The Use of the Northern Sea Route and its Effect on Climate Change

By: Faizi Javaid | December 2014

Due to Climate Change, The Northern Sea Route in Russia is becoming more accessible. Usually the route only opens for two months annually. Due to arctic ice sheets melting, it is gradually becoming more unnaturally available. This is important because the increased shipping between several European countries stimulate more pollutants, acting as a catalyst for greater environmental damage. Also as stated in The Inuit Circumpolar Conference in 2012, the trade has the potential to hurt indigenous marine mammals, therefore upsetting an ecosystem. Basically, these countries are making short term gains for long term losses that affect everyone. I predict economic incentives, external global organizations and political power have the ability and authority to persuade countries involved and develop a more sustainable outcome, making a positive sum game.

Key words: North Sea Route, International Relations, Climate Change, Russia, United States, international trade, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, reduction of sea ice

The continuous use of The Northern Sea Route will lead to short term gain and long term losses as governments, corporations and special interest groups utilize climate change in exchange for profit. By assessing and analyzing the current situation through hard and soft science, one comprehends how accelerating the thawing of ice leads to profit on domestic and international levels. By examining history, geopolitics, sociology, biology and transportation of the region, one gains a holistic perspective of how The NSR affects so many citizens and countries.

The NSR is a sea route covering Novaya Zemlya to The Bering Strait. Its length varies from 2200 to 2900 miles. Founded in 1648, mapped in 1728, it has been used by Imperial Russia, The USSR and now The Russian Federation (Franckx, The Legal Regime of Navigation In The Russian Arctic, 327). Its first initiative to open foreign navigation was in 1967 by Soviet Minister of Merchant Marine, Viktor Bekayev. The NSR is imperative to travel, profit and to arctic environment. Instead of navigating transportation vessels from China to The Suez Canal, the route provides a faster alternative from Rotterdam to China along the Russian coast. It cuts travel time by twelve days, removes political instability The Suez Canal in Egypt presents yet the time frame for passage is only open between July and November.

Although Russia’s fundamental rules & regulations for The NSR hasn’t changed since 1990, four additional laws on navigation, icebreaking and guiding have been implemented. Efforts to modernize laws with climate change occurred 1999 when the nation overhauled its Commercial Navigation Code. It consisted of three essential parts: a general overview, detailed navigation dealing with icebreakers and salvage & rescue (Franckx, 336). Other nations insist that Russia’s perspective on the length of The NSR isn’t in proportion and remains encompassing. Russia promotes their comparative advantage of The NSR by relying on The Sector Degree which states that all sea, ice and land in Soviet areas belongs to Soviets. Coincidentally, Russian law contradicts itself as The Federal Act of 1988 stated part of The NSR’s exclusive economic zone is not internationally protected (Franckx, 333). An economic exclusive zone is an area where a nation has recognized rights to manage their natural resources. Although one cannot own waters, they own a portion nearby which other nations cannot interfere with.

Finally, the legal regime of navigation has a law ensuring source pollution standards near The NSR are stricter than typical MARPOL requirements. The law measures the amount of bilge water discharged and resolves the enforcement problem by rejecting ships that do not comply. Before any vessel from any nation uses The NSR, it must apply four months in advance. This allows The Russian Administration in Moscow to inspect the vessel’s history and reply in adequate time before the window closes and winter returns.

Although Erik Franckx’s article provides substantial history, it does not acknowledge solutions preventing climate change. Besides The MARPOL strict scrutiny test, the author already sounds skeptical. He feels that The NSR will be fully operational and a more popular course in the future. Having no faith in The UN Security Council to create and enforce a binding resolution among great and emerging powers to dismiss The NSR for a hypothetical economic incentive, the author incorporates realism into his argument. Although climate change does not occur overnight, potential resolutions are not clearly drawn. The legal regime enforces and bolsters short term gains by protecting them from social and environmental scrutiny. The more popular The NSR becomes, the more vessels will break ice and accelerate rising sea levels. The Arctic will gradually become a location where ice thaws quicker than present rates. The pollution that stems from transportation ships will augment annually. With only a four month window before water freezes, countries will be seeking to make the most out of this cost effective path.

