Ship Traffic in the Asian Arctic Seas

  • T. Eriksen
  • H. GreidanusEmail author
  • M. Vespe
  • C. Santamaria


This chapter quantifies shipping intensities, and maps out shipping patterns and their changes over seasons and over years, in the Kara, Laptev and East Siberian Seas. Use is made of two main data sources: first, position reports from the AIS automatic ship reporting system, in particular using the Norwegian AIS satellites; and second, ship detections derived from satellite radar images, in particular from the EU’s Sentinel-1. It is seen that the ship traffic in the three seas is seasonally dominated by the winter ice cover, which practically halts all shipping in the Laptev and East Siberian Seas for a large part of the year; in the Kara Sea, the busiest of the three, some routes remain used also in winter. Over the last years, the number of ships observed by satellite AIS has grown, especially in the Kara Sea. Concerning shipping type, practically no fishing activity is seen (in contrast to the Barents Sea); most traffic seems to be transport and exploration.


Maritime surveillance Ship traffic AIS Synthetic aperture radar Arctic shipping 



Sentinel-1 images are © Copernicus 2014–2015. Satellite AIS data from AISSat-1 and AISSat-2 were obtained courtesy of the Norwegian Coastal Administration. A coastline of OpenStreetMap, © OpenStreetMap contributors, was used.


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Copyright information

© European Union 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Eriksen
    • 1
  • H. Greidanus
    • 2
    Email author
  • M. Vespe
    • 2
  • C. Santamaria
    • 2
  1. 1.Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI)KjellerNorway
  2. 2.European Commission—Joint Research Centre (JRC)IspraItaly

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