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Sea Floor Mapping And Exploration In A Changing Arctic Sea Ice Environment

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Chapter Summary

The earliest charts of the deep Arctic Ocean basins, produced at the beginning of the twentieth century, were based on lead-line soundings collected from ice islands and vessels frozen into the ice, and depicted a single deep basin greater than 3000 m (meters) deep. As technology improved, lead-lines were replaced with single-beam echo-sounders that were deployed from ice islands, aircraft and occasionally submarines. With the beginning of the twenty-first century renewed interest in mapping the Arctic sea floor has come from the recognition of the role that the bathymetry plays in global climate through controlling ocean circulation and thus the distribution of global heat, as well as the large potential for extended continental shelves in the resource rich Arctic under Article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Keywords: Arctic Ocean basins; ice islands; lead-line soundings; sea floor mapping; UNCLOS



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