By incorporating history into modern times, one can learn more about The NSR’s current use. According to Margaret Blunden’s Geopolitics and The NSR, climate change and technological innovation must be present to navigate The NSR (Blunden, Geopolitics and The NSR, 115). Due to a lack in both, alternative networks of routes between The Bering Strait and Novaya Zemlya are likely. This isn’t the first time Russia was not prepared for tech absorption and advancement. Soviet traffic along The NSR peaked in 1987, and then abruptly deteriorated due to their economy. Mikhail Gorbachev’s democratic reforms broke the transport system. This made the amount of traffic decline. USSR was forced to cut back due to scarcity of fuel, parts, maintenance failure and poor quality of recruitment of labor (Brubaker, Ostreng, The Northern Sea Route Regime: Exquisite Superpower Subterfuge, 303). The ports were lost to nearby satellite states as Russia became more isolated.

History plays a role in this debate because Russia does not want to make the same mistakes they did in the past. A foreign ideology that was unsuitable for USSR led to its demise. Their political and economic system was unable to absorb a completely different philosophy. Vladimir Putin today acknowledges Gorbachev’s mistakes and comprehends the strategic worth of The NSR. If instability and regime change occurs now, it won’t be from differences in approach to profit but from excessive authoritarianism as his reign has lasted for almost a decade.

Instead of comprehending the costs and benefits through an environmental lens, national, economic and security steers Russia’s arctic policy. Commercial interests also ignore risk tradeoffs that occur in sustainable development. Their perspective is narrowed to producing trade, transit and transnationalism of resources. At a minimum, their organizational bias disregards informal social laws while keeping within international law. At a maximum, shipping companies will acknowledge climate change as a serious problem, donate monetary funds to balance their image and prestige and find alternative navigable waterways producing similar results. Yet The NSR will always remain.

Russia’s current doctrine states it will build infrastructure along its 17,500km coastline (Blunden, Geopolitics and The NSR, 116). In order to reap the route’s benefits, a nation might employ brinkmanship risk taking and innovation. All three combined provide defense, deterrence and swaggering as short term gain needs to channel self interest to succeed. In a self help world, this seismic decision would give a country an advantage but at the cost of being neglected by others and the environment. According to The United States, Russia building this lengthy path violates international norms and customs as this length cannot all be within its economic exclusive zone, thus creating a security dilemma. As one country’s security rises, the insecurity of another ascends as well.

Changes in transportation routes are often linked to shifts in political and economic power. If climate change is successful, The NSR would mark an adjustment in world power. As Alfred Mahan demonstrated, the use and control of the sea has been a decisive factor in history (Blunden, 116). Mahan illustrates that sea power equals sea trade. If one expands their route, they’ll receive the security of major trade channels. An example is when America broke off Panama from Colombia and built a canal to decrease trade & travel cost. If one modifies water routes, they directly modify economic and political influence.

This is how The Northwest Passage affects countries on a global scale. Just as water widens with permafrost thawing quicker every year, there are shifts in power as well. As more countries gain entry to the passage, Russia benefits off of transit fees, greater access to goods, an increase in security and the land nearby grows tremendously in strategic worth. The typical route from The Strait of Malacca to The Suez Canal is vulnerable to congestion and accidents. It is projected by 2018, a hundred thousand more freight traffic transit vessels will have passed, increased the value of the arctic, Russia and The NSR (Blunden, 117).

Hoping to curb congestions by using The NSR, some nations are conducting experimental voyages every summer. Germany saved three thousand miles and three hundred thousand dollars per vessel, a task many want to replicate. The NSR represents global strategic worth yet besides being a water route, it plays a vital role to the region’s natural resources. Hard minerals and hydrocarbons drive marine transport development aside the route (Blunden, 118).An example of how The NSR merges with extracting natural resources is when Norilsk Nickel delivered its millionth ton from Siberia to Rotterdam in 2010. Along with both canals and The Cape of Good Hope, these routes are approaching their carrying capacity.

