Monday, August 13, 2007

Denmark Follows Russia to North Pole.

Following Russia's claim to the Lomonosov ridge as a part of it's Siberian territory, Denmark has launched its own similar geological mission to investigate whether the feature actually belongs to Greenland and hence to its own country. The Danes are the latest to seek provenance of the ridge among the US, Canada and Norway, which is thought to be well endowed in gas and oil. There is a positive side to global warming in that it should be easier to harvest both resources as the Arctic ice melts. The Danish mission is supported by a Swedish icebreaker called Oden and a Russian nuclear icebraker known as 50 let podedy - the latter meaning 50 years of victory.

It is the intention of the project to gather seismic, bathymetric and gravity data to map-out the seabed underneath the ice, and will sail from Tromsoe in the north of Norway, returning to the Svalbard islands on September the 17th. While the North Pole seabed is not presently apportioned to any particular country it is under the governance of certain complex international treaties, and just last week a Russian geological team planted a titanium flag on the seabed some 4,200 metres below the pole. The latter action attracted some hostile response from Canada, who's foreign minister, Peter MacKay, compared it to tactics used in 15th century colonialism.

Interestingly, Canada and the US are embroiled in a dispute over the North-west passage, which is a seaway that links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, normally partially frozen but which may be rendered open for more of the year at the behest of global warming.

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