YouTube video on the Panama Canal:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6Z4OnLCYIM

One can’t help but wonder after watching the latest update from the Panama Canal Commission, how anyone could seriously believe either the Northern Sea Route or the Northwest Passage are competition for either the Panama Canal or the Suez.   Where tens of thousands of vessels pass through each of the great canals annually, the number that would ever hope to pass along the NSR or the NWP would be measured in hundreds at the most.

Ice Navigation RV Mirai Arctic Deployment 2013 #25

RV Mirai’s 2013 Arctic Deployment is coming to a close. During cruise MR13-06 over two hundred and twenty images and ice charts from American, Canadian, Japanese, Norwegian and Russian sources were obtained and used by the navigation and research teams onboard. These included analyses completed in the form of ice charts, as well as visual, radar and thermal satellite imagery. The ship and crew were able to complete a rigourous science program with the input and guidance of an experienced ice navigator that provided further onboard analysis of information received from external sources combined with the assessment of actual conditions in the area of operation, weather forecasts and knowledge of ice dynamics.

Ice Navigation RV Mirai Arctic Deployment 2013 #24

The 2013 Arctic navigational season has not continued the recent trend of reduced ice cover that has been frequently reported by the media. This year we have experienced more, not less, ice. However, one measure using area only and not considering ice thickness ranks 2013 as the 6th least ice coverage on record. Paradoxically, during the last few years of reduced Arctic ice cover, and this year in particular, the Antarctic has been experiencing years of increased sea ice coverage. What does this mean to shipping? Whether one year is measured least or greatest is not what is important to shipping - what is important is that the ice is still here most of the time.

Ice Navigation RV Mirai Arctic Deployment #23

According to the Chief Scientist, today’s operation was the first time the RV Mirai dragged for a mooring. They had prepared to do so once before but in the end did not as they could not pin-point the mooring location because its transponder was dead. The transponder on this particular mooring was not dead, it was in fact quite talkative, it simply refused to release on command.

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