Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 76 ›› Issue (5): 1051-1064.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202105001

• Research on the Arctic Region •     Next Articles

The evolution of navigation performance of Northeast Passage under the scenario of Arctic sea ice melting

HUANG Jixia1,2(), ZHANG Tianyuan3, CAO Yunfeng2, GE Quansheng1, YANG Linsheng1()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Beijing Key Laboratory of Precision Forestry, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
    3. State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2019-07-03 Revised:2020-11-05 Online:2021-05-25 Published:2021-07-25
  • Contact: YANG Linsheng;
  • Supported by:
    Chinese Academy of Sciences(ZDRW-ZS-2017-4);The Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA190705)


The global warming has led to the acceleration of the melting of Arctic sea ice, and the opening of the Polar Silk Road has gradually been put on the agenda. In this paper, according to the navigation performance of eight important Russian ports reaching the Bering Strait through the Northeast Passage from 2030 to 2070, the sea ice data of six CMIP5 climate models under two RCPs and two ship types of PC6 icebreaker and OW (merchant ship) ship are adopted. Based on the study of the four factors of optimal route, navigation time, navigable mileage and navigation cost, the main conclusions are as follows: (1) With the change of time, the optimal navigation routes are gradually concentrated and orderly. The navigation capacity of merchant ship has been significantly improved, and by 2070 it will have the same navigation capacity as the PC6 icebreaker has. (2) The navigation time between the Russian ports and the Bering Strait has decreased by 14 h every 10 a, of which St. Petersburg Port has the most significant decline. By 2070, when the longitude difference between the Russian port and the Bering Strait increases by 1°, the navigation time of the port decreases by 0.4 h. (3) In the next 50 a, the navigable mileage of Northeast Passage will increase by 166 km every 10 a, among which the change pattern and average change pattern of navigable mileage in St. Petersburg Port are the most similar. (4) The navigation cost of the route from the Arctic port is reduced by $10,000 every 10 a, and the decrease of the total navigation cost of merchant ships is the most obvious under high emission concentration. Combined with the change of sea ice, the ports in central and western Russia have great potential for resource transportation. This study quantifies and evaluates the evolution of the navigation performance of the Northeast Passage under the future sea ice melting situation, which provides theoretical and data support for the navigation of the Northeast Passage and the Arctic port trade.

Key words: global warming, Polar Silk Road, Northeast Passage, navigation performance