Arctic Update Header
August 3, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate have adjourned for the August recess.



Mapping Tool Used for Gulf Spill Response Expanded to Arctic. A federal interactive online mapping tool used by emergency responders for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been expanded to include the Arctic, to deal with increasing ship traffic and proposed energy development. Use of the Environmental Response Management Application, or ERMA, was announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement on July 31. ERMA will bring together all of the available information needed for an effective emergency response in the Arctic, NOAA officials said. The Cordova Times  


Oil Drilling in AlaskaRussia Should Increase Hydrocarbon Production While There is Demand. [Opinion] Russia will only be able to maintain its position as a major oil and gas supplier if it starts developing its Arctic fields. This goal is stipulated in the exploration and mining program until 2030. But Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that "every 50-70 years the world experiences an energy revolution, and nobody knows where we will land with our hydrocarbons in the future." Dmitry Medvedev said the development of the Arctic shelf is a strategic goal because it is estimated to contain up to 25 percent of the world's shelf hydrocarbon reserves. However, the structure and volume of Russia's Arctic shelf reserves have not been assessed and their development is hindered by the lack of infrastructure, a social base and funding, he said. The prime minister proposed using public-private partnership mechanisms and modern investment projects to pursue the issue. RIA Novosti  


Gray WhaleGray Whale Baby Boom is Noted in Alaska and California. A gray whale baby boom appears to be under way along Alaska's arctic coast. Scientists tracking marine mammals in the Chukchi Sea report an unprecedented number of sightings of gray whale calves in July. The biggest number previously counted was 18, reported in 1982 and 2011. Those tallies were for the full season, which runs from late June/early July until October. But 57 cow-calf pairs were recorded between July 1 and July 26 this year, according to the federal Alaska Fisheries Science Center. The News Tribune 


Snow DragonChinese Icebreaker Completes Unprecedented Arctic Voyage. A Chinese icebreaker completed the Arctic Northeast seaway late Thursday, marking the first such voyage by a Chinese vessel and opening an Arctic route connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic for future Chinese science expeditions. In completing the voyage, the icebreaker Xuelong or Snow Dragon channeled through five marginal seas of the Arctic Ocean: the Chukchi Sea, the East Siberian Sea, the Laptev Sea, the Kaka Sea and the Barents Sea. Global Times 


shellShell Starts Prep Work in the Arctic. Shell still hasn't received final permits for its Arctic drilling plans, but the company is starting to send vessels north anyways. Two of the company's support vessels - the Aiviq and the Fennica - left Unalaska early this week for the Chukchi Sea. The icebreaker Tor Viking is expected to join them in the next few days. Together, the vessels will start prepping the drill site for the Noble Discoverer's arrival. "This is what planning for success looks like and this is what efficiency looks like," says Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith. "And these are days, of course, in a shortened season already that we want to use as efficiently as possible." Alaska Public Radio 


Why is China Seeking More Influence in Arctic? As rising temperatures melt ice caps and uncover previously inaccessible natural resources and sea routes, the Arctic has caught the attention of countries near and far - including the world's second-biggest economic power, China. At the center of the action is the Arctic Council, the most important intergovernmental organization in the region. Now, China is seeking to become a permanent observer. "China wants a larger say in the council, which is the only organization which sets the agenda for Arctic affairs," said Chen Gang, a research fellow at the National University of Singapore's East Asian Institute. Alaska Dispatch


China's Second Polar Expedition Icebreaker to be Built. China is set to build a new icebreaker for polar expeditions after a basic design contract was signed by the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration (CAA), the Polar Research Institute of China and Aker Arctic Technology Inc. of Finland, reports Xinhua on July 31, 2012. The new icebreaker will be China's second and should be completed in 2014. Xue Long is China's current icebreaker. It was built in the Ukraine as a polar region cargo ship and was modified in 1994 for Chinese Artic and Antarctic research expeditions. It is equipped with weather observation and navigation equipment. It also has seven laboratories and a data processing center. It can break through ice almost 4 feet thick. The Examiner 


The Frozen Frontier: Is Shell ready for the risks of Arctic drilling?[Blog] Just two years after BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, another oil industry giant is poised to begin drilling in an even more forbidding, unpredictable and remote environment: the Alaskan shoreline. Shell is moving forward with at least two Arctic wells this year, at a time when confidence in the oil and gas industry's risk management practices is remarkably low. In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, several reports have found that many oil and gas companies-not just BP-were poorly managing the risks of offshore drilling. As it prepares to move into the Arctic, has Shell set itself apart from its competitors, or is the company taking avoidable risks in an unforgiving environment? Forbes 


nuunavutNunavut's Capital Besieged by Wind-Blown Sea Ice. The shores of Iqaluit, the capital of Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, are blocked with ice, stretching about 200 kilometers (124 miles) out into Frobisher Bay, keeping hunters and campers stuck in the city. The build-up of ice is the result of southerly winds pushing it inland. The ice that's coming in is old, hard, and tricky to maneuver through. Harry Flaherty, president of Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, said everyone is feeling the impact in the community of approximately 6,700 people. Alaska Dispatch 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.R. 1171, Marine Debris Act Amendments of 2012 (Farr, received in the Senate and reported to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation)


H.R. 5856, Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013 (Young, placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar)


H.R. 6274, to amend the Indian Arts and Crafts Act to clarify the definition of Indian and Indian organization for the purposes of that Act (Rahall, introduced and referred to committee)


S. 3504, A bill to help fulfill the Federal mandate to provide higher educational opportunities for Native Americans (Bennet, introduced and referred to committee)

Future Events    


healthmeetinglogo15th International Congress on Circumpolar Health, August 5-10, 2012. This event is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Society for Circumpolar Health, and the International Union for Circumpolar Health.  The forum will consider community participatory research and indigenous research; women's health, family health, and well-being; food security and nutrition; social determinants of health; environmental and occupational health; infectious and chronic diseases; climate change health impacts; health service delivery and infrastructure; and behavioral health.


Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Field Hearing on U.S. Coast Guard Operations in Alaska, August 6, 2012. The Senate Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee will hold a field hearing in Kodiak, Alaska.  The hearing will focus on the nation's need for a robust United States Coast Guard presence in Alaska as the nation begins to pursue expanding opportunities in northern waters.


98th meeting of the US Arctic Research Commission, August 9-10, 2012. Fairbanks, AK. For more information, go to USARC 98th Meeting Draft Agenda 


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.


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.


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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