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IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

Boundary news

Boundary news Headlines

IBRU releases new Arctic map with sea ice changes

(23 January 2017)

IBRU has released a new version of its widely used Arctic map.

 IBRU’s original Arctic map, first released in 2008 and revised several times since, was a landmark product that assimilated a variety of bathymetric (ocean depth) and political data to depict both hypothetical and jurisdictional boundaries in the Arctic Ocean. The map has been reproduced and adapted widely by news organisations and policy advocates and remains a unique resource for anyone seeking a comprehensive understanding of Arctic maritime politics.

The new map builds on the original map but has several new features that focus on current significant changes in the Arctic: the claiming of mineral rights to the outer continental shelf and the decline in seasonal sea ice extent due to regional and global climate change.

As IBRU Director Professor Phil Steinberg explained, “The original map depicted an overall picture of maritime jurisdiction. However, new claims in the Arctic are occurring in distant areas of the outer continental shelf. We wanted to produce a map that highlighted these areas because these are attracting much interest among journalists, lawyers, and politicians.”

Steinberg continued, “What’s really exciting about the new map is that it integrates a depiction of the Arctic Ocean’s complex legal geography with data on sea ice decline during the past 30 years. The two processes – sea ice decline and outer continental shelf claims – are formally unrelated, but when presented together they create an integrated image of a changing Arctic. Few, if any, maps combine data this way.”

IBRU will update both maps as new data become available and new claims are made. The maps may be found at https://www.dur.ac.uk/ibru/resources/arctic/.