Abstract for: Shipping Dynamics of an Emerging Arctic

As the Arctic sea ice continues to recede into the mid twenty-first century, trans-Arctic shipping is becoming an enticing opportunity. Theoretically, an ice-free Northern Sea Route, (NSR) offers significantly decreased travel distance between Asia and Europe over the Suez Canal route, and thus, decreased fuel costs. Nevertheless, political, economic, and climatological factors inhibit its growth as a trade route. This paper expands upon the work of Hansen et. al, modeling their system of equations model as a comprehensive systems dynamics model examining under what conditions and to what extant the NSR could develop into a viable alternative to the existing Suez Canal given a company’s investment in a vessel with an ice-reinforced hull, Arctic temperature, oil price, potential tonnage shipped via the NSR compared to the Canal Route, with the fees and cost of operation in the competing Canal Route, ice-breaker availability, and political regulations serving as negative feedbacks. Our preliminary results indicate that investment in a reinforced vessel is positively associated with oil consumption and the total days of ice-free navigation, and that despite global warming increasing operational costs along the NSR slightly, the decision to use the Arctic as a shipping lane is positively associated with global warming.