First Russia-Canada Expedition Via North Pole

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Russian explorers and scientists are prepping to begin the first crossing from Russia to Canada by way of the North Pole, Reuters reports.

The expedition kicks off from Russia's Arctic shores on February 17, commencing a 5,000-mile journey across the shifting ice floes and frigid temperatures of the North Pole, reaching northern Canada by May and finishing the four-month journey in late June. The team will travel in a specialized vehicle equipped with overinflated tires to tackle snowdrifts and fracturing summer ice.

The eight explorers, including two Russian-born Canadian citizens, will observe polar bear populations and note signs of climate change along the way, but also hope to execute some of the first tests of Russia's GLONASS satellite navigation technology, which Russia hopes will rival the dominant U.S. GPS technology.

There is some concern that Russia, whose Siberian oil fields may be declining, also hopes to weight its stake on the untapped petroleum of the Arctic seabed.

–Nick Davidson