Ice road on Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, photo: Wikipedia.
A twist on the tale of Arctic development opened up by warming temperatures and melting ice: We know that oil companies are itching to explore in newly ice-free waters and that nations are already staking claims, but a new report in Nature Climate Change says that access to interior regions of northern latitudes may be cut off as melting ice and soil closes ice roads. The study projects that one ice road, serving several diamond mines in northern Canada, will lose 17% of its current ten week operating window due to warming temperatures and melting ice.
Reuters quotes report co-author Laurence Smith on the impact of the closing of these ice roads:
It's a resource frontier where we don't even know what all is there and I'm beginning to think we never will. These places are going to become wilder and the lands are going to be abandoned and revert to a wild state.
Which, frankly, doesn't seem like such a bad thing--even if the larger situation isn't so good.