Seasonal Climate Associated with Major Shipping Routes in the North Pacific and North Atlantic

Abstract

The major shipping routes in the North Pacific (NP) and North Atlantic (NA) are analyzed via ship-reported records compiled by the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (ICOADS). The shipping route seasonal characteristics and associated climatic features are also examined. In the NP, the dominant cross-basin route takes a great-circle path between East Asia and North America along 54°N north of the Aleutian Islands throughout the year. This route penetrates the Aleutian low center where ocean waves and winds are relatively weaker than those in the low's southern section south of 50°N. Moreover, the Earth's spherical shape makes a higher-latitude route shorter in navigational distance across the NP than a lower-latitude route. Two additional mid-latitude routes through the 40° - 50°N region appear in summer when the Aleutian low vanishes. In the NA, the major shipping routes form an X-shaped pattern in the oceans south of 40°N to connect North America/the Panama Canal and the Mediterranean Sea/the British Isles and Europe. These major shipping routes are far from the influence of the Icelandic low and thus are used throughout the year due to the stability in marine conditions and their general efficiency. A third and more zonal route appears to the north of the X-shaped routes in the 40° - 50°N region. Weak influence from the Icelandic low on marine conditions during summer and spring means that more ships take this route in summer and spring than in winter and fall.

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