Talk:Northern Sea Route

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I commented out the bit about melting the ice: has anyone seriously proposed this? Can someone provide a source? Gerrit CUTEDH 16:35, 1 September 2005 (UTC)


What's the deal with volcanism? I can't imagine that underwater volcanoes could be serious factor in melting of the sea ice, except perhaps extremely locally. I see that originally that chapter was named "Climate Change". What gives? --Mikoyan21 (talk) 09:58, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

the claim of the first opening of the both passages in 125000 years is a wild guess. the source given, is just the independance newspaper. if you look at videos of the arctic ice, you will see, that even in years with a lot of ice as during the 1980s, every summer the ice sheet breaks and those are moving extensively. this makes it extremely unlikely, that both passages were closed for so long. they may have been open in the 1930s or 1940s but without satellite evidence either claim is completely unscientific. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:15, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

125,000 years[edit]

I've tagged as dubious the claim that the two passages haven't been open simultaneously for 125,000 years. The claim does indeed appear to have originated in the Independent [1] and it has been repeated frequently elsewhere. The organisation mentioned in the Indy is the NSIDC. What their website actually claims is that: "The last time that scientists can say confidently that the Arctic was free of summertime ice was 125,000 years ago, during the height of the last major interglacial period, known as the Eemian."[2] Clearly there's a huge difference between the Northeast Passage being merely open and the Arctic circle being free of (presumably free-floating) ice. The Independent seems to have assumed that the possibility of circumnavigating the North Pole means that the sea is now ice free, which is wrong. In fact the NSIDC also says " A recent study suggests that 5,500 years ago, the Arctic had substantially less summertime sea ice than today. However, it is not clear that the Arctic was completely free of summertime sea ice during this time." I think it's reasonable to conclude from that that it would in all likelihood have been possible to sail through both passages 5,500 years ago, had the technology existed. Does anybody have a genuine scientific source for this claim? --Lo2u (TC) 03:58, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

I responded to your {{dubious}} tag without realizing that "125,000 years" was the explanation for your tag.
If you have good sources among your choices are to add them to the article.
So long as the article is only citing The Independent I think it should fairly quote, summarize or paraphrase what The Independent says -- even if you or I are, personally, sure it is incorrect. Geo Swan (talk) 14:09, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Is this really how the {{dubious}} tag should be used?[edit]

Another contributor added a {{dubious}} tag following the statement: "Images from the NASA Aqua satellite revealed that the last ice blockage of the Northern Sea Route in the Laptev Sea had melted by late August 2008, the first time in 125,000 years that both the Northwest Passage and Northern Sea Route had been open simultaneously"

Their edit summary says: "Adding Dubious tag. See talk - source most likely misinterpreted by newspaper"

But the very first sentence of Wikipedia:Disputed statement says: "If a Wikipedia article links to this page, it is because someone is concerned that the article contains inaccurate statement(s)."

My reading of that first sentence of the guideline is that it is to be used when a wikipedia contributor is dubious about what a wikipedia article says. When the wikipedia article is paraphrasing what a WP:RS ssays I believe the use of the dubious tag is not only inappropriate, but could be seen as a form of editorializing, and a lapse from the trifecta WP:NPOV, WP:NOR and WP:VER. Geo Swan (talk) 12:29, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

