icebreaker image: Dr. Joo-Hong Kim, Korea Polar Research Institute. Cover photo for

The research focus is on how environmental and economic drivers will alter the flow of goods and connectivity of human populations in response to a changing Arctic and globe. A key focus of research is quantifying how changes in sea ice distributions and properties and regional and global economic drivers will influence shipping in the Arctic. InteRFACE is also quantifying how connectivity and trafficability of Arctic communities may influence responses to climate change.

Multi-sector dynamics teams are modeling how combined economic drivers and sea ice may alter shipping through the Arctic, with an initial focus on shipping of fossil resources. These studies include both the physical and economic drivers of Arctic shipping. Decisions about shipping through alternative Arctic transit paths will be driven both by ice conditions through Northwest Passage, Northern Sea, and Arctic Ocean routes, but also the relative costs compared to other, non-Arctic routes, such as the Suez Canal. A full cost analysis takes into account the speed of transit, fuel costs, the need for support, such as ice breakers, and transit fees or seasonal restrictions on transit to protect whaling grounds.

Shipping and ice. Photo credit Andrew Roberts.
Arctic transit paths. The great circle path minimizes the distance traveled. Varying ice conditions through Northwest Passage, Northern Sea, and Arctic Ocean routes. LA-UR-20-26629


Siwa Msangi – PNNL

Research Team

James Edmonds – PNNL
Ying Zhang – PNNL
Stephanie Waldhoff – PNNL
Andrew Roberts – LANL
Erin Thomas – LANL
Gennaro D’Angelo – LANL 

US Department of Energy

InteRFACE is a multi-institution project funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science.