Arctic Ocean Transportation

In 2007, the Northwest Passage experienced its first ice-free summer. By the summer of 2011, 33 cargo ships had navigated the Northern Sea Route carrying about 850,000 tons of cargo. Each summer, ice-free periods are increasing in the Northern Sea Route, leading to experts predicting a major increase in shipping within the next several years.
Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, Arctic Council - http://arcticlcc.org/assets/resources/ABA2013Science.pdf

transits of northwest passage by year

Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, Arctic Council - http://arcticlcc.org/assets/resources/ABA2013Science.pdf

Sea ice melt and Arctic transportation are directly correlated. As more ice melts in the summer months, more shipping routes will be available in the Arctic, causing an overall increase in Arctic transportation. It is estimated that the Northern Sea Route and Northwest Passage have much shorter sailing distances, trips on average take 10-13 fewer days and can be between 30-40% shorter than the current route through the Suez canal. This could potentially mean that ships sailing through this passage would save on time and fuel costs.

However, there are also many downsides to using Arctic for transportation. Many obstacles still remain- including danger, remoteness, inadequate search and rescue, the need for icebreaker ships, difficulties in navigation, and access being limited to the summer months.