As per the polar ice caps are melting, the Northwest Passage is turning more navigable – its economic use is within the boundary. Even the federal government from Germany has the topic on the core.“For a country relying on experts,like Germany, shorter sea distances are of great significance,” says Dr. Wolfgang Koch,lead of Sensor Data and Information Fusion at the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Ergonomics and Information Processing FKIE.
“In comparison to the route between Europe and East Asia through the Suez Canal, the path through the Northwest Passage is approximately 5,000 nautical miles smaller that implies vast savings for ship owners,” says Koch. The path has been too tricky.
It is what Koch and a Canadian – German research group intend to change. In this project, they are conducting the preparatory act for secure navigation through the cold waters. It is not a simple task, as the route is challenging not just because of presence of a range of bay islands, uncharted narrows and shoals, but also due to drift of ice and harsh weather conditions. In addition to other groups, sometimes they do not enter their positions. The system has to offer adequate data about all that.
But the problem is that there is limited information available, as there is no set infrastructure in communication and sensor technology. The entire path is bigger than the Western Europe and is densely populated. Even if there was sufficient information available, these would have to be processed into data that could be useful for stakeholders.
On the basis of novel gained insights and ideas for such a system, Koch would prefer to establish suitable information and monitoring system. “We expect that our research project will be based by a development project.” The project is backed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as well as the project associates Airbus and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.
An operational unit would be an excellent asset for shipping entities, the Coast Guard and the maritime authorities. Even the insurance entities prefer the data. “On the basis they could estimate premiums for the ships that need to be insured,” explains Koch. After the complex route is made adaptablethrough secure navigation, ship owners would not have to spend too much on insurance coverage.
It will need at least a decade till the navigation system is prepared to be launched. Over such years, the path will become progressively cold – free and economically navigable for the shipping traffic. This will reveal that the scientific groundwork of present scenario will have been worthwhile. According to Koch, “As dramatic as global warming is, we will attempt to obtain at least something positive out of it.”
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