Arctic Update Header
August 16, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate have adjourned for the August recess.


Week of the Arctic, August 13-18, 2012. The Arctic is front and center in peoples' minds.  Increased maritime traffic and new opportunities for development have brought about more reasons to understand and work toward safe and secure operations both on land and off Alaska's coast. To help Alaskans understand these critical challenges and issues at stake in the Arctic, the Institute convened the first Week of the Arctic last year, drawing over 550 participants to five events in four days. The 2012 Week of the Arctic will take place August 13-18 in Anchorage, Alaska. Week of the Arctic events will include: 

The Week of the Arctic's signature event is the annual Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award Dinner on Friday, August 17th. This year we'll be recognizing Red Dog Mine for their sustainable development in the North.



Coast Guard SealCoast Guard Evaluates Arctic Amphibious Craft. Personnel from the 17th Coast Guard District and the Coast Guard Office of Boat Forces are assisting the Coast Guard Research and Development Center in conducting evaluations on some Arctic craft in Barrow Aug. 13-17, 2012. As the Coast Guard's role above the Arctic Circle expands, boats, or vessels smaller than 65-feet long, capable of operating in icy conditions are becoming necessary to accomplish parts of the Coast Guard's statutory missions. "We're looking for a craft that is capable of transiting through and over ice and ice-strewn water," said Rich Hansen, a Branch Chief at the Coast Guard Research and Development Center, in New London, Conn. "We're also looking for shallow water capability, and the ability to operate in areas with minimal infrastructure. Ideally we would like to find something that could be flown in on Coast Guard aircraft in the event of an incident requiring our response." Alaska Native News 


greenlandRecord Melting in Greenland in August. The situation in Greenland Island is becoming terrible as experts confirm a shocking melting in the region. Following news of extended melting in Arctic sea ice, researchers are finding that Greenland's ice sheet is reaching record low levels as well. There are still four more weeks until the end of the melting season and researchers fear that more records will be broken. August 8 marked the maximum melting of the ice of this summer, confirmed Mr. Marco Tedesco, Assistant Professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences at The City College of New York. The French Tribune 


Alaska Looks at Turning Natural Gas to Electricity. An idea studied years ago by an oil company for producing vast stores of North Slope natural gas without building a giant pipeline has emerged again, this time before state legislators trying to find relief for residents crushed by heating and electricity costs. Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce 


canadian flagCanadian Government Does Not See a Military Threat in the Arctic, Says DND. In June, Defence Watch wrote an article, based on DND documents, about how the Canadian Forces and DND view Russia's interest in the Arctic. The Conservative government has pointed to the military activities of Russia and other nations in the Arctic as a reason for a buildup of the Canadian Forces' presence in the North. Government officials have maintained that the F-35 stealth fighter the military wants to purchase is required so the Royal Canadian Air Force can intercept Russian military planes that may fly near Canada's northern borders. The DND documents, obtained through the Access to Information law, pointed out that Russia's creation of new military units for the Arctic and its decision to conduct a survey of its seabed in the region doesn't pose a threat to Canada. Ottawa Citizen 


USCG Cutter Healy to Begin First of Three 2012 Arctic Missions. U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, the nation's only operational polar ice breaker, left Dutch Harbor Aug. 9, to begin the first of three Arctic missions scheduled during 2012. Healy departed its homeport of Seattle July 30, for a deployment that will include three missions that support scientific research in the Arctic.  After a brief stop in Dutch Harbor for logistics and to welcome aboard the 38 members of the HLY-12-01 science party, the cutter continued its northbound transit through the Bering Strait to the Chukchi Sea. Maritime Executive 


Salazar, KenSalazar: Shell Drilling Delay Due to Barge Problem. Shell Oil's delay in drilling Arctic Ocean exploratory wells off Alaska's northern shores is not due to heavy ice or federal regulators, according to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The setback to drilling this year during the short open water season, he said, is due to Shell's inability to complete construction on a spill response barge that remains in Washington state. "If they had got it done, they might be up there today, because the waters in the Chukchi (Sea) around the so-called Burger find are already open," he told reporters Monday. "So it's not a matter of ice. It's a matter of whether Shell has the mechanical capability to be able to comply with the exploration effort that had been approved by the government." Alaska Journal  


