The five countries with coastlines along the Arctic Ocean are making a case to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf for “extended continental shelf”—seafloor beyond their exclusive economic zones—to gain rights to resources on and under the seabed. (The water stays open to all people, according to international law.) The countries will have to settle large overlaps, notably around the North Pole and the Lomonosov Ridge. Only a small parcel or two of seafloor might remain open for the rest of the world.
This article was originally published with the title "Setting Boundaries" in Scientific American 321, 2, 34-35 (August 2019)