Report: Denmark to lay claim to North Pole
The summer sun sheds light on an iceberg near the town of Ilulissat, Greenland.
May 18th, 2011
12:09 PM ET

Report: Denmark to lay claim to North Pole

The Kingdom of Denmark is preparing to claim ownership of the North Pole, according to a Danish media report.

In a document leaked to the Danish newspaper Information, Denmark will ask the United Nations to recognize the North Pole as a geologic extension of Greenland, the vast Arctic island that is a Danish territory. Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen confirmed the annexation attempt, Information reported.

According to The Copenhagen Post, "The kingdom is expected to make a demand for the continental shelf in five areas around the Faroe Islands and Greenland, including the North Pole itself."

Denmark has set its sights on the geographic North Pole, a fixed point in the Arctic Ocean at 90 degrees north latitude and 0 degrees longitude. The magnetic north pole, the one your Cub Scout compass points to, is near there but moves around all the time as Earth's magnetic field shifts, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Five countries - Canada, Denmark (via Greenland), Norway, Russia and the United States (via Alaska) - have coasts on the Arctic Ocean, but none has ever claimed ownership of the pole. Working under a United Nations mandate, high-ranking diplomats have met several times to work out a plan for mutually acceptable boundaries.

"We are in the middle of an important and civilized process of how to usefully manage the last area in the world not owned by anyone," Greenland President Kuupik Kleist told Information. "... If we did not, we would leave it to those who have already filed claims, or who will do it. It is therefore a must that Denmark is preparing claims."

It's unclear how the claim will go over with the other Arctic countries, but initial reactions have been mild.

Despite longstanding Russian interest in the region, at least one Russian media outlet was sanguine about Denmark's approach.

"This fits in well into the contemporary international law regime of the Arctic," Vassily Gutsulyak, an expert with the Institute of State and Law in the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in an interview with The Voice of Russia.

Although the Danish document downplays the economic potential of its proposed claim, the Voice of Russia said the region holds vast reserves of gas and oil, as well as such minerals as coal, gold, copper, nickel, tin and platinum. Climate change also promises to open useful shipping routes across the Arctic, it said.

A Canadian expert greeted the news with enthusiasm.

"This is a positive development because Denmark ... is working in a framework of international law," University of British Columbia (Canada) professor Michael Byers told Postmedia News. "It is exactly how these matters are supposed to be resolved."

However, not all Canadians are willing to let the pole go without a fight. A tongue-in-cheek editorial on the online forum The Mark said:

"We'll be damned if we let those no-good, well-dressed, soft-spoken, architecturally inclined, generally peaceable Danes get away with it."

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Filed under: Canada • Climate change • Denmark • Earth • Energy • North Pole • Norway • Russia • U.S.
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. Paul Bishop

    Not a bad idea. What nation wouldn't like to boast, "Hey, we own the North Pole! Take THAT USA. You got purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain, but we got the North Pole!"

    May 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOVEITORLEAVEIT

      You can have it. It's going to melt anyway.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Santa Claus

      Excuse me....

      May 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Way to go, Santa!!!!

      I am sure Santa can find a jury of elves to rule in his favor.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • KawiMan

      Santa will now have to pay taxes just like everyone else.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CalgarySandy

    It is not true that no country has laid claim to it. Canada has and always has. I know that the American press is unaware that Canada exists except to slam us when we do not support US war mongering. We patrol the area and have for a very long time. It has to do with the our coastal rights. Coastal rights are an international agreement. Until it started to melt such that the Northwest Passage is clear enough to be safe no other country could be bothered to watch over it. The reason they want it now is for control over this newly available passage for shipping and for the potential oil reserves. The US has a tiny sliver of coast on Alaska but not close to the North Pole. Compared to other claimants the US is pizzing into the wind. The Inuit who live close to the passage where settlements have been built for civilians and the military there want it to remain with Canada. We have ice breaking ships up there.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zippy