Despite piracy contributing to eight trillion dollars a year near The Aden Coast, it remains a minor threat. What has many fearful instead is instability in particular countries that could produce a chain link reaction, leading to grave uncertainty. Unrest in Yemen, Northern Kenya and Somalia reverberate tension and insecurity to foreign vessels drifting by. One might theorize using the hydra effect to their advantage as where one route closes, two more open. The E.U. has stated increasing the number of navigable waterways, along with extending capacity on existing routes will inevitably attract more traffic to The NSR (Blunden, 119). Along with shifts in economic geography favoring the use of The Northwest Passage, The E.U. fears laws and regulations will prevent them from trade as a major barrier to entry remains The Ilulissat Declaration.

Although The British and Dutch are lagging behind in the race for space, East Asia is in a rush to improve their impact on the global movements of goods & services at sea. With a shift in focus moving north, Japan finds itself at the end at the end of two seas, needing The NSR as an entryway. South Korea has expressed interest with the massive amounts of hydrocarbon waiting to be extracted since 2002, when it built Ny-Alesund research base in Svalbard (Blunden, 125). China will have the most at stake because the nation is heavily dependent on global shipping. Almost half of its GDP derives from shipping as it is a powerful manufacturer.

With numerous countries vying for economic prosperity at the expense of accelerating sea levels, fragmentation and lack of cooperation is always present. In 2010, Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky said Russia would not give up an inch in The Arctic. Meanwhile, public opinion polls in Iceland represent not all Icelanders appreciate President Grimsson’s fervor negotiating with China on this issue (Blunden, 128). If disunity and debate is a factor even in bilateral trade agreements, then its role will be more prevalent in the worldwide arena. President Grimsson’s enthusiasm does not resonate with Northeastern Icelanders because of China vying to purchase three hundred square kilometers with unclear objectives.   Vysotsky’s comments are conventional, despite the recent gas deal Russia just did with China. His use of swaggering is a method of his nation saving face despite conceding resource power to China’s National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

Margaret Blunden’s Geopolitics and The NSR, present significant variables worth analyzing. Her mention of sea trade, The NSR expanding, its legal ramifications and how sovereign nations act portray a realistic view to countries in an anarchical society. Although her analysis lacks clarity on what preventive measures countries will take to ensure their stake in this route (such as Holland and England), her article confirms how complex a transboundary issue this remains.

Finally, Russia’s geopolitical stance with China on The NSR is examined in Stephen J. Blank’s Enter Asia: The Arctic Heats Up. Russia and China have interlinked history over land due to the vastness of The Manchu Qing Dynasty (Blank, Enter Asia: The Arctic Heats Up, 19). Despite borders being drawn, China insists areas of Russia’s far east, are disputable. The recent gas deal in October 2013 signaled that Russia is less insecure near their shared border. President Putin agreeing to China’s terms on oil fields in East Siberia demonstrated that power is persuasive. China has begun to use their economic status to gain territory, showing that fiscal power can be transformed into political power. Power remains fungible.

China’s interests in The NSR have propelled greater insecurity than President Putin imagined. Their decision to install a second icebreaker, launch three scientific expeditions in The Arctic, roll out mining energy deals in Iceland and use ten percent of their global trade from The NSR puts Russia in a serious dilemma (Blank, 20). The scramble over who benefits most reminds one of the scramble for Africa as European nations rushed and fought over territory in the continent. As eight European countries deliberated over territory, the same is seen today with The NSR. Instead of arguments over land, confrontations are made over sea, renewable and nonrenewable resources and trade.

Part of Russia seceding valuable land originates from Putin unable to distance himself from oil and gas. Hydrofracking has tilted the balance of resource management and power to The United States as it becomes less foreign dependent. America’s use of hydraulic fracturing has led to less reliance, an increase in supplying South America and increasing its status as a hegemon. Despite being a top ten economy, Russia’s consistent dependency on a single resource has drained its economic model. Growth rates are falling and their investments are mounting up debt. This places more pressure and insecurity on The Kremlin as their major source of nonrenewable energy is being strategically picked apart by dozens of nations.

