SATELLITE images of the elusive North-West Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans have ignited a diplomatic battle between Canada and the US.
The discovery that the entire passage is now ice-free, for the first time since records began, has started a scramble for control of one of the world's most potentially lucrative shipping lanes.
Images released at the weekend by the European Space Agency reveal a dramatic increase in the melting of sea ice. US scientists said it suggested the whole of the Arctic could be ice-free by 2030, far sooner than previously predicted.
The steady melting of the north polar icesheet has already provoked international tensions over the possibility of gaining access to the vast reserves of oil and gas believed to lie beneath the seabed.......
........Russia, Norway, Denmark, Canada and the US are among countries in a race to secure rights to the Arctic that heated up last month when Russia sent two small submarines to plant its national flag under the North Pole. A US study suggests as much as 25 per cent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas could be in the area.
No Virginia, you can't make this shit up.