For the third consecutive year, the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Task Force, chaired by the Department of State, will conduct a joint Arctic mission with the Government of Canada this summer to collect scientific data pertaining to the extended continental shelf and Arctic seafloor. As in the past two years, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent will participate in the mission. The joint operations will be conducted from August 7 to September 3.
The 2010 continental shelf survey mission will cover regions over the Canada Basin, the Beaufort Shelf, and the Alpha Mendeleev Ridge. This joint collaboration saves millions of dollars for both countries by managing expensive Arctic field operations to maximize data collection while increasing scientific and diplomatic cooperation. The mission will help delineate the outer limits of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean for the U.S. and Canada, and will also include the collection of data in the disputed area where the U.S. and Canada have not agreed to a maritime boundary. Coastal States have sovereign rights over the natural resources of their continental shelves; both the U.S. and Canada will be collecting scientific information to satisfy the criteria for delineating the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles as set forth in the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Both the USCG Cutter Healy and Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent alternately will break ice for the following ship during the mission. The Healy will map the shape of the seafloor using a multibeam echo sounder while the Louis S. St-Laurent will collect multi-channel seismic reflection and refraction data aimed at determining sediment thickness.
The past two years of cooperation between the U.S. and Canada have proved to be very successful, and the United States looks forward to continuing this effort with Canada as we explore the unknowns of this unique underwater landscape. The two countries plan to continue their Arctic cooperation in 2011.
Additional information on the joint U.S.-Canadian Extended Continental Shelf cruise is available at:
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Evan Bloom, Director of the Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., was at the Embassy last week leading a digital video conference on Arctic Policy issues. Among the audience were academics, representatives from the Yukon government, and reps from the Yukon Council of First Nations. Discussion and Q&A following Mr. Bloom’s presentation focused around Arctic Council reform, climate change, research initiatives, and government priority on environmental affairs.