Global warming over the next 40 years will cut through Arctic transportation networks like a double-edged sword, limiting access in certain areas and vastly increasing it in others, a new UCLA study predicts.
“As sea ice continues to melt, accessibility by sea will increase, but the viability of an important network of roads that depend on freezing temperatures is threatened by a warming climate,” said Scott Stephenson, a UCLA graduate student in geography and the study’s lead author.
Winners are expected to be coastal communities, coastal resource-extraction operations, tourism, fishing, and shipping concerns, the researchers say. Potential losers include inland mining and timber operations, inland oil and gas drilling, and smaller inland communities, often inhabited by indigenous peoples. Even northern Canadas famed Tibbitt-Contwoyto “diamond road,” said to be the worlds most lucrative ice road, is expected to suffer, according to the researchers.
The findings appear in the current issue of the peer-reviewed scholarly journal Nature Climate Change.