Russia probes arctic shelf through summer

Dec. 13, 2010 at 9:08 AM
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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Russian scientists are expected to continue their examination of the arctic continental shelf through the summer, a lead researcher said.

With sea ice receding in part because of global climate change, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia are examining territorial claims to the arctic as once-trapped hydrocarbons become more exposed.

Moscow is trying to convince the international community that it has a greater claim to the arctic. A 1982 convention gives bordering nations the right to extend arctic claims if the government can prove its continental shelf extends beyond a 200-mile limit.

An expedition launched in late summer aims to find the external boundaries of the Russian continental shelf. Artur Chilingarov, a Russian special envoy to the arctic and Antarctic regions, told Russian news agency ITAR-Tass the study would last through summer 2011.

"A state program of the arctic research is being fulfilled as a backup for Russian application for the recognition of the external boundary of the continental shelf," he added.

Moscow will present its findings to the United Nations once the study is finalized by 2013. Moscow claimed part of the region in 2001 but the United Nations demanded more proof the area was part of Russian territory.

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