Melting ice pulls Norway closer to Asia
KIRKENES (Norway) (AFP) - The town of Kirkenes in northernmost Norway used to be further away from Asia than virtually any other European port, but it suddenly seems a lot closer. The reason: Global warming.
Melting ice has opened up the Northern Sea Route along Russia's Arctic coastline, changing international trade patterns in profound ways - even if so far it looks more like a sleepy county road than a busy, four-lane highway.
In a change of potentially revolutionary significance, the travel time between the Japanese port of Yokohama and Hamburg in Germany has been cut by 40 percent, while fuel expenditure is down by 20 percent.
"For the first time in history we are witnessing a new ocean opening up in the high north which will have a major impact on both trade and provision of energy," said Sturla Henriksen, the president of the Norwegian Shipowners' Association.