A story on the BBC Business News website about the Northern Sea Route caught my eye:
Maersk said: "The trial passage will enable us to explore the operational feasibility of container shipping through the Northern Sea Route and to collect data."
There is generally a lot happening in Arctic sea ice news at this time of the year as we head to the annual summer minimum extent, and current sea ice extent is currently about 1.6 million km2 below the 1981-2010 mean.
Given that the trend of minimum ice extent has been relentlessly downwards since the start of the satellite record:
we could expect the Venta Maersk to have potentially an easy passage.
But that is rarely true in polar seas - even at the height of what will be the Arctic summer.
A look at the distribution of the current sea ice extent is interesting.
There is more sea ice in the East Siberian Sea than we could expect (~40% more than the 1989-93 mean), and a look at the latest "near real time" (end of April 2018) ice thickness data from CPOM show that the ice in this region was quite thick at the start of the summer melt season.
It is an interesting way to move a Baltic ship from it's build location in China to its planned operational area, and one to watch over the next month.
Interestingly if you look at the Cryosat sea ice thickness map north of Greenland you can see that at the end of the winter the sea ice thickness was already relatively low. (See the story in the Guardian: Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record). The thickest sea ice is further to the west north of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
*** UPDATE From Twitter
From Dr Stefan Hendricks at the Alfred Wegener Institute
**** Update 2 from Twitter
From Dr Ruth Mottram at the Danish Meteorological Institute.