Here Be Arctic Dragons


One year ago Russia planted a flag of ownership on the seabed underneath the North Pole.

Now, with the ice melting before our eyes, the 21st century’s first gold rush is on.

Want to know just who’s after the Arctic’s virgin oil, gas, and minerals? A new map shows the disputed territories that states might lay claim to in the future…

The Arctic Map was put together by researchers at Durham University and shows agreed boundaries, known claims, and potential areas states might claim.

It reflects disagreements over maritime jurisdiction in the Arctic. And the potential for a lot more. Particularly over the continental shelf more than 200 nautical miles from coastlines.

So far the Arctic states have followed the rules for establishing seabed jurisdiction set out in the 1982 Law of the Sea. No one expects such gentlemanly behavior to survive the strike of the first gold nugget.

A pdf of the map explains what all the pretty colors mean.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones’ environmental correspondent, lecturer, and 2008 winner of the Kiriyama Prize and the John Burroughs Medal Award.