I would question the strength of the Independent as a WP:RS. I think WP:REDFLAG applies here: "exceptional claims require high-quality sources". Although there are plenty of mass-circulation newspapers that would claim, for example, that global warming isn't happening, such a claim would never be allowed on the strength of a newspaper article. A newspaper might be considered a high-quality source for an article about politics or a biography but not on the question of global warming.
What we have here is a claim in a non-specialist, non-peer-reviewed publication that appears to be contradicted by the very source it cites. Mainstream science tells us that Arctic ice cover has been less in the past than today and that 125,000 years ago is the last time there was an ice-free Arctic, rather than the last time the Arctic was "an island". This doesn't constitute a WP:RS for a clearly controversial claim. I also think it would be rather tangential to write something like "according to the Independent... however NSIDC has said...". That would also be a synthesis of published material and would imply the existence of a conflict for which there is no evidence. I don't see the problem with tagging dubious claims in the hope that somebody will provide a more thorough citation. Also, POV and OR don't apply to template messages. If they did, it would be impossible to use some templates: Template:COI could only be added on the basis of original research, for example.
One last point: "Wikipedians are not mere copyists, bound to repeat simple statements absent context or without thought. The intent of the NPOV is presenting the dialogue that is apparent in the body of reliable references, not to mechanically include every possible opinion about the subject. We have a responsibility to present an accurate and factual overview of the topic addressed in the article. This may include indicating when a given authority may be wrong" (WP:NOTOR) - in other words, if we think the Indy is wrong, we can remove the sentence, unless you think that would harm the neutrality of the article? --Lo2u (TC) 02:05, 19 September 2009 (UTC)
After a several hours this evening searching unsuccessfully for a scholarly source, I've decided to remove this claim, at least for the time being. A clarification, along the lines of "according to the Independent" would be inappropriate because the Indy carries no authority on its own except as a source of second hand info. I don't think it's intrinsic to the article either. Newspapers don't have a particularly good reputation for fact-checking when it comes to science stories and this looks like another of those fake hyped cure-for-cancer-type stories. Notice also how the NSIDC's "at least 5,500 years" became "at least 125,000" years when in fact "at most 125,000 years" would have been the accurate way to summarise this. The author has certainly confused two concepts: ice free navigation and an ice free Arctic. The first means it is possible to circumnavigate the North Pole without ice breakers. The second means the ice sheet has retreated so that there is no longer any sea ice. There's no need to keep a suspicious claim simply because it would be original reasearch to say it's suspicious in the text of the article. --Lo2u (TC) 23:58, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

The amended version referring to "the first time in recorded history that both the Northwest Passage and Northern Sea Route had been open simultaneously" is certainly better than before. However, even that is untrue. The Northwest[3] and Northeast[4] Passages were both navigated without assistance from icebreakers in the summer of 2002. Audacious claims like this need the backing of a scholarly source. Personally I don't know when the two passages were open simultaneously and I haven't found much evidence that it is unusual, in geological terms, except in demonstrably inaccurate newspaper articles. Am I missing something? --Lo2u (TC) 11:59, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

Are you missing something? Yes, I think so. WP:VER. The sources say it is the first time in recorded history. Do you have sources that say that both passages were free of ice in 2002?
If so, why didn't you add them?
I continue to believe our policies require us to stick strictly to what our sources state.
Further, I suggest that "navigated without assistance" is not necessarily the same as "free of ice". Geo Swan (talk) 02:39, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
1. I'm not trying to add an unverified sentence claiming that both passages became navigable in 2002. I'm suggesting we remove information that is clearly incorrect from a less reliable source. VER says that all information in the article should be verifiable, not that the only way to deal with an unreliable piece of information is to find a different source that contradicts it and balance it out with the counter-claim. We need to make a decision on this talk page about how reliable the source is. That doesn't mean I have to prove a negative. If a ship was able to sail through the Northeast Passage in 2002 without an icebreaker, it's quite certain the passage wasn't blocked.
2. No, I don't have any sources that say explicitly when both passages first became navigable. None are required because I am not trying to add such information. I am suggesting we remove an assertion that may not be reliable. I have no intention of replacing it with my own speculative piece of original research and I don't really understand why you think I should want to. I just think we need to get rid of something that lowers the quality of the article.
3. Of course the rules require us to stick to what the sources say but, forgive me, your argument seems to be: "Even if it's incorrect, even if it's not well-sourced, even if it defies common sense we still absolutely must include it because WP:VER says we have to include everything unless it has an unreliable source". VER says nothing of the sort (it is about what can be included in an article) but even if it did that would be an absurdly rigid position to take.
4. I don't follow your last point. Are you trying to say that the Northern Sea Route could have been navigated without the assistance of an icebreaker if it had not been open? --Lo2u (TC) 03:40, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
Just to make clear the problem with your interpretation of Wikipedia policy:

