The Northwest Passage, the previously impassable shortcut between Europe and Asia in the Canadian Arctic, has now opened due to the shrinking of Arctic sea ice.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has said that sea ice has shrunk in the Arctic to its lowest level since satellite measurements began 30 years ago.
Leif Toudal Pedersen of the Danish National Space Centre said: "We have seen the ice-covered area drop to just around three million square kilometres, which is about one million square kilometres less than the previous minima of 2005 and 2006."
"There has been a reduction of the ice cover over the last 10 years of about 100,000 square km per year on average, so a drop of one million square km in just one year is extreme."
A shipping route through the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic is viewed as a cheaper option to the Panama Canal for many shippers.
The most direct route of the Northwest Passage across northern Canada is now "fully navigable", while the so-called Northeast Passage along the Siberian coast "remains only partially blocked," ESA said.
From Al Jazeera
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