routes through the Arctic is also likely to
damage fragile ecosystems and potentially
exacerbate global climate change.
Aided by unparalleled ice retreat (1),
Russia, the United States, Germany, and
Scandinavian countries have accelerated
navigation and exploration of the Arctic (2).
In the summer of 2017, China completed its
first navigation of the Northwest Passage (3).
Through its New Silk Road Initiatives, which
include cooperation with Russia for the “Silk
Road on ice” (4), the country has seized the
opportunity to increase its involvement in
Arctic affairs. Nearly half of China’s gross
domestic product is shipping dependent,
and the lure of shorter routes has driven
growing interest in Arctic shipping.
Shipping can, however, exacerbate envi-
ronmental pollution. In Scandinavia, ship
emissions increase deposition of nitrate by
30 to 50% and sulphate by 10 to 25% (5),
endangering human health and increasing
ocean acidification. Deposition of black
carbon aerosols can reduce albedo, accelerating snowmelt and ice loss (6). With
limited infrastructure and poor weather,
accidental spills of oil and chemicals are
major concerns. For example, the 1989
Exxon Valdez oil spill has had lasting
impacts in the Arctic due to difficulties
of cleaning up in icy waters (7). Concerns
have increased after recent tragic spills
(8). Foreign species can also be introduced
through ballast or wastewater discharges
(9). Shipping through areas of critical
ecological concern such as whale foraging
zones or migration corridors may threaten
wildlife, for example, the North Atlantic
right whale (10).
With limited implementation of the
Paris Agreement, particularly from the
United States, Arctic shipping could be
easier in the future. Nevertheless, the
International Maritime Organization’s
Polar Code includes waste management,
improving infrastructure, and routing
agreements (11). Strict enforcement of such
international codes and national laws will
be necessary to minimize environmental
impacts on Arctic environments (12).
Hong Yang,1,2 Mingguo Ma,1 Julian R.
Thompson,3 Roger J. Flower3
1Chongqing Engineering Research Center for
Remote Sensing Big Data Application, Chongqing
Key Laboratory of Karst Environment, School of
Geographical Sciences, Southwest University,
Chongqing, 400715, China. 2Department of
Exploring the Intersections of Innovation
SEVENTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE
April 4-6, 2018 | Washington, D.C.
For more information about the Fellows Program or to Register for the Event, visit www.AcademyofInventors.org
The 2017 Fellows are named inventors on nearly 6,000 issued U.S. patents,
bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 32,000
The NAI has named
to Fellow status
Fellows will be
inducted April 5 at the
Geography and Environmental Science, University of
Reading, Reading, RG6 6AB, UK. 3UCL Department
of Geography, University College London, London,
WC1E 6BT, UK.
1. Y. Aksenov et al., Mar. Policy 75, 300 (2017).
2. Y. R. Zhang, Q. Meng, L. Y. Zhang, Mar. Pol. 73, 53 (2016).
3. Central Government of P. R. of China, “China successfully
finished the first navigation of the Northwest Passage in
Arctic” (2017); www.gov.cn/xinwen/2017-09/07/
content_5223349.htm [in Chinese].
4. Xinhua, “Interview: ‘Silk Road on Ice’ to enhance Russia-China cooperation in Arctic: Russian expert” (2017);
5. S. B. Dalsøren, Ø. Endresen, I. S. Isaksen, G. Gravir, E.
Sørgård, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 112, D02310(2007).
6. J. Bro wse et al., Geophys. Res. Lett. 40, 4459 (2013).
7. World Wildlife Fund, “20 years on, Arctic unprepared
for another Exxon Valdez” (2009); http://w wf.panda.
8. A. Jernelov, Nature 466, 182 (2010).
9. L. Jing, B. Chen, B. Zhang, H. Peng, Environ.Rev.20,
10. N.Hong, Res. Transport. Econ. 35,50(2012).
11. International Maritime Organization, “Guidelines for
ships operating in polar waters” (2010); www.imo.org/
12. H. Yang, X.Huang,J.R. Thompson,R.J.Flower, Science
347, 834 (2015).