Global warming has caused the Arctic icecap to retreat from neigbouring continents creating opening a gap
The historic development was revealed by satellite images taken last week showing that both the north-west and north-east passages have been opened by melting ice.
Shipping companies are already planning to exploit the first simultaneous opening of the routes since the beginning of the last Ice Age 125,000 years ago. The Beluga Group in Germany says it will send the first ship through the north-east passage, around Russia, next year, cutting 4,000 miles off the voyage from Germany to Japan.
I am excited to see what has lain beneath the ice for all this time.
Canada Port Gains as Ice Diminishes
By JAMES BROOKE
Published: November 3, 2000 (and apparently republished in today's online business section)
Here on the edge of Canada's tree line, where polar bears prowl the tundra under the dancing lights of the northern sky, a Barbadian flag vessel was at port one recent evening, its crew sweeping aside snow to fill its holds with grain for shipment direct to Europe.
While politicians debate the validity of global warming, some shippers are voting with their boats, quietly shifting marine routes to Churchill, Canada's northernmost industrial harbor. After decades of ignoring the only major port on the Hudson Bay because of ice hazards, shippers are finding that the retreating ice cover is putting Churchill on the map. By docking at this sub-Arctic outpost of 1,100 residents, oceangoing ships benefit from rail links to the prairie heartlands of Canada and the United States, the world's largest wheat exporting nations. And their business is much to the benefit of Omnitrax Inc., the Denver-based company that bought the port and access railroad in 1997.
''Omnitrax are aggressive, and they are enticing cargo through the Port of Churchill, and if it's going through the Port of Churchill, we want to ship it,'' said Thomas Paterson, a vice president of Fednav Ltd., an international shipping company based in Montreal.