      Did you actually read the article? The U.S. has absolutly nothing to do with this. Geez, some people are so delisional they can turn anything into an anti-US rant.
      Lighten up and have another beer, eh?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • American Girl

      This article isn't about Canada and the US. No reason to start bashing on the US. Stick to the points in the article and find someplace else to complain about the US. Get over us.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat Munson

      Re read the article, the US has nothing to do with this. Canada is and will always be respected by everyone. I am from the US.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      What are you talking aboot eh? Laurence and Phillip must be off air or something

      May 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonato

      Boy someone has some issues with the US.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob oh

      snorting too much maple syrup are we?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • george

      Justin Bieber is why we don't support Canada. If you take him back we might think about some support.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cavermarkk

    This is why a science person should write these ariticals. "The magnetic north pole, the one your Cub Scout compass points to" is not correct. The North Pole of your compass points North because it is attraced to the South Magnetic Pole which is currently located in the northern hemisphere.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Loblaw

      Whhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat??

      May 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rog

      I think that Cavermarkk successfully illustrated why a science person *should not* write these articles. 😛

      May 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • FactChecker

      This article uses the term "Magnetic North Pole" correctly and un-ambiguously. You might object to the difficulty in keeping this straight when the physics of a magnet are being studied, but you will just have to live with it. Yes, the pole of a free-floating magnet that points north is called the North end even though it is actually the opposite of the North Pole that attracts it. Tough; get used to it.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blue

      I read that 6 times to see if I got it right and am still shaking my head.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • george

      You might want to think about wandering over to the doomsday article. That comment might make some sense to those people.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • publius enigma

      Actually the compass needle does not point either direction. It 'aligns' itself with the earths magnetic field lines. It doesnt care or know where the north pole is, all it knows is what direction the magnetic lines are at that position of the compass. If it had to sense the actual magnetism of the north pole it would be too great a distance to do anything.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gervo

    I don't think Santa wants to be Danish.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ally

      Good one.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • aka The Jump King

      ROTFLMAO

      May 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • uh whatever

      How about we given the Schwarzenegger instead?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      ...but he is. He's from Greenland which is a territory of Denmark. and last we spoke, he was just fine. "Tat's how it's always been", he said. 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TheJanitor

    If the US will stop with the gasoline taxes and proposed highway usage taxes, hygrogen fuel for cars will make the need for the oil under the arctic ice almost unecessary for centuries to come. The ice itself will much more valuable as drinking water and fuel. Would the last person out please clean up the mess and turn out the lights...

    May 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JohnnyJett & The Dirty Socks

    I claim the North Pole and rename it HermsVille! There I have just placed my virtual flag in the ice. 🙂

    May 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Scout

    Cub Scouts are not the only ones to use compasses.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. v

    do not give it to them. I repeat DO NOT give it to them, they will proceed to pump out all the oil and use it for their benefit. and in addition they will charge royalties from everyone who uses a compass.
    declare the north pole an inseparable counterpart of the south pole and treat it the same way they are treating antarctica.
    Free North Pole!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mahdeealoo

    My family bought the north pole 1,000 years ago for 20 polar bears. HA, beat em to it! Seriously, if Denmark is awarded custody, then at least it would be a peaceful place. Sort of like it already is, except under Danis rule.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • mahdeealoo

      Danish rule. Sticky 'h' key caused from polar bear drool.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kevin

    And in other news, a irate Santa Claus is quated as saying "So they say it's 'unclaimed' do they? Well, I know of a certain country that will be getting coal in their stockings this year...here's a hint- it rhymes with 'fenmark'..."

    May 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      *quoted ( I hate these tiny little keys...)

      May 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rhinooo

    I claim the moon. It is now official property of me!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. al fresco

    denmark rules

    May 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. al fresco

    and when they find oil there, the u s will try to claim it

    May 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JayinSF

    LOL Denmark – you're silly! Cute, but silly!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. publius enigma

    By what basis? Its not a land mass, its frozen ocean. This is as silly as if the US claimed ownership of the Pacific ocean since we have hawaii in the middle of it.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
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