Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2222
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2222
09 Nov 2023
 | 09 Nov 2023

The Risk of Synoptic-Scale Arctic Cyclones to Shipping

Alexander Frank Vessey, Kevin I. Hodges, Len C. Shaffrey, and Jonathan J. Day

Abstract. The risk posed by Arctic cyclones to ships has seldom been quantified due to the lack of publicly available historical Arctic ship track data. This study investigates Automated Identification System (AIS) transponder derived Arctic ship tracks from September 2009 to December 2016. These are analysed with historical synoptic-scale cyclone tracks derived from ERA-5 and reports of past Arctic shipping incidents, to determine the number of ships intersected by the passage of intense Arctic cyclones, and how many resulted in shipping incidents.

The number of ships operating in the Arctic has increased year-on-year from 2010 to 2016. The highest density of ships occurs year-round in the Barents Sea. Trans-Arctic shipping transits via the Northern Sea Route and the North-West Passage are limited to summer and autumn months, when sea ice extent has sufficiently retreated from the coastlines. But, ship traffic along these trans-Arctic routes is far less than the thousands of ships travelling in the Barents Sea year-round. Between 2010 and 2016, 248 Arctic shipping incidents were reported, but only 2 % of these occurred following the passage of an intense Arctic cyclone. So, shipping incidents do occur in the Arctic, but the vast majority appear unrelated to the passage of intense Arctic cyclones, despite ship tracks being frequently intersected by such hazards. Less than 0.0001 % of these intersections resulted in a reported shipping incident. This suggests that Arctic cyclones have not been hazardous to ships, and that ships are resilient to the rough sea conditions caused by intense Arctic cyclones.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Alexander Frank Vessey, Kevin I. Hodges, Len C. Shaffrey, and Jonathan J. Day

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2222', Paul Arthur Berkman, 29 Nov 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Alexander Vessey, 21 Feb 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2222', Anonymous Referee #2, 26 Dec 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Alexander Vessey, 21 Feb 2024

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2222', Paul Arthur Berkman, 29 Nov 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Alexander Vessey, 21 Feb 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2222', Anonymous Referee #2, 26 Dec 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Alexander Vessey, 21 Feb 2024
Alexander Frank Vessey, Kevin I. Hodges, Len C. Shaffrey, and Jonathan J. Day
Alexander Frank Vessey, Kevin I. Hodges, Len C. Shaffrey, and Jonathan J. Day

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This manuscript is very timely and addressing a significant aspect of polar meteorology, Arctic synoptic-scale cyclones. Given the current and future development of open passages due to sea-ice loss, this study may have significant influence on upcoming needs of shipping as well as the scientific analysis of underlying physical mechanisms for future arctic cyclone development.
Short summary
The risk posed by Arctic cyclones to ships has seldom been quantified due to the lack of publicly available historical Arctic ship track data. This study investigates historical Arctic ship tracks, cyclone tracks and shipping incident reports, to determine the number of shipping incidents caused by the passage of Arctic cyclones. Results suggests that Arctic cyclones have not been hazardous to ships, and that ships are resilient to the rough sea conditions caused by Arctic cyclones.