Apparently Russia, Canada and Denmark are trying to see if they can lay claim to the North Pole – Denmark by virture of having Greenland is in the thick of things – seems kind of silly at first glance but with new technologies, hunger for resources and global warming opening up access in the area, it makes a lot of sense if you are greedy…
From News On Rednova
By JAN M. OLSEN
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark is joining Russia and Canada to see if it can lay a claim to the North Pole – and whatever natural riches may lie beneath it.
The key to Denmark’s claim is Greenland, the world’s largest island and a semi-independent Danish territory, just 500 miles south of the North Pole. Researchers hope to find evidence that Greenland may be connected to a huge ridge beneath the floating Arctic ice, the country’s science and technology minister said.
If high-tech measurements can prove that Greenland is attached to the 1,240 mile underwater Lomonosov Ridge, then “maybe there is a chance that the North Pole could become Danish,” Cabinet minister Helge Sander said Friday.
Since the spring, teams of experts have used sonar, seismological instruments and Global Positioning Satellite data to survey the ridge and have drilled into the sea bed in search of natural resources.
Last year, Denmark allocated $25 million for the project, which is also surveying four other areas around Greenland. The Canadian government allocated $55.4 million for similar sea bed mapping, said Allan Boldt of the science and technology ministry.
The question Danish scientists are trying resolve is where Greenland’s continental socket ends and the ocean sea floor begins.
“We must be able to argue that it is a natural extension” of Greenland, added Trine Dahl-Jensen of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.
Another key to claiming ownership of the territory lies in the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, a 1986 accord that allows coastal countries an economic zone extending 230 miles from their shores.
Only countries that have ratified the convention can claim the offshore economic zones, said Allan Boldt of the science and technology ministry.
Of the countries surrounding the North Pole, Norway, Russia and Canada have signed the document, while the United States has not. Denmark’s parliament is set to ratify it before the end of the year, though an exact date has not been set, Sander said.
The North Pole is an ocean covered by ice and therefore falls under the U.N. convention.
The mapping could be a bonanza.
“It could give us access to natural resources. There could be oil and gas,” Sander said.
Neighboring Norway’s offshore oil fields make it the world’s third-largest oil exporter.
Canada and Russia, which also is likely to claim ownership of the Lomonosov Ridge, are also making similar investigations around the North Pole.
Mapping the Arctic is difficult because of moving ice floes, freezing temperatures, fog and poor visibility, said Dahl-Jensen.
“We can only work there for about a month-and-half,” she said.
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Copyright © 2004 The Associated Press.