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Who Owns the Northwest Passage

By Bob Ewing     Sep 15, 2007 in Environment
The sea ice that has historically made the Northwest Passage impassable is melting at a record rate and now this "Arctic Grail" is almost completely passable thus stirring up global controversy over who controls the Passage.
As the sea ice in the Artic shrinks to its lowest level since satellite record keeping began, the arguments over who controls the Northwest Passage grow.
The Passage is considered to be the most direct route from Asia to Europe and has been historically impassable.
The sea ice continues to melt year after year but this year, according to the European Space Agency the melt has made the Passage route "fully navigable" for the first time since satellite records began in 1978.
"We have seen the ice-covered area drop to just around three million square kilometers," said Leif Toudal Pederson from the Danish National Space Center.
A drop of approximately 100,000 square kilometers per year has been the average over the past ten years therefore, a drop of one million square kilometers in just one year is extreme," said Toudal.
The Passage has been considered impassable but some explorers have made the journey. The first passage was in 1903 and this phenomenal trip was made by Roald Amundsen.
An RCMP schooner, the ST ROCH, made the back and forth voyage between the years 1940 and 1942 in order to demonstrate Canada’s sovereignty over the North.
The route through the Passage is 5,000 kilometers shorter than the Panama Canal.
More about Northwest passage, Record ice loss, Canada