New Arctic map puts focus on 'areas of uncertainty'
British scientists have drawn up a new detailed map of the Arctic, showing areas that could spark future disputes among countries — including Canada — with rival claims to the region.
The map is the work of researchers at Durham University in England who based their design on longstanding and more recent arguments over sovereignty and ownership.
The region is currently divided among Canada, the United States, Norway, Russia and Denmark.
Researchers hope the new map will be a useful tool for politicians and policy-makers, Martin Pratt, director of the International Boundaries Research Unit at the university, told CBC News.
"Russia and Norway have both defined areas of continental shelf beyond 200 [nautical] miles to which they claimed," he said. "The areas of uncertainty relate to what Canada, Denmark and the U.S.A. will do in relation to the continental shelf."
Russians plant flag, spark protest
Last year, Canada protested to Russia after Russian scientists planted their national flag on the seabed at the North Pole.
Russia is claiming a larger area, saying the Arctic seabed and Siberia are linked by the same continental shelf. The UN rejected the claim, citing lack of evidence, but the country is set to resubmit the application in 2009.
The Russians are not the only ones eyeing the Arctic seabed. Denmark hopes to prove that the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of the Danish territory of Greenland, not Russia.
Canada, meanwhile, plans to spend $7.5 billion to build and operate up to eight Arctic patrol ships in a bid to help protect its sovereignty.
In May, Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark and Norway signed a declaration that a decision on control of the potentially oil-rich area will be reached in an orderly way.
A United Nations panel is supposed to decide on Arctic control by 2020.