Stephen J. Blank’s Enter Asia: The Arctic Heats Up provides a useful commentary on China’s specific role in The NSR. By narrowly tailoring his article to one country, he examines China’s ambitions on sea fare, mining and exploration. Blank’s article serves as an example of China’s ability to coerce and deter others. Russia accepted China’s explorations while Iceland consented to China building mining infrastructure off its coast. Blank’s work reminds all that the world is more mulitpolar, causing greater conflict among those wanting to prosper.

Although geopolitics plays a central part in The NSR, it is not the only theme worth mentioning. A question stemming from asymmetrical information is the exact amount of resources The NSR and The Arctic has acquired. Since nations are rational actors, the proper amount of resources will determine how sensitive nations are to cost. Russia’s arctic zone is the source of all of its diamonds and almost all platinoids, nickel, cobalt and copper. A fourth of Russia’s energy reserves lay in arctic regions (Kovalev & Gainutdinova, Opening Up The Arctic, 79). Russia’s initial reserve of hydrocarbon under the continental shelf estimates 76.4 trillion m³ of gas and 15.1 billion tons of oil (Kovalev & Gainutdinova, 80). This abundant amount of hydrocarbon would make it the world’s largest energy reserve outside of The Middle East.

This impressive stock of elements will predictably reinforce Russia’s use of Article II; Rule I of The UN Charter. The Organization is based in principle of sovereign equality of all its members. Since The Russian Federation is a member of The UN; it will invoke not only international law and norms but constitutional acts to protect its resources. Since The NSR connects three seas, disputes are more likely to occur before a committed binding resolution is passed. Currently, Russia and Norway have a difference of opinion in ownership of The Fedynskii Seamount. The Seamount foreshadows more debate as it contains 10 trillion m³ of gas, which is disrupted by the demarcation line running directly through it (Kovalev & Gainutdinova, 80).

With tension mounting and uncertainty escalating, solutions are imperative. An agreement to centralize Russian administration of The NSR offers a solution to domestic instability. If NSR is unified, allocation of resources would run smoother, lowering Russian insecurity of nearby satellite states. A solution to Russia’s Fedynskii Seamount dilemma would be to remark or remove the demarcation line. Another possibility would be a bilateral agreement to split the cubic meters of gas evenly. By 2020, there will be 35 million tons of natural gas and oil moving along The NSR (Kovalev & Gainutdinova, 81). Working towards realistic and fair agreement now will set proper precedents for the future.

Kovalev & L. Gainutdinova’s work provides quantitative data essential to understanding Russia’s assets along The NSR. Her statistics remove much exaggeration, misconception and asymmetrical information that states produce in order to appear more weak or powerful. By analyzing Russia’s assets, one gains insight on how the country can incorporate domestic & international law to its advantage. Finally, current problems can be solved through bargaining and enforcement.

Despite geopolitics having a significant affect on The NSR, the route also changes environmental and social dynamics. Man made affects of climate change create a tremendous amount of activity. Industrial emissions, deforestation, hypoxia, runoff, an increase in greenhouse gases and destroying biodiversity all contribute to future instability and entropy, especially in The Arctic. As described in Lawrence C. Smith’s Agents of Change in the New North, The Northern Rim’s polar species face new competition, food web disturbances and abnormal species interaction. The animals must also adapt to shrinking sea ice, winter rain on snow events, deeper snowpack and altered hydrology (Smith, Agents of Change in the New North, 42). Man made emissions have led to fluctuations in animal lifestyle. If The NSR continues to thaw as more vessels are sent, the battle for sustainable development will tilt in the favor of profit, not ecosystems.

Smith’s work also focuses on social dynamics of Russians. Russia’s population will decline 17% by 2050 due to low fertility rates, decline in median life expectancy, an aging population and a decline in net migration (Smith, 34). Despite Putin’s plan to recruit expats, more people are dying than being born. This quantitative data suggests in order for Russia to gain their comparative advantage using The NSR, they must also rely on social sciences. Social, economic and political trends & models reflect the degree to The NSR’s success. Climate change, resource exploitation, and migration are the three most powerful forces affecting the north (Smith, 30). If Russia is unable to adapt to changes in population, animal diversity, inclement weather and more, they’ll be trapped in an unsustainable systemic model.

