Arctic Update Header
September 7, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate have adjourned for the August recess.  Congress returns next week.


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.  


Fifth Polar Law Symposium 2012, September 6-8, 2012. The theme for the symposium is quite open. It covers a wide variety of topics relating to the Arctic and the Antarctic. These include:

  • Human rights issues, such as autonomy and self-government vs. self-determination, the rights of indigenous peoples to land and natural resources and cultural rights and cultural heritage, indigenous traditional knowledge.  
  • Local and national governance issues.
  • Environmental law, climate change, security and environment implications of climate change, protected areas and species.
  • Regulatory, governance and management agreements and arrangements for marine environments, marine mammals, fisheries conservation and other biological/mineral/oil resources.
  • Law of the sea, the retreating sea ice, continental shelf claims.
  • Territorial claims and border disputes on both land and at sea.
  • Peace and security, dispute settlement.
  • Jurisdictional and other issues re the exploration, exploitation and shipping of oil, gas and minerals, bioprospecting.
  • Trade law, potential shipping lines through the north-west and north-east passages, maritime law and transportation law.
  • The roles and actual involvement of international organizations in the Polar regions, such as the Arctic Council, the European Union, the International Whaling Commission.

For more information, please see the Arctic Center




Healy, Coast GuardHealy 1202 Research Cruise. A blog detailing the daily progress of the Healy as researchers study the Arctic Ocean and map the sea floor. Blog post from September 5, 2012: Today we returned to the seafloor knoll that was partially sounded on August 31 to fully map the feature and determine if it rises above the 2500 m depth contour. (The 2500-m contour is a key element in establishing limits of the extended continental shelf.) Our multibeam mapping determined that the highest point of the knoll is about 2690m deep and thus does not give us a 2500m contour to work with. Nonetheless, we now have a detailed survey of the knoll to replace the vague shape on the existing maps. Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping Joint Hydrographic Center  


NSF logoNational Science Foundation Realignment Plans. The National Science Foundation (NSF) yesterday announced plans to realign four program offices in the Office of the Director to maximize research and education outcomes for science and engineering, while enhancing NSF's operational agility. The proposed organizational changes include the Office of Polar Programs would become a division within the Directorate for Geosciences. National Science Foundation 



Modeling Arctic Waters from the Bering Sea through the Bering Strait to the Arctic Ocean.  Three videos introduce the oceanographic modeling work from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). The video Modeling Ice in the Arctic shows a regional ice model coupled with a global climate model. "We've had discussions about how the nature of the pack ice is changing from being really solid and thick, all multiyear ice, to being patches of multiyear ice with the first year ice in between," said Kate Hedstrom, Oceanographic specialist from the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center at UAF. The video Quinhagak Drifters is a cool collaboration with scientists and students from the town of Quinhagak, Alaska to study overlooked near-shore waters of the Bering Sea. Simulating Bering Strait Region Oceanography video is an eye-opening look at the importance of the Bering Strait and the steps needed to properly model its influence on the regional oceanography. "Bering Strait is a first order contribution to the fresh water budget of the North Atlantic. So there is a strong connection between the world's ocean currents and what comes through Bering Strait," said Seth Danielson, UAF staff oceanographer. Watch videos on 


Hcapitalouse to Seek Action Next Week on Six-Month Continuing Resolution. The House may vote as early as Sept. 13 on a six-month stopgap funding measure, an action aimed at averting a showdown over spending that could lead to threats of a government shutdown before the election, congressional aides say. Democratic and Republican leaders agreed before the August recess to move an initial fiscal 2013 continuing resolution (CR) that would reflect the $1.047 trillion cap on discretionary spending set in the 2011 debt limit law (PL 112-25). Congressional Quarterly


Foss Maritime Will Expand Ocean Tug Fleet. Seattle-based Foss Maritime Co. will add three new Arctic class tugs to its fleet, to broaden its capacity to take on oil and gas projects in the Arctic, the company said Aug. 27. Construction of the first tug is to start early in 2013 at Ross' Rainier, Ore. shipyard. Glosten Associates is Foss' Naval architecture partner on the project. The new tugs have been designed to withstand the rigors of Arctic operations and are suited to work across the globe, said Gary Faber, president and chief operating officer. The Cordova Times  


Lawsuit Seeks Release of Arctic Offshore Safety Data. A lawsuit filed Aug. 30 in federal court in Anchorage seeks release of testing data that would shed some light on whether an incident similar to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico could happen offshore in Arctic Alaska. The concern of plaintiff Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor and expert in oil spill response, comes as Shell Oil moves closer to its plan to drill up to five exploratory wells on the Alaska Arctic Outer Continental Shelf. Steiner is also a board member of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, whose attorneys filed the lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement in Anchorage. The Cordova Times 


Eni Finds Hydrocarbon in Norwegian Arctic Prospect, Partner Says. The energy firm Eni has received an indication of hydrocarbons presence in the Salina prospect in the Arctic Barents sea, Det norske oljeselskap, one of its partners in the project communicated on Friday. "Drilling operations in the reservoir section are still at an initial phase and the final results are thus not yet available," Det norske indicated in a statement. Eni is the operator of production license 533 with a 40 percent stake, Lundin Petroleum has 20 percent, RWE has 20 percent, and Det norske has 20 percent. Reuters


Oil Drilling in AlaskaOil Company Delays Arctic Exploration: Norwegian Firm Cites Concerns Over Shell's Regulatory Challenges. A Norwegian oil and gas company is delaying plans to explore for oil offshore in the Alaska Arctic until at least 2015 because of concerns about regulatory challenges faced by rival and sometimes partner Shell Oil Co., according to a company spokesman. The decision by Statoil came in August, before federal regulators decided to allow Shell to drill in the Chukchi Sea, but that development doesn't change things, said Jim Schwartz, a Houston-based spokesman for Statoil. Anchorage Daily News


Position Announcement FYI. This week, the US Coast Guard posted a hiring announcement for a permanent civilian Executive Director for the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research (ICCOPR). The position is a GS-13 and the application can be accessed here. The hiring announcement will close on Friday, September 21, 2012.


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal action was taken on Arctic legislation.

Future Events                      


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.  


U.S.-Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum (2012) Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum 2012, November 13-15, 2012. The Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum is a biannual event with representation from government, industry, academia, Aboriginal groups, and northerners from both Canada and the United States. The forum provides an opportunity for United States and Canadian decision makers, regulators, Aboriginals, industry members, non-governmental organizations and scientists to discuss current scientific research and future directions for northern oil and gas activities. The focus is on technical, scientific, and engineering research that can be applied to support management and regulatory processes related to oil and gas exploration and development in the North. The North Slope Science Initiative and the U.S. Department of the Interior is hosting, in partnership with our counterparts in Canada and the United States, the third United States - Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum from November 13 to 15, 2012, at the Hilton Hotel, Anchorage, Alaska. The Forum will showcase the value of Northern scientific research in support of sound decision-making for oil and gas management. 


Wakefield28th 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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