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The city of Nadym, in the extreme north of Siberia, is one of the Earth’s least hospitable places, shrouded in darkness for half of the year, with temperatures plunging below minus 30 Celsius and the nearby Kara Sea semipermanently frozen.

But things are looking up for this Arctic conurbation halfway between Europe and China. Over the next 30 years climate change is likely to open up a major polar shipping route between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, cutting travel time to and from Asia by 40 percent and allowing Russia’s vast oil and gas resources to be exported to China, Japan and south Asia much faster.

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