Choosing a big story to kick off with was pretty easy. This week, it was announced that the famous Northwest Passage is open for the first time since records began. The Passage, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans along the coast of Canada, has always been impenetrable due to high levels of ice.
Now for the first time even boats with fibreglass hulls are able to make the journey, opening a major trade route. With the possibility that the Northeast Passage across the Arctic near Russia might soon be open too, expect a grand old tussle for the rights for the oil and gas previously hidden beneath the frozen depths. The unexpectedly fast melting is possibly due to a couple of feedback systems – the release of methane as permafrost melts and the albedo effect. As the average global temperature rises, the temperature of the Arctic is expected to increase by two or three times as much. [image courtesy of wikipedia commons.]