Access to Arctic shipping routes will become increasingly viable as the century progresses. However, at least in the short term, Arctic shipping will continue to be high risk because the length of seasons are variable and unpredictable, and because narrow, obstructive passages, or ‘choke points’, will appear along shipping routes. Future exploitation of these routes is likely to rely heavily on ice-breaking technologies and investment in extensive ice level forecasting.
The study’s authors note that the model used may be overly conservative, and that Arctic Ocean access could increase faster than predicted. They also acknowledge the difficulties of accurately modelling complex coastal areas, particularly through the Northwest Passage.