Cold War Looms Between Canada and Russia Over Arctic Borders

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | August 13, 2014 4:54 PM EST

Canada has deployed two icebreakers to the cold Arctic region to amass evidence that will prove it has more jurisdiction over the area than Russia.

REUTERS/NASA Earth Observatory
The B-31 Iceberg is seen before, (top) on October 28, 2013 and after separating on November 13, 2013, from a rift in Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier in this NASA Earth Observatory handout image. Scientists are monitoring an unusually large iceberg - roughly six times the size of Manhattan - that broke off from an Antarctic glacier and is heading into the open ocean, although not in an area heavily navigated by ships. REUTERS/NASA Earth Observatory/Holli Riebeek/Handout via Reuters.

Icebreakers Terry Fox and Louis S. St. Laurent will go on a six-week mission to map the Lomonosov Ridge, an undersea feature. This area extends from Ellesmere Island to the North Pole.

The mission is part of Canada's efforts to extend its continental shelf to that seabed.

The Canadian government in December 2013 filed before the United Nations an application regarding the outer limits of its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean. It maintained it has rights to claim the North Pole because it lies within Canadian territory.

The exploration, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said, was a move toward "securing our sovereignty while expanding our economic and scientific opportunities by defining Canada's last frontier."

Apart from Canada, Norway, Denmark and Russia are likewise saying they have claims over the Lomonosov Ridge and that it is a natural extension of their respective continental shelves.

The ridge is abundant with minerals and oil. It runs beneath the ocean and close to the North Pole.

Data from the U.S. Geological Survey said the region holds 30 per cent of the world's undiscovered natural gas, along with 15 per cent of oil.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the Canadian government will do everything in its power to ensure that Canada is given and acquires the international recognition of the full extent of its continental shelf, including the North Pole.

First discovered by the Soviet high-latitude expeditions in 1948, the Lomonosov Ridge spans 1,800 km from the New Siberian Islands over the central part of the ocean to Ellesmere Island of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The width of the Lomonosov Ridge varies from 60 to 200 km, and it rises 3,300 to 3,700 m above the seabed. 

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(Photo: REUTERS/NASA Earth Observatory / )
The B-31 Iceberg is seen before, (top) on October 28, 2013 and after separating on November 13, 2013, from a rift in Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier in this NASA Earth Observatory handout image. Scientists are monitoring an unusually large iceberg - roughly six times the size of Manhattan - that broke off from an Antarctic glacier and is heading into the open ocean, although not in an area heavily navigated by ships. REUTERS/NASA Earth Observatory/Holli Riebeek/Handout via Reuters.
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