Countries Redefine Their Borders — Under the Sea

Countries around the world are in a mad dash to claim control of territories not on land but underwater — on the ocean floor, according to Wired magazine.

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM), who are working for the U.S. government, are hoping to show that the United States has sovereignty of more territory along the continental shelf than was previously realized, Wired reported.

Redrawing the boundaries and redefining international borders under the sea could mean that the U.S. will be at least 386,000 square miles bigger than it is now — and $1.3 trillion richer, since that's the estimated worth of the oil, gas and other resources that come along with the area in question, according to the magazine.

The 1994 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has made all this moving around and squabbling over territory possible, because it allows nations to shift their borders to line up with the edges of their continental shelves.

Advances in underwater mapping technology and environmental changes like the thawing of ice in the ocean have also helped intensify the Arctic land grab frenzy, Wired reported.

Countries must map a number of points off-shore to prove that their continental shelves belong to them.

Click here to read the entire story in Wired magazine.