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Warming climate opens late-season Arctic routes
Description: YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T. -- Arctic straits that are typically choked solid with ice this time of year remain completely open to shipping traffic late in October, raising profound issues for Canada as it struggles to maintain its grasp on the Arctic.
Date: 26 October 2006
Author: Nathan VanderKlippe
Source: Edmonton Journal
YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T. -- Arctic straits that are typically choked solid with ice this time of year remain completely open to shipping traffic late in October, raising profound issues for Canada as it struggles to maintain its grasp on the Arctic.


For the past week, the Canadian Coast Guard scientific icebreaker Amundsen has sailed east from the Nunavut hamlet of Kugluktuk, encountering virtually no resistance through straits that have for centuries been nearly impossible to traverse, even in summer.


"We actually went through Bellot Strait and Fury and Hecla Strait, which nobody has ever done this time of year," said Fisheries and Oceans researcher Gary Stern, who is serving as chief scientist aboard the Amundsen. "There was absolutely no ice."


In 1822, when Fury and Hecla Strait was discovered by explorer William Edward Parry, its ice remained so thick at the height of summer that he was forced to anchor his boats and cross by foot. As recently as 1999, Canada's most powerful icebreaker, the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, encountered so much ice during an August journey through the strait that she sustained damage to her propellers and could not move faster than 200 metres per hour.


But what is historic today could soon become routine as a warming climate melts the Northwest Passage.



Click here to read the full article featuring Michael Byers



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