Arctic Update Header
June 27, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will consider legislation to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program. The Senate may then turn to surface transportation legislation or legislation to prevent student loan interest rates from dramatically increasing. The House is expected to resume work on the Transportation-Housing Urban Development spending bill. 


Preserving Strategic Partnerships & Preparing for Transnational Threats, June 25-28, 2012. United States European Command and United States Africa Command hosts a science and technology conference. A session on the Arctic is scheduled to begin at 8am on Thursday. The schedule is available here




arcticcouncilArctic Council Countries to Cooperate in Removing Oil Slicks-official. The Arctic Council member-states are negotiating cooperation in removing oil slicks and preventing oil spills in the Arctic, said Russia's representative at the Council, Anton Vassilyev. He was addressing the participants in an international conference on permafrost studies that is under way in the Russian city of Salekhard, Siberia. Some 500 experts from 35 countries are taking part. A recent WWF report on oil slicks in the Arctic suggested that the development of new deposits in the region should be suspended until new effective ways to prevent oil spills are found. The Voice of Russia 


Salazar, KenSalazar Announces Offshore Leasing Plan for Alaska's Arctic. The Obama administration is preparing to open up more areas in Alaska's Arctic to offshore oil and gas exploration. In a Tuesday morning teleconference from Norway, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar detailed a proposed five-year offshore lease plan that includes areas in Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas. The potential lease sale in the Chukchi would take place in 2016. The lease sale for the Beaufort is planned for the following year. It is good news for Alaska's oil and gas industry."We believe that offshore oil and gas is the next step for oil and gas in Alaska. And the first step is access," says Kara Moriarty, executive director of Alaska's Oil and Gas Association. KTUU 


shellShell is Likely to Receive Permits for Oil Drilling Off Alaska. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday that it was "highly likely" that the agency would grant Shell permits to begin drilling exploratory wells off the North Slope of Alaska as early as next month. Mr. Salazar, while acknowledging that the Arctic presented unique environmental and safety challenges for oil and gas operations, said he was confident that Shell would meet the Interior Department's new standards for offshore drilling. He noted that Shell had successfully tested a new oil spill containment device in Washington State's Puget Sound in recent days and said he believed the company's claims that it could collect at least 90 percent of any oil spilled in the event of a well blowout. "I believe there will not be an oil spill," Mr. Salazar said in a telephone briefing from Trondheim, Norway, where he is participating in an international conference on Arctic drilling safety. "If there is, I think the response capability is there to arrest the problem very quickly and minimize damage. If I were not confident that would happen, I would not let the permits go forward." New York Times  


arctic shippingArctic Sea Ice Shrinks to Lowest June Extent Ever Observed. Sea ice melted back super fast across the Arctic Ocean during the first two weeks of June and now covers the smallest extent ever observed for this time of year, according to the latest update posted by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Bathed in above-freezing air, a patch of ice as large as Illinois has been dissolving on some recent June days under 24 hours of sunshine. That's twice as fast as the expected climatological rate, the NSIDC said. "The main contributors to the unusually rapid ice loss to this point in June are the disappearance of most of the winter sea ice in the Bering Sea, rapid ice loss in the Barents and Kara Seas, and early development of open water areas in the Beaufort and Laptev Seas north of Alaska and Siberia," the update explained. Alaska Dispatch


Snow DragonIcebreaker Xuelong to Head to Arctic Expedition. China's icebreaker Xuelong, or "Snow Dragon," is set to kick off the country's fifth Arctic expedition from the port city of Qingdao on July 2. The vessel will leave its Shanghai base Wednesday for Qingdao, Shandong province, and be berthed there for four days before its journey to the Arctic, said a spokesman with the Qingdao city government at a news conference held Tuesday. The expedition will be undertaken by a 120-member team, including researchers, coordinators, support staff, reporters and the crew of the icebreaker, as well as four scientists from France, Denmark and Iceland and another from Taiwan, according to the spokesman. Xuelong, an A-2 class icebreaker capable of breaking ice 1.2 meters thick, is estimated to travel over 17,000 nautical miles during its 90-day voyage. It is scheduled to return to Shanghai on Sept. 29. China Daily 


Bowhead Whale Hunting BarrowOil Exploration in Arctic Waters Brings Noise to Whalers Domain: Experts try to find out how whales, other sea life react to drilling. As the Arctic Ocean's ice cover declines in summer and oil companies move in with ships, drilling equipment and seismic surveys, what used to be a mostly very quiet home for whales and other marine animals is getting a lot louder. Next month will mark a new stage in oil and gas development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas north of Alaska, when Shell returns to the Alaska Arctic to drill exploratory wells. If it's successful, this could be the beginning of a new boom.

Scientists are asking how whales and other marine animals will react to the sound. The overall level of man-made underwater noise in the Arctic is increasing, not only from oil and gas development but also from shipping and soon from commercial fishing and tourism vessels. Whales, dolphins, walruses and seals all rely on sound in the water. Bowhead whales, for example, are adept at using their voices to navigate in complete darkness through ice. Anchorage Daily News 


canadian flag[Canadian] Coast Guard Ships Head North for Summer Missions. St. John's-based Canadian Coast Guard Ship Terry Fox has left port for a summer of Arctic missions and icebreaking, and the CCGS Henry Larsen will leave June 27 to carry out icebreaking and vessel escort duties as well participating in a number of science missions. The two ships will be joined by the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent which is scheduled to depart St. John's on July 10. The ships play an important role in patrolling the Arctic, and will be used to enforce Canada's sovereignty said Keith Ashfield, federal minister of fisheries and oceans. "Our government is committed to protecting sovereignty and sustaining Canada's north.  The Coast Guard plays vital role in our Northern Strategy. Its fleet and skilled personnel are instrumental in our government's successful arctic missions," he said. The Telegram

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events               


Law of the Sea Convention: Perspectives from Business & Industry, June 28, 2012. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold another hearing on the Law of the Sea Convention, this hearing to focus on the impacts on business and industry.  Witnesses including, president of the US Chamber of Commerce Thomas Donohue, president of the American Petroleum Institute Jack Gerard, President of the National Association of Manufacturers Jay Timmons, and Chairman of Verizon Communications Lowell McAdam.


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. 


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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