Another perspective of examining and analyzing social aspects of The NSR is by understanding the social impact assessment it has on nearby land. In Social Impact Assessment along Russia’s Northern Sea Route, one learns more. The SIA’s main task is to assess socio-cultural impacts of shipping along The NSR on indigenous people with the purpose of highlighting needs and priorities from a local perspective (Meschtyb, Forbes, Kankaanpää, Social Impact Assessment along Russia’s Northern Sea Route: Petroleum Transport and the Arctic Operational Platform (ARCOP), 322). This project also allows scholars an opportunity to monitor changes like implementation by companies of their obligation toward eco safety and local civilians (Meschtyb, Forbes, Kankaanpää, 323).

Yet what social issues are presented? Local Nenet villagers worry about their water, land and biodiversity being affected by casual oil spills and private fishing. Despite acquiring several hectares for reindeer herding with laws protecting their land (Meschtyb, Forbes, Kankaanpää, 324), Nenets feel apprehensive of more transportation vessels arriving. Past failures of rules & regulation such as pipelines breaking in 2002 (which relocated 20,000 herders), symbolize the vulnerability The NSR has on landowners living in Russia. Once again, the struggle in sustainable development is presented. Although The NSR does promote job employment, local companies hire workers from other regions (Meschtyb, Forbes, Kankaanpää, 326). Although pipelines along The NSR do increase the land’s strategic worth, it comes at the price of relocation, harming wildlife and making land nonrenewable.

Another key issue The NSR forces onto Nenets is reindeer herding. Herding is significant in employment, food and also for their cultural identity. It is the basis for their eco-knowledge and the core of their beliefs & values. It also remains the primary source for bartering goods & services (Meschtyb, Forbes, Kankaanpää, 324). Although reindeer herding is essential to all parts of their land, The NSR places greater burden on rural villagers. Urban locals develop a short term gain from The NSR’s boom of trade & transit due to greater transportation access and job employment from oil fields. Rural locals suffer greater consequences as their food resources (elk, fish, and reindeer) are hunted to feed urban workers. Not only do we see the trend of short term gain for long term loss on an international level, we also witness it on a domestic level.

With an increase in sea trade disrupting natural ecosystems, solutions are imperative. Meschtyb, Forbes and Kankaanpää suggest three solutions: Direct consultation with communities, follow environmental law and fulfill legal obligations (Meschtyb, Forbes, Kankaanpää, 325). Although these alternatives are plausible, they present flaws. Direct communication is a proper fundamental basis for any situation but companies tend not to follow environmental law and fulfill legal obligations. The Kremlin acted on Nenet concerns after the 2002 spill. Nevertheless, Meschtyb, Forbes, Kankaanpää present a unique local perspective necessary and complementary to The NSR. By addressing flaws in the past, Russia can prevent future pipelines along the route from leaking.

The NSR has been examined and investigated through a geopolitical, social and environmental lens yet it needs a scientific approach to provide a more holistic interpretation. One can learn more by examining Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Norwegian and Russian Arctic Marine Sediments PAHs are key contaminants of concern under The Arctic Environmental Monitoring Program (AEMP) due to their carcinogenic potential (Dahle, et. al, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Norwegian and Russian Arctic Marine Sediments, 41). AEMP’s experiment in Norwegian and Russian seas found naphthalene and phenathrene as their most popular particle found in sediments. Both are carcinogenic and endorse the idea that workers extracting hydrocarbons are exposed to chemicals without consent. If The NSR continues on its path towards transporting more & more vessels, then more people from various countries will be exposed to these carcinogenic particles. Their time from Novaya Zemlya to The Bering Strait could be a health hazard. Now the short term gain becomes profit but the long term loss is one’s health.

Another scientific study that offers a distinct perspective on The NSR is on the reduction of sea ice. The reduction rate of sea ice from 1979 to 2012 was 13% per decade. At this rate, the majority of sea ice in The Arctic will vanish in fifty years (Kohn, Estimating Changes of Wind-Wave Activity in the Arctic Ocean in the 21St Century Using the Regional Climate Model, 1027). The affects of global warming will result in an increase in extreme waves deriving from different parts of The Arctic Basin. Although climate change produces positive aspects for The NSR, it also makes negative consequences as well. Currently, The NSR’s icy path will thaw to water at the price of rising sea levels. These sea levels will create unnatural climatic events as they combine with Arctic wind wave activity.

