According to this article over at The Guardian, this Summer has seen an unprecedented melting of polar ice, with large chunks of it disappearing at a very high rate of speed. In fact, so much ice has melted off, that the once mythical North West Passage has become reality, with the water way across the top of Canada now being fully navigable.
Explorers sought out the North West Passage for years, hoping that they could find a quick and easy path from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. When North America was being colonized by Europe, the waterway was sought as a trade route that would save weeks, or even months, off of voyages to the West Coast of the continent, or even beyond to Asia. The route wasn’t truly discovered until famed polar explorer Roald Amundsen of Norway was able to navigate a ship fortified against the ice through the region. It took him three years to make the voyage however.
Since that time, a number of vessels have made the journey, but each of them were likewise fortified against damage from ice. The waterway remained very treacherous, and was largely ignored due to the completion of the Panama Canal, which saved a great deal of time as well, and didn’t share the same level of danger.
Now, thanks to global warming, it seems that the North West Passage is a reality, with ships being able to pass through the pass with little fear. Even more surprising is the talk of the “North East Passage” opening in a few weeks as well. That would allow ships to navigate the entire Northern coast of Russia.
The article is quite sobering with it’s look at the impact of the loss of the polar ice caps on the surrounding environment and the wildlife that live there. It’s pretty hard to deny that global warming is going happening at this point, and this is just another sign of it’s impact. The real question is, how long before we see Princess Cruise Lines offering North West Passage Adventure Cruises? Not long I’d be willing to bet.
Thanks for the tip on this one GoBlog!
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