Northwest Passage closes early

Environment Canada reports that after decades of warming, the Northwest Passage is experiencing 60 percent more Arctic sea ice this year than at the same time last year. A number of yachts attempting to make their way through the passage have been caught by the growth of sea ice at key points at the eastern and western ends of the passage.

It is reported that at least 22 yachts and other vessels are in the Arctic and it remains to be seen what actions will be taken by the Canadian Coast Guard.

The first blockage area is at Prince Regent Inlet in position 73.7880535 N, -89.2529297 W which became blocked on Aug. 27. This effectively closed the 2013 Northwest Passage for those vessels without Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker escorts for transit. The alternative is a very technical and risky southern navigation through Fury and Hecla Strait mostly blocked with sea ice.

Another choke-point stopping marine traffic is on the western Canadian Arctic at Cape Bathurst in position 70.6672443 N, -128.2763672 W which became blocked with ice on Aug. 26.

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By Ocean Navigator