--Lo2u (TC) 04:05, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

  • Your suggestion that we "remove information that is clearly incorrect" sounds like a lapse from the trifecta, WP:NPOV, WP:NOR and WP:VER. It is not clear to me that it is "clearly incorrect". I visited the Vancouver Maritime Museum, home to the St Roch, the second vessel to transit the Northwest Passage. I bought a book about the St Roch's voyage. That voyage took 28 months. The ship had several close calls, when it was almost crushed by ice -- generally due to sudden changes in wind and current brought some sudden waves of bus-sized and house-sized "bergy-bits". Amundsen's first voyage took over three years. If you base your assertion that the Independent is "clearly incorrect" on the relative lack of ice of recent years you are very deeply mistaken. The relative lack of ice is a very recent phenomenon. This is one of the reason why we disallow editorializing -- good faith contributors who are convinced our sources are incorrect correcting articles based on their own personal notions. You and I shouldn't be arguing about whether the Arctic is "free of ice". Rather we should be discussing how to fairly and neutrally cover what our sources say.
  • WRT my 4th point. I was simply pointing out that you seemed to be changing the goal posts. The Independent claimed 2009 was the first year both passages were "free of ice". You said the passages were both navigated unassisted in 2002, as if that is the same as being "free of ice". It is not. The St Roch was a relatively small vessel. About 150 tons IIRC. Bus-sized and house-sized chunks of ice represented a huge danger to it -- if they were powered by powerful changes in current or wind. Larsen, the ship's Captain, described starting through some passages, during the Arctic summer, where the central channel was clear of ice, but the bays off the channel were full of ice -- blown there by a change of wind. It had seemed safe to proceed, until a change in wind brought those dangerous chunks of icebergs barreling down on them. Relatively safe transits have been possible in recent years, at the height of the brief Arctic summer. But you are simply wrong to conflate unassisted passages with being "ice free".
  • WRT to your Steiner example -- User B can make the article say, "according to Steiner the first word written was...". Feel free to amend the article to clarify that this is The Indepent's assertion. Feel free to find more authoritative sources that contradict the claim. But removing material because you, personally, consider it "clearly incorrect" is counter policy. Geo Swan (talk) 19:03, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
Please don't accuse me of editorialising. As you are aware, I am not attempting to add any editorial to the article. I have made many thousands of Wikipedia edits over several years and have never done anything but apply the sources. Look at the article. The Indy isn't claiming that the route became viable for commerical shipping for the first time. It is claiming that for the first time in at least 125,000 years the Arctic is no longer joined to a continent. This has nothing to do with icebergs. As I have made clear already, I am well aware of POV, VER and NOR but as I am not trying to add material that is original research, unverifiable or my own point of view these are basically irrelevant. An article without this claim would still fulfill all those guidelines. You still haven't answered my concerns about the reliability of the source: this is repeated in no respectable scientific publication, we know nothing of where specifically the information comes from. The Independent is not a scientific authority.
With respect, the information is "clearly incorrect". If the Arctic may have been ice free 5,500 years ago, it is not correct to claim the passages have been blocked by ice for "at least 125,000 years". Do you not see that this is a newspaper article that exaggerates and, in the strict sense, contradicts the established science? Does is not worry you that we are using this as a source for anything? These aren't merely my concerns by the way. Andrew Revkin is an environmentalist whose articles about climate change are nearly always on the gloomy side but look at what he has to say:
that’s quite a statement considering two things: first, no one has been routinely monitoring sea ice along both coastlines between then and now, and second, the region was clearly warmer than it is today (in summers) around 8,000 to 10,000 years ago — on both the Siberian and North American sides.And one of the groups focusing most closely on possible Arctic shipping lanes, the National Ice Center operated by the Navy and Commerce Department, says flatly that the satellites are misreading conditions in many spots and that there is too much ice in a critical spot along the Russian coast (highlighted in the smaller image above) to allow anything but ice-hardened ships to get through. In an e-mail message Wednesday, Sean R. Helfrich, a scientist at the ice center, said that ponds of meltwater pooling on sea ice could fool certain satellite-borne instruments into interpreting ice as open water, “suggesting areas that have substantial ice cover as being sea-ice free.” The highlighted area is probably still impassible ice, including large amounts of thick old floes, he said. I sent the note to an array of sea-ice experts, and many, including Mark Serreze at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, concurred.[5]
For what it's worth, I accept that in all likelihood the two passages became open (if they did at all) for the first time since records began at some point at the beginning of the 21st century. What I don't accept is that you have provided anything like a reliable source. Where are the scientists who are making this claim? You rewrote the source with your own unverified "since records began" claim but still believe I am the one not paying attention to verifiability. --Lo2u (TC) 21:34, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

