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Docking the Northern Sea Route and the Sea Silk Road:
Asia-Pacific Monsoons and Long-Range Forecast for the Navigation Season

Elena Surovyatkina
(IKI RAS, Moscow, Russia)


The unprecedented melting of sea ice in the Arctic opens broad prospects for developing the shortest trade route from Europe to Asia along the Northern Sea Route (NSR). On the one hand, the integration of the Northern Sea Route and the Sea Silk Road will allow China to expand the export of its goods to European countries, and on the other hand, the export of Russian mineral resources to China. Such a "docking" will have a significant impact on the global economy as a whole.

Currently, the main problem of the Northern Sea Route is the harsh environmental conditions of the North. Specifically, most importantly, it is the presence of sea ice. On average, the ice-free period lasts from July to October. However, according to many years of observations, the ice season's start and end dates vary from year to year within a month.

Such variability is impossible to capture by meteorological methods with limiting predictability for 10 days.

As a result, currently, there are no forecasts for the start and end of the ice season's specific dates. Thus, there is no navigation period's exact length (when the waterway is free of ice and open for the vehicles' movement) for the NSR. At present, the absence of a long-term forecast for the navigation period of the NSR affects the safety of navigation, northern import, and the reliability of transit traffic and transportation of hydrocarbons from production sites. In the future, the inability to plan navigation can become a severe obstacle for implementing plans for the construction of the NSR infrastructure and its integration into the global system.

The presented study aims to reveal the climatic variability of the Asia-Pacific monsoon system. The results allow creating a new conceptual approach for forecasting the navigation period of the Northern Sea Route, which will allow the development of a long-term forecast for the start and end dates of the ice-free period of more than 30 days in advance.

A conceptually new approach to forecasting the navigation period of the Northern Sea Route will be developed. It allows for planning the navigation season in the Chukchi Sea, the Bering Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk. It will significantly contribute to the safety of navigation, the development of seaports, and strengthening the defense system along the Northern Sea Route.