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Northern Sea Route
The NorthEAST Passage is the sea route along the northern coast of Europe and Asia, joining the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This is a more practical route than through Arctic North America, and more vessels use this route than ever use the Northwest Passage.
The first icebreakers navigated the Northeast Passage in the early 1900s, and in the 1930s the "Northern Sea Route" was established by the USSR (now Russia). This system of sea lanes stretches approximately 5000 km / 3100 miles across the Russian maritime Arctic from the straits between the Barents and Kara seas (south of Novaya Zemlya) to the Bering Strait.
This part of the Arctic Ocean has not only become important to the development of Siberian resources - it also represents the shortest sea route from Europe to the Pacific Ocean and the Far East. However, difficult ice conditions present a problem for traffic.
The period of ice-free open waters near the coast only lasts from August to October, but a fleet of icebreakers (some nuclear-powered) was built to keep the sea lanes open as a regular shipping route. Aided by aircraft, satellites and weather stations, icebreakers and ice-strengthened carriers routinely travel these ice-covered waters throughout the winter.
In 1991 Russia opened the route to international traffic. Norway and Japan were among the first to start using the route, but the various risks of weather and ice have kept most foreign operators away.
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Library: Arctic, Ice
Links: Arctic, Boats & Ships
Arctic Maps & Weather Reports
DICTIONARY: Just "double-click" any unlinked word on this page for the definition from Merriam-Webster's Student Electronic Dictionary at Word Central.
ARCTIC LIBRARY & GLOSSARY: Check this section for an index of the rest of the things you really need to know about the Arctic.
ARCTIC MAPS & WEATHER REPORTS: Maps of the Northwest Passage, explorers' routes, iceberg sources, Nunavut, the Arctic by treeline, temperature...
ARCTIC LINKS: Even more information! Links to sites related to the Arctic and "Iceberg: the Story of the Throps and the Squallhoots".
GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?