German raider Comet in ww2[edit]

This recent addition says that the Soviets gave the Germans permission to use the Northern Sea Route to transit to the Pacific Ocean. I had a book on the German commerce raiders. It said that Germans paid the Soviets a handsome fee for the charter of Soviet icebreakers to escort the one that made the passage. IIRC the fee was several million dollars -- a much larger sum in 1940. Geo Swan (talk) 05:27, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

I removed the phrase "without icebreakers"[edit]

I removed the phrase "without icebreakers", because, although the Reuters reference asserts that, other references contradict it, and some of them contain pictures showing the icebreaker escorting the Beluga vessels. Geo Swan (talk) 13:58, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

New wording[edit]

I've left this for a while now, in the hope that the discussion would develop a little. As I've said before, the Independent article contradicts the scientific consensus that the the Arctic may have been ice free as little as 5,000 years ago. It can't therefore be considered a reliable source. For reasons of space I've decided against listing sources on ice coverage in the Holocene, though I'm happy to do so. There's nothing controversial about that view. If the Daily Telegraph or the Wall Street Journal produced new information that appeared to diminish the effects of global warming, if it were not repeated in a scientific publication, it would certainly be disallowed for reasons of weight or RS. Quite right too. The current wording that takes account of objections while repeating the claim constitutes a synthesis of published material and therefore a form of original research.

I have found the same story repeated in National Geographic. They quote a spokesman from ESA making a far more modest claim: "Data gathered this year revealed that the Northern Sea Route, also known as the Northeast Passage, and the Northwest Passage were both open simultaneously for the first time since satellite measurements began"[6] and I would suggest that as a basis for a new wording. I also think we should mention doubts attributed to a number of bodies including NASA. --Lo2u (TC) 13:43, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

News from September 2nd, 2010[edit]

I'm not sure how to edit this into the article but I think this is another good addition for the history section: —Preceding unsigned comment added by Amosshapira (talkcontribs) 11:30, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

Differences between the Northern Sea Route and the Northeast Passage[edit]

This article is combining the Northern Sea Route and the Northeast Passage as if they were the same thing. The NSR is a route defined in Russian legislation and it does not connect to the Atlantic Ocean. It goes from the Kara Sea to the Bering strait by the Pacific Ocean. The NEP and NSR have many characteristics and history in common, but we should be careful to not equate one to the other, as if they were the same exact thing. I think some cleanup and/or corrections are necessary to make the article more clear. (talk) user:Al83tito 01:32, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

Assuming that's true, then I would agree. The source information doesn't seem to reflect that differentiation so you'd need to explicate that. Chris Troutman (talk) 04:26, 19 October 2014 (UTC)
Here is a good source, with detailed explanations on how the NEP and NSR are different yet similar: Østreng, Willy; Eger, Karl Magnus; Fløistad, Brit; Jørgensen-Dahl, Arnfinn; Lothe, Lars; Mejlænder-Larsen, Morten; Wergeland, Tor (2013). Shipping in Arctic Waters: A Comparison of the Northeast, Northwest and Trans Polar Passages. Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16790-4. ISBN 978-3642167898. 
There are significant portions of this article, like the history section, that refer to the NEP as a whole, and they would be better placed in the Northeast Passage article.(talk) user:Al83tito 06:15, 19 October 2014 (UTC)
Another authoritative source that makes a clear disctinction between the NSR and the NEP is the following one, which was sponsored by the Arctic Council, the main intergovernmental organization on Arctic issues: Brigham, L.; McCalla, R.; Cunningham, E.; Barr, W.; VanderZwaag, D.; Chircop, A.; Santos-Pedro, V.M.; MacDonald, R.; Harder, S.; Ellis, B.; Snyder, J.; Huntington, H.; Skjoldal, H.; Gold, M.; Williams, M.; Wojhan, T.; Williams, M.; Falkingham, J. (2009). Brigham, Lawson; Santos-Pedro, V.M.; Juurmaa, K., eds. Arctic marine shipping assessment (AMSA) (PDF). Norway: Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME), Arctic Council.  This report is freely available on-line.
I am going to start moving some content from this NSR article to the NEP one, when the content is about the NEP, like the first part of the history section. More work should be done to clearly distinguish between the two.(talk) user:Al83tito 16:30, 01 November 2014 (UTC)

