History of International Collaboration on the Exploration and Development of the Arctic

History of International Collaboration on the Exploration and Development of the Arctic

Olga Pasko (Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia), Natalia Staurskaya (Omsk State Technical University, Russia), Alexander Gryaznov (Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia) and Alexander Zakharchenko (Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6954-1.ch001


The chapter discusses the key lines of international collaboration in the fields of exploration and development of the Arctic, from the first autonomous expeditions of the late 19th century to the powerful long-standing joint research conducted by thousands of scholars from all over the world. The chapter outlines the key trends of international cooperation within the framework of the exploration of the Arctic, as well as forecasts its development in the future. It is expected that the long-standing comprehensive studies of the Arctic will be continued due to the specific importance of this region for the future of the mankind. Robotic marine expeditions will start a new era in the exploration of the Arctic Ocean. Taking into account the complexity and high costs of polar studies and the growing interest of many countries to the High North, the international collaboration in the Arctic is expected to grow.
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The chapter is devoted to the analysis of the key trends of international cooperation in the field of development of the Arctic, from single autonomous expeditions dated back to the late XIX century to the best-equipped comprehensive long-term research-focused surveys that are bringing together thousands of scientists from dozens of states. In spite of the fact that the compulsory research programs in the field of astronomy, meteorology, those related to aurora polaris studies as well as hydrographical, hydrological, botanical, zoological and geological research have been implemented since 1881, their technological capacity still meets up-to-date research challenges. The authors have outlined the main formats of international cooperation and suggest a forecast of their prospective development in the field of environmental safety, security of energy supply, logistics, science, trade, etc. There is brief information on the territorial disputes that created conditions for the militarization of the Arctic. It is expected that the long-term comprehensive research of the Arctic will be continued with regard to their role and position in the ongoing global processes that determine further development of the humankind. Due to the complicatedness and expensiveness of the needed research and increasing interest in the Arctic, expressed by many countries, international cooperation in the field of joint research is expected to strengthen and grow.

Discovering and development of new territories in extremal natural conditions is feasible only if it is based on a proper level of science and industry. The building of solid and powerful ships that could force through the Arctic ice and prepare the way for other ships of the team, made it possible to organize and implement the first expeditions. In 1899, the first in the world ice-breaker “Ermak” was built thus starting the development of the Arctic fleet for the exploring of the Northern Sea Route (NSR). From 1900 to 1902, the Imperial Academy of Sciences launched the first Russian research expedition to the Arctic.

On the one hand, the research results of the first and other expeditions that followed were of independent scientific value. On the other hand, they made it feasible to upgrade the technical capacity for new unique data gathering. This peculiarity is missing in the most of the published expeditions’ descriptions. It used to be a practice to stress the braveness of the explorers, history, chronology, specifications of certain expeditions where the discoveries had been made.

This chapter is aimed at the analysis of the mutual development of technical capacities, research goal, and obtained results. This goal is followed by some specific objectives. First, it is planned to evaluate the experience of the first polar expedition as a shift towards international cooperation. Second, the development of international cooperation in the Arctic is going to be considered and analyzed. Third, there will be given an evaluation record on the state-of-art of international cooperation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Militarization: An increase of military sector in the general structure of a national economy.

Logistics: A management of material and technical supplies.

Territorial Disputes: The disputes between two or more states on the legal affiliation of specific areas.

International Cooperation: A universal mode of interaction between two or more countries based on sharing research results, production, commerce, protection of investments, and industrial know-how.

Arctic Expeditions: The maritime and dry land trips for development of the territory to the north from the Polar circle (66°33’ north latitude) for practical and research solutions.

Arctic: A physical and geographical region of the Earth adjoined to the North Pole that includes all northern territories of North America, the most of the Arctic Ocean, some islands and water areas of the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans; in the south, it covers the tundra edge.

Security of Energy Supply and Environmental Compliance: The provision of the consumers of a steady access to energy resource with a proper regard for the environment.

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