KIRKENES (TIP): The town of Kirkenes in northernmost Norway used to be further away from Asia than virtually any other European port, but it suddenly seems a lot closer. The reason: Global warming. Melting ice has opened up the Northern Sea Route along Russia’s Arctic coastline, changing international trade patterns in profound ways. The travel time between the Japanese port of Yokohama and Hamburg in Germany has been cut by 40%, while fuel expenditure is down by 20%. In 2012, when the ice reached its lowest extent on record, – 3.4 million square kilometers – 46 ships used the new route, compared to only four in 2010, according to Rosatomflot, a Russian operator of icebreakers.