Kohn’s hypothesis entails wave heights will grow by two meters by 2060 (Kohn, 1028). This additional six feet of waves will be detrimental to anyone on board any vessel near The NSR. Analyzing The NSR’s use through a scientific lens allows one to objectively look at the costs & benefits of the route. While the sea route will bring in profit by cutting travel time by weeks, it will also infect people with carcinogens and inclement weather caused by persistent man made decisions.

Finally, studying the type of icebreakers being built for NSR and people onboard provides clarity on route’s objectives. Analyzing the ships and vessels themselves assures countries if the path is even viable. Ship safety not only depends on engineering and structuring capabilities but acclimating to environmental settings. In a case study determining which type of ship has the greatest success; results showed PC3 did favorably well compared to PC6 and OW (Stephenson, et. al, Projected 21st century changes to Arctic marine access, 890). PC3’s infrastructure proved to adapt to harsh, unexpected weather. It also had less mechanical failure than PC6 and OW. This case study will allow various countries to narrowly tailor their search to manufacture and assemble a specific kind of vessel that will safely guide people onboard.

The icebreaker case study presented the template of ship travel along The NSR. By examining Development of Arctic Transportation in Russia, one grasps the amount of PC3 ships built and by whom. Today, seven nuclear and four diesel icebreakers belonging to Atomflot (A Russian Company) are working along Novaya Zemlya. By 2020, three additional modern icebreakers will be installed (Zelentsov, Development of Arctic Transportation in Russia, 13). The more icebreakers manufactured, the more money and time is saved. Typical international results can save cargo deliveries fifteen days and economize $500,000 per voyage. Domestic icebreakers will save $100,000 per voyage (Zelentsov, 13).

From a transportation standpoint, NSR’s effectiveness will rely on the progress of transport service markets. Although the aim is to reduce transport expenses, increase reliability of import and modernize transportation (Zelentsov, 14), nations worry if modern technological advances can keep up with climate change. This is the key to sustainable development’s predicament. Developed and developing countries want the financial edge but they themselves realize the route can lead to harmful outcomes. The possibility of Icebreakers getting stuck permanently lingers and leave members stranded.

Finally, one examines the transportation case study conducted in Icebreakers in the Far East of Russia and in the Arctic, viewing how icebreakers operate on a larger scale. This voyage to the North and Atlantic was carried out by fifteen PC3 vessels with diesel electric propulsion. Their journey also provided goods to the eastern sector of The Arctic (Verevkin, Icebreakers in the Far East of Russia and in the Arctic, 91). This is the only case study clearly showing the type of people on these trips. Skilled engineers and electricians are present to fix any unforeseen mechanical failure. Radio ops are available to signal if anyone on an icebreaker becomes stranded. Sailors are used to navigate the boats and divers are used to recover specific sediments that signal areas of hydrocarbon.

Verevkin’s work also entails which specific brands of PC3 are best used for lengthy journeys. The appropriate styles of PC3 to employ are one with a main power plant on alternating current with median speed diesel generators. Another format of PC3 icebreakers are ones using electricity with fixed propeller blades that eliminate chances of propeller damage (Verevkin, Icebreakers in the Far East of Russia and in the Arctic, 93).

A source that relates The NSR to modern day events is Kenneth Schortgen Jr’s commentary on the security dilemma between Russia and Sweden. Russia said they sent their military to protect an Arctic oil region after Sweden deployed troops. This signals that Russia has insecurity issues not only with China and Norway but Sweden as well. An additional news source is Matti Huuhtanen’s NATO intercepts Russian jets over Baltic Sea. The article touches on NATO using fighter jets twice in two days to intercept Russian military aircraft over the Baltic Sea. The article symbolizes the fog countries have in international actions. While one nation believes they did nothing wrong to increase their security, another insists they have crossed international boundaries and norms. If nations are already debating about what they currently have, one can only imagine the lengths they will deliberate using The NSR.

