More maritime activity made possible with melting ice in Arctic Ocean

ARCTIC — Melting ice in the Arctic Ocean opens up more avenues for commercial and navy vessels. Rear Adm. Mat Winter, chief of naval research, is quoted as saying, “this changing environment is opening the Arctic for expanded maritime and naval activity. Developing a deeper understanding and knowledge of this environment is essential for reliable weather and ice predictions to ensure the safety of future scientific and operational activities in the region.”

Nautical activity has been limited to naval submarines in the Arctic due to the hidden dangers of ice. “As this frozen cover changes, it is opening new commercial shipping lanes; increasing oil and natural gas exploration, fishing, and tourism; and raising potential new security concerns. It also may create new requirements for the Navy’s surface fleet.”

Dr. Scott Harper, an Office of Naval Research (ONR) program officer overseeing the Marginal Ice Zone and Waves and Sea State research, points out that “having accurate forecasting models will help the Navy determine what types of surface vessels it will need to build in the near future and 30 years from now, to withstand the climate conditions. That way, the Navy can operate as safely and effectively in the Arctic as it does throughout the rest of the world.”

“Abundant sea ice reduces waves and swells, and keeps the Arctic Ocean very quiet,” Dr. Robert Headrick, an ONR program officer, said. “With increased sea ice melt, however, comes more waves and wind, which create more noise and makes it harder to track undersea vessels. The goal…is to gain a better and more comprehensive understanding of these changing oceanographic conditions.”


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