Monday, November 30, 2009

US Navy issues "Arctic Road Map"

Announced earlier this year, the U.S. Navy has now published its "Arctic Road Map."  

The Oceanographer of the Navy, Rear Admiral David Titley, discussed plans for the Roadmap at the Naval Academy last June, as part of the 3rd Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations (his presentation is available at the symposium website).  The road map was produced by the Navy's "Task Force Climate Change," (highlighted on National Public Radio in July 2009) which collaborates with the US Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Icebreaking into the Arctic

The USCGC HEALY embarked Barrow, Alaska, in August 2008 to map the US extended continental shelf, or ECS, in the Arctic Ocean (HLY 0805). Healy sailed again from 7 August to 16 September, 2009 (HLY 0905) to continue ECS mapping, joining with the Canadian icebreaker, the Louis S. St.-Laurent. The two vessels mapped together again in 2010 (see HLY1002) and 2011 (HLY1102).

As the only law professor on the science crew, I was along on HLY 0805 and 0905 to better understand
the science behind the legal process that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea establishes for states making ECS submissions. As to why the US is mapping now, even though it has not yet acceded to the Convention, read on both here, and in the Law of the Sea notes below.

Thanks to
Vermont Law School and especially to Larry Mayer, Director of the University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, for making my part in the trip possible.
Thanks, as well, to Adriane Colburn, for opening new windows on and for the deep.