Proposal to merge the Northern Sea Route Article into the Northeast Passage article[edit]

The history, climatology and economics of the Northern Sea Route and Northeast Passage are greatly interconnected, with a large partial overlap. It is difficult to talk about one without talking about the other. It therefore may be more appropriate to merge the two articles. Note that I first tried to to move some content from the NSR article that was only about the NEP (per talk item just above), but most of the content in the NSR article is too tightly mixed with the NEP, and it is therefore that I am proposing a merger of the two articles. Since the Northern Sea Route is a domestic Russian route, which is subset of the larger and transoceanic Northeast Passage, I propose that the merger be done by moving all contents from the NSR article into the NEP article. (talk) user:Al83tito 17:15, 01 November 2014 (UTC)

It is a mistake to combine the two sections. Instead, they should e clarified. The correct designation for the passage is the Northeast Passage, which is an international passage that begins properly at North Cape Norway and exits at the Bering Straits. The use of the term "Northern Sea Route" has Soviet and Russian baggage. Msloescher (talk) 15:58, 10 January 2015 (UTC) msloescher

There is no "baggage". The Northern Sea Route is a maritime transit route that passes through Russian territorial waters and the Russian Exclusive Economic Zone starting at the eastern side of Novaya Zemlya (whether through the Kara Gates or across the top of Novaya Zemlya) and ending at the Bering Strait. It is true that the "Northeast Passage" is a term that can include both the Northern Sea Route and any other maritime transit route that would pass in totally unrestricted international waters beyond the Russian EEZ.Moryak (talk) 03:22, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Another approach would be to move into the NEP article those section of the NSR article that talk about the NEP (like most of the history section). At the same time, rather than completely eliminating the NSR article, it could be kept with its current lead section, and some of the subsections that exclusively talk about some aspects of the NSR (maybe like "Ice-free ports") (talk) user:Al83tito 16:12, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

Following what I had commented just above, I have moved over most of the content of the NSR article (virtually of all of it was deeply intertwined with the NEP topic), but without deleting the NSR article, and leaving the lead section there. I have added a "see also template" to better connect to the NEP article, and I have removed the merger template tag. (talk) user:Al83tito 23:10, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

Edit by Moryak regarding map illustration (NEP vs NSR)[edit]

I undid an edit bu Moryak, who had added the following wording to the map description: "I should be noted that the Northern Sea Route is incorrectly depicted as beginning along the Norwegian coast and extending below the Bering Strait.". The quoted claim is erroneous. The Russian legislation does not include the Barents Sea as part of the NSR: It is formally defined in Russian law as extending from the Novaya Zhelaniya straits (at the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, connecting the Barents Sea to the West and the Kara Sea to the East), to Cape Dezhnev by the Bering Strait. A scholarly source for this is the following paper: SOLSKI, J., 2013, New developments in Russian regulation of navigation on the Northern sea route. Arctic Review on Law and Politics, 2013(1), pp. 90–120. Furthermore, the map shown is part of AMSA, a publication by the Arctic Council, so by itself it is an authoritative source. The AMSA reference is also included in the list of references of the article. Finally, this text addition by Moryak was made followed by a citation to a source that does not support his claim, but rather the opposite. (talk) user:Al83tito 20:01, 7 June 2015 (UTC)