How the Northern Sea Routes will change the world’s major traffic flows?

Country/area: Japan

Organisation: Nikkei, Nikkei Asia

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 5/8/2021

Credit: Yuji Nitta, Tomoyo Ogawa, Kazuhiro Kida

Biography: Yuji Nitta is a business news reporter and participated in many visual storytelling projects. Tomoyo Ogawa is an international news reporter and former Moscow correspondent. Kazuhiro Kida is a data editor and led visual and data journalism projects.

Project description:

Since the Age of Discovery, humans have explored the world’s sea routes, but there is still one of the “Seven Seas” that has yet to be conquered: The Arctic Ocean. The Northern Sea Route is gaining prominence because of global warming, and it is the shortest route between East Asia and Europe. It has the potential to rewrite the world’s logistics networks. The Arctic is also rich in natural resources, and the U.S., China and Russia have begun to compete for control of the region. It is also becoming important for Japan’s energy policy.

Impact reached:

We published this project both in Japanese and English. Both received high engagement from our readers, especially from geospatial experts.

Techniques/technologies used:

We used Google Earth and Mapbox for visualization.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part was visualization of northern sea route virtual trip. We used actual position data of LNG tanker and followed the route from Yokohama to the Yamal Peninsula. By scrolling, readers can trace the route of 13-day trip. Our engineers made hard work to adjust basemap according to the ship’s direction.

What can others learn from this project?

When analyzing the geographical issues, it is important to use the best mapping method. We learned that Arctic-centric map projection is very informative.

Project links: