Deshielo en la cima del mundo

POTSDAM – En el año 1845, Sir John Franklin, capitán de la Marina Real Británica condujo a 128 hombres en dos barcos blindados de vapor, el Erebus y el Terror, hacia el Ártico, lugar donde después de un algún tiempo de viaje desaparecieron. El viaje fue la culminación de cuatro siglos de intentos fallidos por navegar por el Paso del Noroeste – una ruta directa que va desde Europa hacia Asia atravesando el Océano Ártico – y permanece en la memoria como una de las mayores tragedias en la historia de la exploración polar.

Hoy en día, una tragedia ártica mucho mayor está en pleno desarrollo: el casquete polar del Ártico se derrite. El mes pasado, después de décadas de descenso, alcanzó su nuevo nivel más bajo. En efecto, la zona del casquete polar se ha reducido a la mitad desde la década de 1980, época en la que el hielo marino de verano aún se extendía sobre aproximadamente unos siete millones de kilómetros cuadrados, en contraposición a menos de cuatro millones en la actualidad. Es probable que hoy en día tenga un tamaño menor al que ha tenido durante al menos un milenio y medio (at least a millennium and a half).

En 2007, el Paso del Noroeste estuvo por primera vez libre de hielo desde que se puede recordad.  Desde entonces, embarcaciones de todos los tamaños – incluyendo barcos cruceros – navegan con facilidad a través de este paso durante los veranos.

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