A long-simmering struggle over who owns the Arctic sea floor intensified last week, as Russia submitted an updated territorial claim—together with new seafloor maps and samples to support it. Russia’s claim to an additional 1.2 million square kilometers of seabed near the North Pole sets up a potential clash with other Arctic nations. Denmark has asserted ownership of part of the area claimed by Russia, and Canada is also expected to file an overlapping claim.
The competing submissions represent “a battle of the countries’ ambitions” to control the Arctic, and an effort to capture “the North Pole brand,” says geophysicist Nina Lebedeva-Ivanova of the University of Oslo. And they are sure to fuel technical debates, because the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which entered into force in 1994, links territorial claims to the fine points of under sea geology.
A new pollution study in Europe using a van to chase other vehicles and measure their tailpipe emissions finds that newer, diesel-fueled, heavy trucks and buses emit, on average, 34% more of the health and climate hazard known as black carbon than older vehicles of the same types.
Greenland is the land of escaping lakes. In the summer, when soot lands on the ice sheet’s snowy surface and the Sun begins to melt the snow, bright blue lakes form on top of the ice. Just as on land, the water seeks a way down.
Sometimes, instead of carving surface channels, water trickles into the ice sheet through crevasses and vertical shafts called moulins. In the most dramatic cases, a lake can burst through a kilometer-thick ice sheet and rush to the bottom of the glacier in a forceful waterfall. There, under high pressure, water may help the glacier glide a little faster over the rock below.
Just how fast, however, is the subject of an ongoing debate. Continue reading
In July, a helicopter pilot flying over arctic Russia’s Yamal Peninsula noticed an odd sight: a roughly 100-foot-wide crater in the permafrost. Images of the crater went viral online, sparking theories of its formation: Was it a meteorite? A missile strike? A botched alien landing?