Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Arctic Map plots new ‘gold rush’

06.08.2008
Researchers at Durham University have drawn up the first ever ‘Arctic Map’ to show the disputed territories that states might lay claim to in the future.

The new map design follows a series of historical and ongoing arguments about ownership, and the race for resources, in the frozen lands and seas of the Arctic.

The potential for conflicts is increasing as the search for new oil, gas and minerals intensifies.

The move to comprehensively map the region illustrates the urgent need for clear policy-making on Arctic issues – an area rich in natural resources. The Durham map shows:

1/ where boundaries have been agreed
2/ where known claims are
3/ the potential areas that states might claim
Director of Research at the International Boundaries Research Unit (IBRU), Martin Pratt says: “The map is the most precise depiction yet of the limits and the future dividing lines that could be drawn across the Arctic region.

“The results have huge implications for policy-making as the rush to carve up the polar region continues.

“It’s a cartographic means of showing, and an attempt to collate information and predict the way in which the Arctic region may eventually be divided up. The freezing land and seas of the Arctic are likely to be getting hotter in terms of geopolitics; the Durham map aims to assist national and international policy-makers across the world.”

It’s a year since Russia planted a flag on the seabed, underneath the North Pole, highlighting its claim to a huge chunk of the Arctic.

The Russian demands relate to a complex area of law covered by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS). Under that law, any coastal state can claim territory 200 nautical miles (nm) from their shoreline (Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ) and exploit the natural resources within that zone. Some coastal states have rights that extend beyond EEZ due to their continental shelf. Areas of the seabed beyond the continental shelf are referred to as ‘The Area’ and any world state – landlocked or not – has equal rights in this area.

The continental shelf is the part of a country’s landmass that extends into the sea before dropping into the deep ocean. Under UNCLOS, if a state can prove its rights, it can exploit the resources of the sea and the seabed within its territory.

Russia claims that its continental shelf extends along a mountain chain running underneath the Arctic, known as the Lomonosov Ridge. Theoretically, if this was the case, Russia might be able to claim a vast area of territory.

The IBRU map shows what is currently possible and what might be permissible in terms of territorial claims under international law. It also highlights the areas of land and sea where clashes of interest are likely.

A new survey by the US Geological Survey estimates that a fifth of the world’s undiscovered, technically-recoverable resources lie within the Arctic Circle. The Lomonosov Ridge is just one area of contention between countries. Other disputes involve Canada, USA, (Greenland) Denmark, Iceland and Norway.

The problem with claims is that they must be verified by geological, geomorphological and bathymetric analysis (sub-sea surveys), and it’s not an easy or quick process to verify claims.

The new map will help politicians to understand areas of maritime jurisdiction and the methodology employed could be vital in helping to settle future sea territorial disputes.

Conservationists want laws to protect the North Pole region and climate change is likely to bring further pressure as ice melts and the seas open up to exploration.

NOTES ON THE PREPARATION OF THE MAP

The Arctic map is believed to be the first published map that depicts maritime jurisdictional issues in the Arctic with geographic precision.

The Arctic map was generated using a specialist GIS (geographic information system) software tool, CARIS LOTS (from the Canadian geomatics company CARIS) which facilitates the identification of maritime jurisdictional limits and potential boundaries. The coordinates of agreed boundaries, published baselines and claimed limits were imported from databases compiled by IBRU; coastline and bathymetric data were derived from public-domain datasets published by the US government; and median lines, EEZ and potential continental shelf limits were constructed using CARIS LOTS.

Once the relevant data were assembled, a base map was prepared using the Polar Stereographic projection, which is centred on the North Pole. The final map was prepared with cartographic support from Chris Orton of the Geography Department's Design and Imaging Unit.

The map is available for download from the IBRU website http://www.dur.ac.uk/ibru/resources/arctic/. The map is accompanied by a set of briefing notes providing additional information on these issues.

THE INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARIES RESEARCH UNIT

The IBRU works to enhance the resources available for the peaceful resolution of problems associated with international boundaries on land and at sea, including their delimitation, demarcation and management. Since its foundation in 1989 IBRU has built up an international reputation as a leading source of information and expertise on boundary and territorial issues around the world.

IBRU provides research and consultancy services, training workshops, conferences and publications. The IBRU website also includes a searchable boundary news archive, a publications 'purchase and download' service, and links to other boundary-related websites and online resources. IBRU is part of the Politics-State-Space research cluster in the Geography Department at Durham University.

IBRU’s 20th anniversary conference the State of Sovereignty and will be held in Durham University 1-3 April 2009.

THE ARCTIC CIRCLE
The Arctic Circle (66° 33' 39? north) marks the southern extremity of the polar day (24 hour sunlit day, often referred to as the "midnight sun") and polar night (24 hour sunless night).

Claire Whitelaw | alfa
Further information:
http://www.durham.ac.uk
http://www.durham.ac.uk/news

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht In times of climate change: What a lake’s colour can tell about its condition
21.09.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht Did marine sponges trigger the ‘Cambrian explosion’ through ‘ecosystem engineering’?
21.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>