Arctic Update Header
July 2, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 



The House and Senate are in recess this week.




russian flagRussian Arctic to Thaw Up for Tourism. Russia's youngest national park, the "Russian Arctic," is marking its third anniversary. But what's even more important, the park has recently announced its intent to get more tourist-friendly and build four visitor centers 900 kilometers away from the Arctic Pole - three on the far off Archipelagos of Franz Josef Land and one on the northern ridge of the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago. The "Russian Arctic" national park stretches out over 1,500 million hectares of icebound land mass. During the Soviet era, this vast area was closed off from tourists, who were only let to roam into these reaches after the military pulled out. Unlike icy Alaska in the US and Norway's Spitsbergen, the lands that came to be known as the "Russian Arctic" national park have never had an indigenous population of their own. The park can be described as unique for several reasons, its Deputy Director Viktor Kuznetsov says. The Voice of Russia


Norway Looks to Arctic Oil Exploration: The Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy is ready to take drilling rigs to the North Pole. The 22nd License Round announced by Minister of Petroluem and Energy Ola Borten Moe includes as many as 72 blocks in the Barents Sea, several of them near the polar ice ridge, reports the 'Barents Observer'. And Norwegian Arctic drilling will not stop with the 22nd License Round. According to Borten Moe, his ministry is ready to take it all the way to the 84th latitude, the northernmost point in Norwegian waters. MarineLink


Oil Drilling in AlaskaWill Offshore Oil Development in Alaska's Arctic Make State Rich? Don't Count on It. [Opinion] Royal Dutch Shell is on the verge of starting its exploratory drilling campaign in the Arctic waters off Alaska's shores, a move that comes after years of false-starts, litigation and other challenges. At stake for the company is a nearly $5 billion investment so far, with billions more to be spent if it strikes it big. The payoff could be huge for the Netherlands-based company. Shell usually gives itself 1-in-20 odds of discovering commercial quantities of oil during exploration. But in Alaska's Arctic, Shell believes it has 1-in-2 odds of striking it big. For Alaska -- a state that has become used to having oil fund much of its government and fuel its economy -- a showdown of sorts is emerging between the state and federal governments. As federal law currently dictates, chump change is what Alaska can expect if Shell and other oil giants punch into the bonanza-sized fields they hope to find in the Arctic Ocean. Alaska Dispatch


caribouWhy Has Alaska's Largest Caribou Been a Steady Decline? Alaska's largest caribou herd continues to shrink as challenges on its huge range in Northwest Alaska continue to pose problems. The Western Arctic Herd numbered about 325,000 animals, according to the most-recent census by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Although that's just 5 percent less than the previous census in July 2009, it's about a third smaller than the herd's peak in 2003.  Since then, the population has steadily declined 4 to 6 percent a year. State wildlife biologists believe their counts are accurate. Caribou bunch up in tight groups in summer in response to harassment by flies and mosquitoes. Radio-collared caribou within the herd help biologists flying aerial surveys locate these groups. The number of known collared animals relative to the number actually found is an indicator of completeness. Alaska Dispatch


AK Whaling BoatWhaling Talks Focus on 'Too Commercial' Arctic Claims. The annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) is set to open with the focus on hunting by indigenous groups mainly in the Arctic. The five-yearly quotas awarded to Inuit and other peoples are due for renewal, with Greenland asking for an increase. Animal welfare groups charge that much of the meat is sold commercially, and that whales take too long to die. Governments have reportedly agreed not to repeat last year's walkout, and votes are due on several issues. BBC News


Scientists to Produce First 3-D Models of Arctic Sea Ice. Scientists pose for a photograph on the deck of the 'Arctic Sunrise' boat, as they launch from Svalbard, Norway, 78 degrees north of the equator, beginning a month-long expedition through the Arctic. The scientists, working with Greenpeace, will undertake an expedition to the Arctic that will produce the first 3D models of the Arctic sea ice, the group said on Friday. Phys.Org


Report Calls for More Research into Oil Dispersants. The Government Accountability Office says more research is needed on possible environmental problems that could result from using dispersants to break up an oil spill, as BP PLC did after the disastrous 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Advocate reports that the GAO issued its report Friday and found not much testing had been done on dispersants before they were used in the Gulf. The GAO was asked to investigate the use of dispersants following BP PLC's catastrophic April 2010 oil well blowout that killed 11 workers and caused the nation's largest offshore spill. The Eagle


Coast Guard SealFrom Dental Checkups to Safety Training Coast Guard Helps Communities. It may not be immediately apparent what dental fillings and rabies vaccines have to do with the Coast Guard. But in the agency's District 17 -- Alaska -- that's all part of the package. This spring marked the fourth year of Arctic Shield, a Coast Guard outreach program that began as a crossroads into a safer, more efficient Coast Guard presence in Alaska's Arctic. As the Coast Guard continued to access local knowledge to streamline their missions and needs, they were able to identify and provide services for various humanitarian needs among coastal communities. "One of the first programs that we're working on up there is the Kids Don't Float program," said Coast Guard Lt. Jason Smiley. Alaska Dispatch

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered Friday.

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.


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.


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.  

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