Ice conditions on the Northern Sea Route have improved, and the terms of a favorable navigation period have extended by an average of 3-4 decades, the press service of Roshydromet told IA REGNUM in response to a request from a news agency about the state of ice in the Arctic Ocean.
Roshydromet experts informed that compared to 1970-1980 years of the XX century, the area of ice cover in the Arctic Ocean in the winter season decreased by 700-800 thousand square kilometers (6-7%) due to less spread of ice cover in the Greenland and Barents Seas. In the summer season, it decreased significantly more - by 2200-2500 thousand square kilometers (35%).
If in the 1970s-1980s the Arctic Ocean was covered mostly with old and two-year ice (about 60%), the thickness of which averaged from 2.5 to 3.5 meters and more, and the share of first-year ice (thickness from 1.0 up to 1.5 m) was 40%, then in 2011-2020 first-year ice prevails, the share of which has increased to 60%, while the share of old and two-year ice, on the contrary, has decreased to 40%.
Clearing the coastal and central areas of the seas from ice compared to the 1970s occurs earlier by 2-2.5 decades. If in the 70s-80s of the last century the water area of the Arctic seas in the summer was cleared by a third in the summer, then in the last decade the seas are cleared by 2/3 of their water area. In this case, it becomes possible to use almost all standard sailing routes (coastal, central and seaward).
Roshydromet noted that in local areas of the NSR route, consolidated ice, spots, tongues of heavy ice that impede navigation may persist - in the Vilkitsky Strait and on approaches to it, in the eastern part of the East Siberian Sea (in the area of the Ayonsky ice massif), in which in 1983 the "Nina Sagaidak" ship was crushed in ice.
Roshydromet also recalled the importance of the ice cover of the Arctic Ocean as the most important part of the climatic system of the Earth's Northern Hemisphere: “It is this thin layer of ice located on the border of the atmosphere and the ocean that determines the most important processes of regulation of heat and energy flows that determine climatic changes”.
Источник: ИА REGNUM