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Denmark Files Claim To Portion Of The Arctic


Now let's talk about a resource that countries would rather not share. It's the North Pole. You may think of it as Santa Claus country, but many nations claim that partly because of the vast amounts of oil believed to be hidden underneath. NPR's Sam Sanders reports on the latest country to throw its hat in the ring.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Denmark filed its claim yesterday to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, but Russia and Canada each think the area should be theirs.

DAVID TITLEY: And if you can imagine, like, if you go to a center of a pie - how people take out wedges. That's kind of what's going on at the North Pole right now.

SANDERS: That's David Titley, an expert on the arctic at Penn State. He says Greenland thinks this larger slice of the pie is theirs because of some underwater geography.

TITLEY: There's actually a feature in the Arctic Ocean called the Laamionosof Ridge.

SANDERS: Greenland and Denmark claim that ridge is connected to Greenland and isn't just part of the ocean floor. So a team of scientists in Denmark has been collecting data for years on the shape and thickness and gradient of that land to make their case. But Christian Marcussen, who was on that team - he knows there's still a lot of waiting to do.

CHRISTIAN MARCUSSEN: This is a very lengthy process - quite a long queue at the Commission. This claim is number 76 in the queue.

SANDERS: And even once the Commission makes a decision, it's only a recommendation. And David Titley says if more than one country has a valid claim...

TITLEY: The law of the sea doesn't say who gets what. You know, do you split it down the middle? Or what kind of agreement? It basically says the parties involved should go figure it out.

SANDERS: Denmark says all the countries involved will cooperate, even though there's a lot of oil and natural gas there to fight over. But most important - who gets the rights to the North Pole? And what does that mean for Santa Claus? Marcussen says that's already been figured out.

MARCUSSEN: It's just the Canadians or the U.S. who thinks he lives at the North Pole. But actually it's not the case. He lives in Greenland.

SANDERS: We'll just have to agree to disagree on that one. Sam Sanders, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.