We showed a Canadian icebreaker in our earlier post on the battle for the melting north; here is the US Coast Guard Healy, which according to Robert Lee Hotz in the Wall Street Journal is "are gathering the data legally required to extend national territories across vast reaches of the mineral-rich seafloor usually blocked by Arctic ice. Fathom by fathom, multibeam sonar sensors mounted on the Healy's hull chart a submerged plateau called the Chukchi Cap, in a region that may contain 25% of the world's reserves of oil and natural gas."
The Journal continues: "In an era of climate change, these frozen assets are up for grabs, as melting ice allows detailed mapping and, one day perhaps, drilling.
Rising temperatures thinned the ice pack to a record low this month. If current trends continue, the Arctic could become ice-free in summer months by 2040, polar researchers say.
neat shot of the Healy bow. How did they do that?
the Journal concludes:
All told, the undersea territories being mapped by the U.S. encompass an area larger than France. "It holds potential riches beyond your imagination" through sea-floor mining and drilling, said UNH marine geologist James Gardner, who has mapped 347,000 square miles of ocean bottom as part of the U.S. Law of the Sea project. In all, maps are being prepared for eight major extensions of U.S. seafloor authority, including several areas in the Arctic also claimed by Russia and, perhaps, Canada.
"It is a little overheated to say this is now a race to the Arctic," said John Bellinger, legal adviser to the U.S. secretary of state. "At the same time, we are very much aware that other countries, most particularly Russia, have been exercising their rights under the Law of the Sea Convention."
For now, the U.S. has no standing to protest. ::Wall Street Journal