The latest country to make a claim for the North Pole: Denmark. Back in 2007, Danish scientists surveyed a 1,240-mile-long underwater mountain range beneath the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia, and by 2012 they concluded that Greenland's continental shelf is connected to the ridge, the AP reports. As Greenland is a semi-autonomous Danish territory, Denmark plans to deliver a claim (for a 345,600-square-mile area) today to the UN panel in New York that's working to decide who controls the area. "The Lomonosov Ridge is the natural extension of the Greenland shelf," says a senior geophysicist with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. "Coincidentally, the North Pole, which is a tiny, tiny abstract spot, lies in the area."
Russia and Canada are also vying for the North Pole, an area believed to be home to 13% of the world's undiscovered oil and 30% of its undiscovered gas. As polar ice melts, new shipping lanes through the area are also a possibility. In 2008, the five countries with areas surrounding the North Pole, which also include the US and Norway, agreed to let the UN decide the issue. But don't expect a resolution anytime soon: "After the UN panel had taken a decision based on scientific data, comes a political process," Denmark's foreign minister tells the AP. "I expect this to take some time. An answer will come in a few decades." Overlapping claims will be dealt with bilaterally, and Reuters reports that Denmark has acknowledged Norway's continental shelf overlaps the Danish claim. (Read more North Pole stories.)