North Pole New Shipping, Tourism Destination
Pugh first, but probably not last Arctic swimming thrill seeker (Courtesy LewisPugh.com)
A researcher at the Polar Institute has predicted that if this summer season turns out as warm as 2007's, Arctic Ocean ice around the North Pole may give way to open water this year. Dr. Olav Orheim, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, said the media played up news last fall that the fabled Northwest Passage shipping "short cut" was ice-free, but even more surprising news was the huge size of the ice-free area - a stretch from Alaska to Siberia - and the shrinking mass of the sea ice to a new low of 3 million square kilometers.
Despite the fact that Arctic Sea ice has recovered some area during this winter, Orheim is worried that lack of sea ice will greatly increase shipping along the Bering Strait - shippers are already making plans and nations are jockeying for position - thus raising the possibility of oil spills into the delicate Arctic eco-system. In addition, Orheim foresees ice-free seas will increase cruise ship tourism to the Arctic. Last September extreme swimmer Lewis Gordon Pugh was the first to finish a shivering kilometer of swimming in open Arctic waters - by this summer if the trends continue Orheim expects more tourists to trek to a new warmer globe destination: the ice-free North Pole. Via Aftenposten.no (Norwegian)