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Canada Will Use Robot Subs to Map Arctic Sea Floor, Boost Territorial Claims

Two robot submarines will plunge into the Arctic next month in an effort to help Canada stake a claim to a large swath of potentially mineral-rich seafloor in the polar region.

Data gathered by the yellow torpedo-shaped probes will become part of Canada’s bid to prove its continental slope stretches far beyond the 200-nautical-mile territorial limit. The matter will be decided by a U.N. panel overseeing claims under the 28-year-old Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark and Norway are involved in a scrum over Arctic bottomland and long-frozen shipping lanes that have started to thaw as global temperatures rise. With scientists predicting that Arctic summers may be ice-free by the 2030s, the five nations have mounted studies they hope will help expand their territories.

At stake is nearly a quarter of the world’s oil, gas and minerals, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The agency estimates that the Arctic accounts for 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered, technically recoverable resources, with about 84 percent of those riches offshore.

NY Times

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