Alaskan deepwater sea ports to support trans - Arctic shipping

(Photo: Getty Images) Alaskan sea ports need to develop better marine infrastructure to become the Arctic strategic transhippment hub.(Photo: Getty Images) Alaskan sea ports need to develop better marine infrastructure to become the Arctic strategic transhippment hub.

Global climate change has already had observable effects on global environment, including the Arctic fragile ecosystems. The warming Arctic Ocean and melting of the Greenlandic sea ice causes the increase in the ship traffic though already established northern sea routes, but also creates new opportunities for not yet discovered passages.


Alaska, being located in the northwest extremity of the North American Continent, with Canada to the east, Arctic Ocean to the north and Russia further west across the Bering Strait, occurs as a strategic location for deep water transportation hub to arise.


Latest statistics show that the number of vessels crossing the Bering Strait, which is 53 miles wide at its narrowest point, has doubled in recent years. There were over 400 trips recorded and monitored by the U.S coast guard in 2011.


Currently, there are over 40 sea ports located in Alaska. The biggest, port of Anchorage, Valdez and Ketchikan are to become the key locations for new passenger and cargo shipping, tourism and resource development.


The lack of marine infrastructure of the AlaskanĀ“s little developed western and northern coasts occurs as a future challenge to not only the government of United States but also international, commercial companies which plan to explore the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in order to discover petroleum reserves.


Development of search and rescue presence in the Alaskan waters as well as maintenance, repair and transportation harbor services, including rail and road systems as well as whether stations are the main objectives for future organization of the new transshipment hub.


Decreasing Arctic ice will open opportunities also for ships without the ice breaking capabilities. How and where to build the deep water port which is capable of handling more and bigger vessels than the existing one, is now the important question for not only the government of United States but also the Arctic countries which will be interested in the Alaskan transshipment hub.

 

 

Source: University of Alaska, Fairbanks: Estimating Future Csts for Alaska Public Infrastructure at Risk from Climate Change

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