The NSR presents positive & negative aspects and situations. It is proven to increase trade, jobs, technology and monetary funds. It also decrease travel time and congestion from The Suez Canal. It also proven to increase casual oil spill, hurt local landowners, increase security dilemmas within vying nations and accelerate climate change. A clear example of the struggle of sustainable development is seen in The NSR.

The continuous use of The Northern Sea Route will lead to short term gain and long term losses as governments, corporations and special interest groups utilize climate change in exchange for profit. By assessing and analyzing the current situation through hard and soft science, one comprehends how accelerating the thawing of ice leads to profit on domestic and international levels. By examining history, geopolitics, sociology, biology and transportation of the region, one gains a holistic perspective of how The NSR affects so many citizens and countries.

Featured Image Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo

Annotated bibliography

Blank, Stephen J. 2014. “ENTER ASIA: The Arctic Heats Up.” World Affairs 176, no. 6: 19-28. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost

ENTER ASIA: The Arctic Heats Up touches on The Northern Sea Route. It goes in-depth as to what it is, why it has national interests and what economic factors are in play for countries wanting a comparative advantage. This article is valuable to my research because it provides a critical overview; assessing the situation by using soft and hard science seamlessly. By combining qualitative & quantitative data, it bolsters the argument of countries relying on short term gain for long term losses.

Khon, V. “Estimating Changes Of Wind-Wave Activity In The Arctic Ocean In The 21St Century Using The Regional Climate Model.” Doklady Earth Sciences 452.2 (2013): 1027-1029. Academic Search Complete.

Estimating Changes of Wind-Wave Activity in The Arctic Ocean In The 21st Century Using The Regional Climate Model is about how since The 1970s, satellite data has captured evidence illustrating the reduction in sea ice in The Arctic. This article correlates with my research because I wanted to know how economic trade impacts The Arctic Ocean. I wanted to know what results occur when ships and boats begin to move more often and what effects stem from that result. That movement also disrupts fishing and shelf exploration, causing greater entropy. It is essential to use hard data when researching a topic that integrates social and hard sciences.

Stephenson, Scott, et al. “Projected 21St-Century Changes To Arctic Marine Access.” Climatic Change 118.3/4 (2013): 885-899. Academic Search Complete.

Projected 21St-Century Changes To Arctic Marine Access relates to Arctic events in the future. This article is vital to my research topic because it demonstrates what will occur and who will do it. Governments, economic organizations and the maritime business will all by vying to utilize this unnatural trade route for profit while downplaying their effects on the biodiversity and environment. If these projections are accurate, then informing citizens now can stop environmental damage in the future.

Zelentsov, Vladilen V. “Development of Arctic Transportation in Russia.” Asia-Pacific Journal of Marine Science & Education 2.2 (2012): 9-16. Academic Search Complete.

Development Of Arctic Transportation In Russia is on current developments in The Arctic. The Northern Sea Route still has enough ice to deter transportation but with its ice caps dissolving, it cannot last forever. This report is imperative to my research because its realistic perspective allows for greater clarity. It also complements Projected 21St-Century Changes To Arctic Marine Access well because of the urgency to develop and sustain a federal law with an appropriate administration.

Verevkin, Vladimir F. “Icebreakers in the Far East of Russia and In the Arctic.” Asia-Pacific Journal Of Marine Science & Education 2.2 (2012): 91-95. Academic Search Complete.

Icebreakers in the Far East of Russia and in the Arctic touches on icebreaking ships presently used for transportation. It also talks on major issues The Northern Sea Route is experiencing due to excessive navigation from Asia to Europe. I chose this article because it is different from the others. Instead of projecting the future or viewing the mistakes of the past, it focuses on the current dilemma. Since this is ongoing, tentative solutions are presently available and I want to know what is effective and what is not.

Kovalev, S., L. Gainutdinova. “Opening Up The Arctic.” Russian Politics & Law 50.2 (2012): 78-87. Academic Search Complete.

