Climate

Fuel Tanker Plunges Through Ice Road On Arctic Circle After Weight Limit Quadrupled

CREDIT: Government of the Northwest Territories

After the hottest winter on record, one Canadian territory raised the weight limit on an ice road crossing at the Arctic Circle from 10 metric tons to 40 metric tons. What could possibly go wrong?

Last Saturday, a fuel tanker broke through an ice road in northern Canada. Fortunately, no one was injured. Just four days prior to this accident, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) provided this helpful tweet:

Now you may ask why the GNWT would quadruple the allowable weight limit on an ice crossing for Great Bear Lake at 66° North latitude (aka the Arctic Circle) following the hottest February on record — which followed the hottest January on record.

After all, it’s been so warm up north that the last two months both set records for low sea ice in the Arctic. Indeed, the Arctic was so warm in January that National Snow and Ice Data Center chief Mark Serreze said it was “absurdly warm across the entire Arctic Ocean.” And in February, parts of the Arctic were 18°F warmer than normal — and central northern Canada was as much as 10°F warmer than normal.

The fact it was a fuel tanker that crashed through the ice during record heat driven in part by fuel combustion just compounds the irony. As Cantech Letter, “one of Canada’s premier technology newsletters,” put it, “Giant metaphor crashes through the ice in Canada’s North.”

To put it another way, it looks like Canada picked the wrong week to ignore global warming.

The photo above was posted to Facebook by the GNWT’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources.