Russia maps five new islands after student discovered them in the Arctic
Iran Press TV
Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:31AM
A Russian Arctic expedition has mapped five new islands in the country's north, three years after a student spotted them in satellite imagery.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that naval and civilian scientists recently took part in an expedition to the five newly discovered islands, where "[t]opographic surveys were conducted."
"A topographic survey has been conducted on the new islands," the statement said. "They've been described in detail and photographed."
The islands – located on the coast of the remote Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Ocean – are created as a result of melting glaciers.
Their size ranges from 900 square meters to 54,500 square meters, according to defense officials.
Russian student, Marina Migunova, discovered the islands when she was onboard a Russian Navy research vessel during a voyage through Arctic waters in late 2016.
Russia has lately been increasing its presence in the Arctic as melting ice opens shipping lanes and reveals incredible riches.
Last week, it launched the world's first floating nuclear power plant to a remote Siberian town near the US state of Alaska.
The vessel, Akademik Lomonosov, is now heading for Chukotka in the Far East, along the Northern Sea Route.
Back in April, Russian President Vladimir Putin put forward a program to build ports and other infrastructure in the Arctic and expand its icebreaker fleet.
He said at the time that Russia plans to dramatically increase cargo shipments across the Arctic sea route.
Putin pointed out that the amount of cargo carried across the shipping lane is set to increase from 20 million metric tons last year to 80 million tons in 2025.
"This is a realistic, well-calculated and concrete task," Putin said. "We need to make the Northern sea route safe and commercially feasible."
The US, in the meantime, was planning what it dubbed as "freedom of navigation" operations – similar to those in the South China Sea– to increase its presence in the North Atlantic and Arctic.
President Donald Trump also floated the idea of purchasing Greenland, the autonomous Danish territory, which is located between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans.
China, as anther world power, on the other hand is not currently planning for a military presence in the region. It has, instead, focused on energy and resources, via investment in Arctic countries.
Beijing is prospecting for minerals in Greenland and has agreed a free-trade deal with Iceland to increase fish imports.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which five Arctic nations are a part of, is also taking an increased interest in the "security implications" of China's activities in the region, said secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg earlier this month.
The current race for increasing presence in the region comes as the North Pole is plagued by an unprecedented heat-wave, which is threatening a global rise in sea levels.
Recent aerial footage above the ocean shows how the ice in the ocean had melted just one week after temperatures reached a record 22 degrees Celsius.
Director of science at WWF, Mark Wright, said urgent action was needed to tackle the problem.
"If all of Greenland's ice were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by 21 feet, meaning cities like London, Sydney and New York would be underwater and the whole of Bangladesh would disappear," Wright said.
He said that this "is the reality of climate change," which, according to experts, is being caused by the man-made increase in greenhouse gas emissions across the course of the past century.
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