Opening Up The Arctic specifically targets Russia and their future decisions with The Northern Sea Route. Although Russia does have the most to gain economically when the route thaws, it can also have the most to lose when it comes to resources. The article is imperative because Russia has a great incentive to protect the route from others. If it decides to, then less environmental damage is likely. If it decides to allow greater access, then the opposite occurs. The Northern Sea Route has become entangled with social, economic and political implications, making this article worthwhile.

BLUNDEN, MARGARET. “Geopolitics And The Northern Sea Route.” International Affairs 88.1 (2012): 115-129. Academic Search Complete.

Geopolitics And The Northern Sea Route returns the examining lens back to how The Northern Sea Route impacts the world through a geopolitical perspective. This article is essential to my case study because it directly aligns with my research. It provides multiple viewpoints on the issue, creating a holistic approach to problems and resolutions. It does an efficient job at relating how this route can affect powerful non-arctic state actors and what to expect when the route finally thaws. Geopolitics is only a piece of the puzzle in this situation but contributes to a grandeur sense of what is occurring in The Northern Sea Route.

Smith, Laurence C. “Agents Of Change In The New North.” Eurasian Geography & Economics 52.1 (2011): 30-55. Academic Search Complete.

Agents of Change in the New North was a significant article I had to use in my research paper. The work connects to my case because it includes social and geophysical projections on The Northern Rim as well as other places. Its focus on resource exploitation speeding up climate change directly affects The Northern Sea Route. It also assists in understanding the sovereignty issue at stake once ice melts and water appears.

Franckx, Erik. “The Legal Regime Of Navigation In The Russian Arctic.” Journal Of Transnational Law & Policy 18.2 (2009): 327-342. Academic Search Complete.

Using The Legal Regime of Navigation in the Russian Arctic in my research was informative and useful. This article illustrates the political spectrum of the issue, citing laws, texts, and norms that were adopted to regulate the current day Northern Sea Route. It shows the history of the route from a legal standpoint and how rules are enforced. This article can help one understand notions like why a nation cannot take over the route on by itself and why these rules are followed while some are not.

Dahle, Salve, et al. “Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (Pahs) In Norwegian And Russian Arctic Marine Sediments: Concentrations, Geographical Distribution And Sources.” Norwegian Journal Of Geology / Norsk Geologisk Forening 86.1 (2006): 41-50. Academic Search Complete.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Norwegian and Russian Arctic Marine Sediments was used to bolster quantitative data on how human impact will affect The Northern Sea Route. The PAHs found in The Arctic have the potential to produce carcinogenic material. This coming from natural and unnatural resources influences my research in promoting the idea that human activity must decline in order for the route to survive. Although one cannot stop the erosion of fossil carbon up north, one can prevent petroleum spills that contribute to PAHs. This article was helpful in teaching me that not all pollution is manmade.

Meschtyb, Nina A., Forbes, Bruce C., Kankaanpää Paula. “Social Impact Assessment Along Russia’s Northern Sea Route: Petroleum Transport And The Arctic Operational Platform (ARCOP).” Arctic 58.3 (2005): 322-327. Academic Search Complete.

Social Impact Assessment along Russia’s Northern Sea Route accommodates my research project in describing social influences The Northern Sea Route has had, currently has and will have. By analyzing the social effects on how oil will be shipped in the future, it propels the theory that certain people (The Nenets) will benefit over others. The article does go into the safety and protocols of using the route for relative gains. Its optimistic view can be criticized as the route can be used for a zero sum game instead of a win-win situation. This article helped me comprehend how a sea trade route can affect the people at land.

Additional Sources

Brubaker, R. Douglas, and Willy Ostreng. “The Northern Sea Route Regime: Exquisite Superpower Subterfuge?.” Ocean Development & International Law 30.4 (1999): 299-331. Academic Search Complete.

HUUHTANEN, MATTI. “NATO Intercepts Russian Jets over Baltic Sea.” Yahoo! News. 21 Oct. 2014.

Schortgen Jr, Kenneth. “Russia Sends Military to Protect Arctic Oil Region after Sweden Deploys Troops.” Examiner. 22 Oct. 2014.

Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message
Skip to toolbar