Arctic routes are seasonally predictable

It’s possible to predict the existence of viable shipping routes through the Arctic several months in advance, according to scientists in the UK.

The ability is a boon for shipping companies hoping to exploit Arctic routes, which are becoming more accessible due to declining sea ice in the region.

In principle, predictions of the opening and closing of the Arctic shipping season can be made as early as January, the researchers found, although there is a step-change to much higher predictability after May. By July, two months before the usual sea-ice minimum, it should be possible to predict the fastest open-water route through the Arctic to within 200 kilometres, the scientists believe.

“Skilful predictions at seasonal timescales are rare in the climate and meteorology world,” said Nathanael Melia of the University of Reading. “This study establishes that skilful seasonal predictions for the availability of Arctic shipping routes are potentially possible.” […]

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