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131 Scramble for the North Pole

18 . 05 . 2021

Notes

Watch this on video | Buy us a coffee: Chris / Henry

POLAR NEWSREEL: A new batch of new satellites brings broadband connectivity services to some of the world’s hardest to reach places. German start-up Rocket Factory Augsburg has signed a contract with Norway's Andøya Space for a 2022 maiden flight of the company’s RFA One small-satellite launch vehicle. The Nunavut community of Iqaluit has declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. And the [Icelandic volcano spits lava fountains up to 300 metres](https://www.highnorthnews.com/en/arctic-2050-mapping-future-arctic ) into the sky.

SCRAMBLE FOR THE NORTH POLE: Just a few weeks back media outlets around the globe where alarmed when Russia submitted an extension to its claim in the Arctic Ocean, quoting Canada’s Foreign Minister: “You cannot claim any more.” Diving into that raises the question who actually owns the North Pole and why is it important?

Beginning in 1925 numerous countries have claimed parts of the Arctic based on the so-called Sector Principle, which extends the territorial claim along the longitudes of its land-territory towards the North Pole. Canada was the first country to do so, followed by the Soviet Union and Norway. Later those claims have been based on scientific evidence in the legal framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) finding a peak in 2007 when Russia planted a flag at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. Under current international law, the North Pole and the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it are not owned by any country. As of now, three nations have submitted claims for the seabed below the Arctic Ocean, Russia, Canada and Denmark (Greenland) but none of the claims have been accepted yet and it might take years. So eventually, all three nations will need to sit down and start negotiations on the final delimitations of their Arctic territory, including their competing claims to the pole, and that’s a truly exciting chapter of human history.

One might ask, what all the fuzz is actually about. It’s an estimated 90 billion barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas that are thought to lie under the polar oceans, although the central North Pole region is not thought to be especially rich in fossil fuels.

Claiming the North Pole and thus ownership over it has to do with its symbolic importance rather than access to natural resources. This plays into the narrative of Arctic sovereignty, protecting your Arctic territory, and upholding your Arctic presence. Being able to extract the estimated 90 billion barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas from the seafloor in the middle of the Central Arctic Ocean, is technologically a long ways off. The North Pole is more of a symbolic prize in all this.

Episode 56: The Whiskey War

This is an episode of the Curiously Polar podcast

with Chris Marquardt https://chrismarquardt.com/ Henry Páll Wulff: https://henrypall.com/

Listen to all podcast episodes at https://curiouslypolar.com

All video episodes at https://tfttf.com/curiouslypolarvideo

Find us here: Web: https://curiouslypolar.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/curiouslypolar Instagram: https://instagram.com/curiouslypolar

130 Drifting North

26 . 04 . 2021

Notes

Watch this on video | Buy us a coffee: Chris / Henry

POLAR NEWSREEL Our long-time friend and most favourite of all icebergs, A-68A, is gone. Russia starts its work on a fiber optic cable to connect the Asian part of the Russian Arctic. And in Greenland a new government has taken over with the youngest prime minister in the country’s history.

DRIFTING NORTH A largely unknown episode of polar research tried to cast some light onto scientific observations in the Central Arctic Basin, the first since Fridtjof Nansen’s famous Fram Expedition from 1893-96. Based on observation from the First Soviet High-Latitude Expedition onboard the icebreaking steamer Sadko, the Soviet Union deployed four researchers under Expedition Leader Ivan Papanin onto the Arctic sea ice close to the North Pole. The drift ice station North Pole-1 continued for 274 days, during which the station travelled more than 2600 km. The success but also the observations of this expedition led to a series of 31 drift ice expeditions where 88 polar crews occupied the ice floes for a total of 29,726 drift days, while drifting a distance of 169,654 km. The research program of the "North Pole" drifting stations is unequalled in the 20th century by duration, variety of observational material, importance of scientific discoveries, and number of resolved problems. After the end of the Soviet Union, Russia has picked up the programme in spring 2003 but since the mid-2000s it became more and more difficult due to global warming to find a suitable ice floe to station camp on and several stations had to be evacuated prematurely because of unexpectedly fast thawing of the ice. In December 2020 the ice-resistant self-propelled research platform Severnyy Polyus (eng. North Pole) has been launched. The most unusually egg-shaped floating platform is supposed to replace the previous ice-based drift expeditions and intended for multi-year drifting deployments in very high latitudes.

This is an episode of the Curiously Polar podcast

with Chris Marquardt https://chrismarquardt.com/ Henry Páll Wulff: https://henrypall.com/

Listen to all podcast episodes at https://curiouslypolar.com

All video episodes at https://tfttf.com/curiouslypolarvideo

Find us here: Web: https://curiouslypolar.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/curiouslypolar Instagram: https://instagram.com/curiouslypolar

129 Jeanette: The Mother of Modern Arctic Exploration

25 . 04 . 2021

Notes

Watch this on video | Buy us a coffee: Chris / Henry

Polar Newsreel As the planet continues to heat up, a third of all Antarctic ice shelves risk to collapse, a new study founds. At the same time, Russia orchestrates a complex Arctic military exercise, letting three nuclear submarines surfacing simultaneously through the ice close to the North Pole. It remains to be seen whether this should underpin Russia’s new, extended claim for a larger piece of the Arctic. In Iceland, however, the ongoing volcanic eruption draws a lot of tourism and brings a large number of contenders for this year’s Darwin Award.

The Mother of Modern Arctic Exploration Thanks to Mia Bennett and Antoine Vanner, today’s episode looks into the question how one one ill-fated expedition could impact so many future expeditions in the Arctic.

Following a long-standing theory of an ice-free North Pole and at a time when the United States just recently bought Alaska and started to wonder what lies beyond their new northern-most territory, James Gordon Bennett Jr., the publisher of the most popular and profitable daily newspaper of the time, The New York Herald, set up the USS Jeannette to sail up the Bering Strait, following the hypothesised temperate ocean current, the Kuro Siwo, all the way to the North Pole.

Shortly after the expedition, led by US Navy Lieutenant Commander George Washington De Long, entered the Chukchi sea they charted a new group of Islands north of the New Siberian Islands but very soon got caught in ice and locked up for the next 21 months. After almost two years in the ice, the pressure of the ice crushes the Jeannette and the ship sinks. The 33 men make their way towards the Lena Delta not without carrying the comprehensive ship’s log containing a number of valuable information.

And it’s the ship’s log that make the biggest treasure of that failed expedition. Those records, along with similar data housed in many other archives, are being fed into the 20th Century Reanalysis, a sophisticated weather reconstruction database developed by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration that allows scientists to characterise floods, droughts, storms, and other extreme events from history - and use the violent weather of the past to understand the present.

But further, when in June 1884 wreckage of the ship was found near Julianehåb, todays Qaqortoq, in south-west Greenland, the theory was born that an ocean current flowed from east to west across the polar sea. It gave the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen the idea for his famous Fram expedition that later led to the modern-day MOSAiC expedition of the Alfred Wegener Institut.

So posthumous the so miserably failed expedition became a great success long after its time turning it into the Mother of modern Arctic Exploration.

This is an episode of the Curiously Polar podcast

with Chris Marquardt https://chrismarquardt.com/ Henry Páll Wulff: https://henrypall.com/

Listen to all podcast episodes at https://curiouslypolar.com

All video episodes at https://tfttf.com/curiouslypolarvideo

Find us here: Web: https://curiouslypolar.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/curiouslypolar Instagram: https://instagram.com/curiouslypolar

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