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The Russian ships have  reached the North  Pole.

"According to reports from the Akademik Fedorov research ship, Mir mini-submarines are scheduled to begin their dive on the morning of August 2" - Spokesman for the St. Petersburg-based Arctic research institute

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A Gazprom spokesman said Wednesday that the Russian energy giant expected "major new discoveries" of oil and gas reserves under the Arctic Ocean, and had large-scale prospecting plans for the region.

"We have approved a program of work on the Arctic shelf, which includes a great deal of prospecting" - Sergei Kupriyanov, Gazprom Press secretary.

The spokesman stressed the potential vastness of the Arctic shelf's reserves - the Shtokman field alone in the Barents Sea holds an estimated 3.8 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.

"This is more than we have supplied to Europe over the past 30 years. Less than 5% of the Arctic shelf has been explored, and we are sure that major new discoveries will follow".

Two Russian Mir mini-submarines are to dive 4,200 meters below the Pole in what is seen as a publicity stunt designed to prop up Russia's claim to 1.2 million sq kilometres  of the territory - the underwater Lomonosov and Mendeleyev Ridges - which Russia says is the continuation of its continental shelf and which is believed to contain mineral resources. The claim has been challenged by other countries.
The UN has yet to rule on the claim. The area around the Pole is currently an international territory administered by the International Seabed Authority.
Researchers in the Mir 1 and Mir 2 mini-subs will take soil and fauna samples on the ocean bed, leave a Russian flag and a message to future generations in a capsule, and establish a video link with the International Space Station.

Source Novosti

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Russia's expedition aimed at symbolically claiming a vast section of the Arctic is approaching the point where the first-ever dive below the North Pole is to be made.

AkademikFyodorov.jpg

The Akademik Fedorov research vessel carrying two mini-submarines to dive 4,200 meters  below the Pole is trailing a nuclear icebreaker and is set to reach its destination at between 4 and 8 p.m. Moscow time (1-4 p.m. GMT).

 "Favourable weather conditions are expected in the area: weak winds and visibility of up to 20 kilometres" - Russia's Arctic Institute.

The first-ever dive below the Pole is set to gather scientific data and is seen as a publicity stunt designed to prop up Russia's claim to 1.2 million sq kilometres  of the territory - the underwater Lomonosov and Mendeleyev Ridges - which Russia says is the continuation of its continental shelf.
Russia's veteran explorer and lawmaker Artur Chilingarov, who will be in one of the mini-subs, said earlier the Mirs were capable of working at depths down to 6,000 meters, but had only been tested at 2,000 meters. He also said retrieving the vessels was an equally tricky task.
Under international law, the five countries with territory inside the Arctic Circle - Russia, the U.S., Canada, Norway, and Denmark, which controls Greenland - can claim only a 320-km  economic zone around their coastlines.

Source Novosti


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North Pole
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Two Russian mini-subs have made a test dive to the floor of the Arctic Ocean near Russia's most northerly islands.
The subs reached a depth of 1.3km  at a point 87km north of the Franz Josef Land archipelago.
The dives were a trial run ahead of a planned descent later this week to leave the Russian flag on the seabed 4km below the North Pole.

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Russia is sending a mini-submarine to explore the ocean floor below the North Pole and find evidence to support its claims to Arctic territory.
Two parliamentarians, including veteran explorer Artur Chilingarov, are part of a team planning to dive 4,200m below the Arctic Ocean on Sunday.
The team's ship is following a nuclear powered ice-breaker, setting sail from Murmansk port in the Barents Sea.

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News Release : Students, Museum Visitors, and Web Surfers Can Join First Search for Life on the Arctic Ocean Floor
A multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers is conducting the first search for life and hot springs on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. Through the use of the World Wide Web and satellite communications, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and nine partner museums are bringing thousands of students and citizens along with them.
On July 2, WHOI researchers and communications specialists sent the first of 40 days of dispatches and photo-essays from the icebreaker Oden, which researchers are sailing into the ice pack of the Arctic in order to explore the seafloor mountain chain known as the Gakkel Ridge. Reports from the groundbreaking expedition to the world's most isolated ocean are posted daily on the Polar Discovery web site, which also offers podcasts, games, video and audio clips, and a forum for emailing questions directly to researchers at the Pole.
This month, the research team will conduct live satellite phone conversations from the icebreaking ship to visitors at partner museums across the United States. Through these Live from the Poles events, students and other visitors will have the opportunity to interact directly with researchers while they are working in the fielddriving robotic vehicles, deploying ocean sensors, and hunting for new communities of life.

Participating museums include: The Field Museum, Chicago; Birch Aquarium at Scripps, La Jolla, California; Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre, Edgewater, Md.; the Museum of Science, Boston; Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh; Liberty Science Centre, Jersey City; the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC; the Houston Museum of Natural Science; the Houston Museum of Natural Science; and Pacific Science Centre, Seattle.

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Arctic tundra
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A series of ponds on the Arctic tundra that have formed a crucial component of Ellesmere Island's ecosystem for 6,000 years have largely dried up and blown away in a single generation, says new research that suggests climate change may be affecting the North faster than anyone thought.

"It's very strong evidence that the Arctic is warming and that it's warming faster than we thought it was going to happen" - Marianne Douglas, a University of Alberta biologist who's been studying the ponds on the east coast of Ellesmere Island since 1983.

In a paper published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Douglas summarises research she and her fellow researchers have conducted on a series of ponds on Cape Herschel.

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Russian leader Vladimir Putin has made an astonishing bid to grab a vast chunk of the Arctic, giving himself claim to its vast potential oil, gas and mineral wealth.
His audacious argument that an underwater Russian ridge is linked to the North Pole is likely to lead to an international outcry.

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Russian geologists say they have data that would support a claim to about 1.2m sq km (463,000 sq miles) of energy-rich territory in the Arctic.
Russia has not staked a formal claim to that area - which is the size of France, Germany and Italy combined, Russian media report.
The geologists spent 45 days studying the Lomonosov underwater ridge.
The Law of the Sea Convention allows states an economic zone of 200 nautical miles, which can sometimes be expanded.

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Sediment cores retrieved from the Arctics deep-sea floor by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Programs Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX) have provided long-absent data to scientists who report new findings in the June 21 issue of Nature. A team of ACEX researchers report that the Arctic Ocean changed from a landlocked body of water (a lake stage) through a poorly oxygenated estuarine sea phase to a fully oxygenated ocean at 17.5 million years ago during the latter part of the early Miocene era. The authors attribute the change in Arctic conditions to the evolution of the Fram Strait into a wider, deeper passageway that allowed an inflow of saline North Atlantic water into the Arctic Ocean. Scientists believe that the deep-water connection between the northern Atlantic and Arctic Oceans is a key driver of global ocean circulation patterns and global climate change.      

To see the Nature article, click here.

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