Scientific Discoveries in the Central Arctic Ocean Based on Seafloor Mapping Carried Out to Support Article 76 Extended Continental Shelf Claims


Despite the last decades of diminishing sea-ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, ship operations are only possible in vast sectors of the central Arctic using the most capable polar-class icebreakers. There are less than a handful of these icebreakers outfitted with modern seafloor mapping equipment. This implies either fierce competition between those having an interest in using these icebreakers for investigations of the shape and properties of Arctic Ocean seafloor or, preferably, collaboration. In this presentation examples will be shown of scientific discoveries based on mapping data collected during Arctic Ocean icebreaker expeditions carried out for the purpose of substantiating claims for an extended continental shelf under United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Article 76. Scientific results will be presented from the suite of Lomonosov Ridge off Greenland (LOMROG) expeditions (2007, 2009, and 2012), shedding new light on Arctic Ocean oceanography and glacial history. The Swedish icebreaker Oden was used in collaboration between Sweden and Denmark during LOMROG to map and sample portions of the central Arctic Ocean; specifically focused on the Lomonosov Ridge north of Greenland. While the main objective of the Danish participation was seafloor and sub-seabed mapping to substantiate their Article 76 claim, LOMROG also included several scientific components, with scientists from both countries involved. Other examples to be presented are based on data collected using US Coast Guard Cutter Healy, which for several years has carried out mapping in the western Arctic Ocean for the US continental shelf program. All bathymetric data collected with Oden and Healy have been contributed to the International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO). This is also the case for bathymetric data collected by Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent for Canada’s extended continental shelf claim. Together, the bathymetric data collected during these Article 76 mapping missions comprises, by far, the most comprehensive contribution to the last Version 3.0 of IBCAO.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Conference Date

9-13 December, 2013

Publisher Place

San Francisco, CA


American Geophysical Union Publications

Document Type

Conference Proceeding