Staking out new territory

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The "ownership" of the Arctic is "governed" by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and it states that the five polar nations -- Canada, Russia, the U.S., Denmark and Norway -- are the ones who can stake a claim. Only problem is that there is no dry land so any exploration has to be done by air or by sea. Conditions there are not what one would call hospitable by any stretch of the imagination. Adding some interest is the very good possibility that huge quantities of oil are waiting to be found. Canada is launching its own expedition only they are using their brains and not their brawn. From the Canwest news service/Canada.com:
Unmanned robot subs key to Canada's claim on Arctic riches
The Canadian government has commissioned a pair of miniature submarines - torpedo-shaped, robotic submersibles - to probe two contentious underwater mountain chains in the Arctic Ocean, part of the country's quest to secure sovereignty and potential oil riches in a Europe-sized swath of the polar seabed.

The twin Autonomous Underwater Vehicles are being built by Vancouver-based International Submarine Engineering Ltd. in a $4-million deal with Natural Resources Canada, Defence Research and Development Canada and other federal agencies.

The submersibles, scheduled to be launched in 2010, would be sent on a series of 400-kilometre missions north and west of Ellesmere Island, Canada's northernmost land mass and the country's gateway to the open Arctic Ocean - the scene of an international power struggle over undersea territory and petroleum resources believed to be worth trillions of dollars.

Federal scientists have been gathering evidence in recent years in support of a Canadian submission due in 2013 under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which will ultimately determine how much of the Arctic sea floor each of the five polar nations - Canada, Russia, the U.S., Denmark and Norway - will control.

The key criteria for determining sea floor extensions to Canada's continental shelf is whether science confirms geological links between the country's northern coastline or High Arctic islands and two key underwater mountain ranges - the Alpha and Lomonosov ridges.

In early October, Canada and the U.S. completed a joint seabed-mapping mission in the Beaufort Sea, a region widely seen as the top prize in the Arctic oil rush. But like other research in support of Canada's UNCLOS submission, the Beaufort Sea project involved icebreakers towing survey equipment along the surface of the water to record data about the shape and structure of the ocean bottom.

But the bright yellow, six-metre-long, 1,800-kilogram submersibles - being designed to cruise a long, pre-programmed course above the Arctic's underwater mountains - would allow Canadian scientists to gain more detailed information about the geology of the polar seabed.

Jacob Verhoef, the chief federal scientist responsible for Canada's Arctic mapping mission, said Friday that the AUVs being built will make it much easier to conduct seabed surveying in the sometimes harsh polar conditions that can buffet ships, ground helicopters and create long delays in data collection.
Heh -- very clever idea! Here are the people who will be building the autonomous exploration vessels: ISE Here is the website for their AUV's: Fully Submersible AUVs Looks like a fun place to work!

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on November 9, 2008 2:26 PM.

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