Sunday, October 10, 2010

Russian Continental Shelf Mapping in the Arctic Ocean

Russia’s two Arctic expeditions met up last week in the Arctic Ocean. According to a report in the RT on the Lomonosov Ridge expedition, published October 9 and revised October 10, “Members of Russia’s North Pole expedition Shelf-2010 have docked with their colleagues on board the Akademik Fyodorov.”  The article provides little more detail, but supplements other statements made about Russian continental shelf mapping at the International Arctic Forum known as the "Territory of Dialogue" held in Moscow September 22-23, 2010. 

As also reported on the website of Denmark's The Continental Shelf Project, one presentation at the Territory of Dialogue Forum was by Christian Marcussen, Senior Adviser, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.  Marcussen is the Project manager for the Greenland part of the Continental Shelf Project of the Kingdom of Denmark.  His presentation, entitled "Extended continental shelf issues in the Arctic Ocean - an example of cooperation between the Arctic coastal states" is available here, at the Dansk Kontinentalsokkelprojektet (which is a standing link on this weblog's right margin).

The "Territory of Dialogue" website provides information related to the September Moscow forum, including the full program, but also offers a range of information about the Arctic, including a newsfeed covering such stories as the Northern Fleet’s role in Arctic cooperation  and Russia’s Antarctic strategy.

A September 2010 article in Hydro-International provides a useful overview of ongoing Russian, Danish, US and Canadian discussions and mapping efforts regarding the Arctic ocean.

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.