[Canada] TSB Pushes for More Safety Measures in North, Landing accidents and collisions continue to be a problem in region. Canada's Transportation Safety Board says it is continuing to push for aviation safety across the country and the Arctic. Two safety issues remain conspicuous on the board's Watch List. The first is landing accidents and runway overruns, and the second is collisions with land and water, both of which apply to the Arctic. "And in both of those issues, the Safety Board has identified those types of accidents which we haven't seen a decrease in the numbers. So, by identifying them in our Watch List, we're more or less communicating to the industry and the regulator, Transport Canada, that there is a concern there," said TSB spokesperson John Lee. CBC News 


NOAANew Director for NOAA Corps and Office of Marine and Aviation Operations Appointed. Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca M. Blank yesterday appointed NOAA Rear Adm. Michael S. Devany director of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps and the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. This action follows the recent Senate confirmation of Devany's promotion to the rank of rear admiral. As director, Devany will be responsible for the agency's fleet of research and survey ships and aircraft, as well as guiding the 311 uniformed officers and about 1,000 civilian personnel assigned to the NOAA Corps and the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. NOAA 


Northwest Passage is Open Again- NASA. A satellite image released by NASA last week shows a key channel that forms part of the Northwest Passage is partially free of ice. The image, acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite, shows that more than two-thirds of the Parry Channel was ice-free on July 30. The median coverage for that date was 79 percent from 1980-2010. The Parry Channel separates Victoria Island from Melville Island in Canada's far north. Parry Channel is part of the northern route through the Northwest Passage. When navigable, the Northwest Passage offers a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Environmental News Network

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal action was taken on Arctic legislation.

Future Events    



2nd Cargo Airships of Northern Operations Workshop, August 22-24, 2012. Researchers from NASA Ames Research Center will provide insights into the new technologies that form the solid engineering basis for modern cargo airship systems. Speakers from the mining, oil, and gas industries will describe their transportation challenges and how they plan to exploit cargo airships in support of their businesses. Local Alaskan air freight firms will discuss how cargo airships can complement existing air transport fleets by providing additional capability and expanding air shipping services. The world's leading developers of airships will provide design and operational details on new cargo airships they're currently developing and preparing to deploy for commercial service. Representatives from the financial community will present the many options available for what has often been the missing element of airship development and operations, funding. The website will soon be updated. 


The Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24-27, 2012. The summit will be hosted by Alaska Dispatch and will bring together leading voices in this conversation, including residents from the small villages that comprise Alaska's coastal communities, state, national and international leaders, the heads of shipping and industry, as well as international policymakers and the news media. The goal of the summit is to sharpen the focus on the policy and investment needs of Alaska's Arctic through a series of high level meetings, presentations, investor roundtables and original research.


10th Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, September 5-7, 2012. The 10th Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region will take place in Akureyri, Iceland 5-7 September 2012. The conference will be attended by members of parliament from the eight Arctic countries and the European Parliament, Arctic indigenous peoples and a variety of observers. The main items on the agenda are:

1.       Arctic Governance and the Arctic Council

2.       Economic opportunities in the Arctic

3.       Human Development in the Arctic: Interplay of Research, Authorities and Residents


The Conference will adopt a statement directed to the Arctic Council, the governments in the Arctic Region and the institutions of the European Union.


inuitconferencelogoArctic/Inuit/Connections: Learning from the Top of the World; October 24-28, 2012.  The 18th Inuit Studies Conference, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, will be held in Washington, DC. The conference will consider heritage museums and the North; globalization: an Arctic story; power, governance and politics in the North; the '"new" Arctic: social, cultural and climate change; and Inuit education, health, language, and literature.  


28th Wakefield Symposium: Responses of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change, March 26-29, 2013. This symposium seeks to advance our understanding of  responses of arctic marine ecosystems to climate change at all trophic levels, by documenting and forecasting changes in environmental processes and species responses to those changes. Presentations will focus on collaborative approaches to understanding and managing living marine resources in a changing Arctic, and to managing human responses to changing arctic marine ecosystems. Hosted by Alaska Sea Grant and sponsors.

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