Thursday 20 August 2009

Arctic Dreams

I spent a summer in the Arctic in 1986, the year as Barry Lopez wrote a book titled as above. At a recent job in Kazakhstan, I met ice engineers whose colleagues I knew in Calgary two decades earlier! How do you get marine engineers and naval architects in the middle of two continents in Calgary and Atyrau? By developping offshore oil&gas in the Arctic Islands and the Caspian Sea!

The Arctic region is very much in the spotlight, not only around global warming but also its potential resources, as well as the border disputes in engenders. Maps helped highlight the geopolitical issues then and now. The Canadian, Danish, Russian and US geological surveys have dedicated sites. Note also the UNEP, the upcoming 3P Arctic conference and ESRI Best Practices dedicated to the region.

Border disputes are a GIS application if there ever was one, because they rely on:
  • intricate coastal mapping
  • bathymetry and topography
  • national and international law
While there are many resources, UNEP GRID/ARENDAL must be one of the earlier and more comprehensives ones at 20 years of age. Their map resource website is a great starting point.

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