Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nature, the ice-breaker

While human effort to create a shipping link between Palk Strait and Gulf of Mannar is mired in controversy, Nature ( with, perhaps, some help from the global warming caused by humans) seems to have quietly cleared the northwest passage in the Arctic, that would provide a second link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Brittanica Blog reports:

“According to photographs recently published by the European Space Agency, the fabled Northwest Passage joining the Atlantic and Pacific to the Arctic Ocean is now open for business; as the ESA notes, those satellite images document the lowest Arctic ice coverage in history. There was a time, in a pre-warmed era, when sea ice would have blocked the channel; as the Encyclopaedia Britannica article on the Northwest Passage remarks,

To reach the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic requires a hazardous voyage through a stream of about 50,000 giant icebergs, up to 300 feet (90 m) in height, constantly drifting south between Greenland and Baffin Island. The exit to the Pacific is equally formidable, because the polar ice cap presses down on Alaska’s shallow north coast much of the year and funnels masses of ice into the Bering Strait, between Alaska and Siberia.

But no more: whether through human agency or the vicissitudes of an obdurate nature, the
McClure Strait is now completely open, and the historically impassable Northwest Passage is now navigable from start to finish. Satellite images indicate a gaping hole in the sea ice that runs more or less directly along the North American coast, affording ocean going vessels making from, say, Liverpool to Osaka what will surely turn out to be a faster and less expensive route than the one that now passes by way of the Panama Canal. "

Ok, there aren’t huge icebergs here in the Gulf of Mannar, but can Nature intervene in some other ingenious manner and provide a deep-water link, keeping the Adam's Bridge unaffected?

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