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Weatherwise -- May-June 2015

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Strait of Malacca – Nexus of Global Commerce

Seasonless except for the months of precipitation-delivering monsoons, the tropical skies above the low-latitude Strait of Malacca have unleashed deluges of rain, brought oppressive humidity, and provided refreshing cloud shadows to otherwise intense blasts of sunlight to sailors navigating the waterway for centuries. Also called the Malacca Strait or the Straits of Malacca, the narrow route is the primary shipping lane that connects the Pacific Ocean with the Indian Ocean. According to the United States Department of Energy, one-quarter of all oil produced worldwide transits through the Strait of Malacca, making it the most important oil route between the Middle East and East Asia, and along with the Strait of Hormuz, one of the two most important oil “strategic chokepoints” in the world. When oil trades at $115 per barrel, nearly $1 trillion worth of the commodity travels through the waterway each year. The Strait also sees massive volumes of non-oil shipping traffic, providing a surface transport link among such high-volume manufacturing countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and India.

ED DARACK is an independent author and photographer. Learn more at

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