Canada sends icebreakers to Arctic to gather data

Toronto - Canada has sent two icebreakers to the High Arctic to gather scientific data in support of its plan to bid for control of the sea floor under and beyond the North Pole.

The coast guard vessels Terry Fox and Louis St Laurent set out on Friday on a six-week journey that will take them to the eastern side of the Lomonosov Ridge, a long undersea feature that runs from near Ellesmere Island in Nunavut northward over the pole.

"If ice conditions permit, this survey will include areas in the vicinity of the North Pole," said a government statement.

The trip comes after Canada made a partial submission in December to the United Nations body that is considering claims from different countries to sections of the Arctic sea floor. That submission involved 460 000km²,  but Prime Minister Stephen Harper stepped in at the last minute to insist Canada extend its claim further.

Scientists have suggested it looks as if the ridge is connected to the Canadian land mass, but Canada has only done aerial surveys of the ridge once it gets past the pole.

Arctic experts point out that Russia and Denmark also argue the Lomonosov Ridge extends from their shores. The North Pole actually lies on the Danish side of the ridge, as well as on the Danish side of a line that runs equidistant between Ellesmere Island and Greenland.

The government offered no information on Friday on the cost of the mission. A second mapping trip is planned in 2015.

Countries, including the US, are increasingly looking to the Arctic as a source of natural resources and shipping lanes. The US Geological Survey says the region contains 30% of the world's undiscovered natural gas and 15% of oil.

Countries must submit proposals to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to request an extension of their nautical borders.

If Canada's claim is accepted by the UN commission, it would dramatically grow its share.

The submission that Canada filed with the UN is essentially a series of undersea co-ordinates that map what the government claims is the country's extended continental shelf.

Read more on: canada environment
Daniel Weaver 2014/08/10 09:41:51 PM
How much does a polar bear weigh?
Daniel Weaver 2014/08/10 09:42:11 PM
Enough to break the ice....
Kelly Scott 2014/08/11 12:32:19 AM
yeah well by the time the methane and the positive feedback loops continue on their journey of no turning back.. owning the arctic is a joke.. we are all heading towards mass extinction so stop wasting time and energy on useless posturing because it's too late for inflated egos. yepp
Adam Charlesworth 2014/08/11 02:11:04 AM
Why gather the data, Mr. Harper isn't going to pay attention to pesky science or facts anyway. He should just take a page out of buddy Rob Fords playbook and make up the data he wants and then save the taxpayers the cost of the expedition.
Reinier Kanis 2014/08/11 03:01:44 AM
Its sad that UN still has not returned to Canada half of the BC coastline. Its insane that in todays world we keep pretending that the US owns half of our coastline which Americanos call the Alaska Panhandle. The dispute started before I was born, and 60 years later no progress has been made other than its been mined so badly, I am not sure Canada wants responsibility for the cost of cleaning up the mess. I am sure these talks will start after our children have died of old age too.