A yearlong Russian mission to study the dynamics of Arctic ice is under way. Given Russia's claiming of the North Pole earlier this year, the results could have many economic consequences as they do political.
ITAR-TASS, the Russian news agency, published a report today about the mission.
The study, it said, was a critical piece of research that would lead to development of northern Russia, better weather and climate forecasts and critically the development of oil and gas fields believed to be locked up beneath the ice.
That potentially huge oil wealth, made accessible by global warming (Arctic sea ice retreated to the greatest extent ever recorded, by far, in the summer of 2007) could shift the geopolitics of the world, particularly if peak oil scenarios prove true. Russia is already a world leader in oil exports, and its power and wealth would only grow if it is able to exploit more energy sources in the Arctic.
The question of which nations can legitimately claim territory in the Arctic is a messy one, with five nations able to claim portions based on the reach of the continental shelf out into the open ocean.
The Russian mission, North Pole 35, is part of the International Polar Year, an international study of the earth's icy poles. With luck, the spirit of cooperation that governs that scientific endeavor will spill over into the political sphere.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.