Arctic Update Header
August 19, 2013
The House of Representatives and the Senate remain on recess through September 9th.


arctic shipping Opinion: Canada, U.S. may be missing the boat on Arctic shipping. "Canada may be missing the boat on using Arctic shipping to encourage development at the same time Russia steams ahead on its own northern waters. 'At this stage, we're not really in the game,' said John Higginbotham, a Carleton University professor and former Transport Canada deputy minister. 'The marathon started some time ago, but we haven't sent in our application yet.'" Global News 


Canadian military testing new $620,000 'stealth' snowmobile for clandestine Arctic operations. "The Canadian military has been secretly test-driving a $620,000 stealth snowmobile in its quest to quietly whisk troops on clandestine operations in the Arctic. The Canadian Press has learned that soldiers have taken the new hybrid-electric snowmobile prototype on trial runs to evaluate features such as speed, noise level, battery endurance and acceleration." National Post 


How Are Alaska's Schools Doing? "Last year, half of Alaska's schools were considered failing under the federal No Child Left Behind law. Next year, every single school - even the state's blue ribbon ones - would have gotten an 'F' grade. So, Alaska decided to join dozens of other states across the country and apply for a waiver. Friday, the state Education Department has unveiled its new system for judging schools, with hopes of providing a better picture of how well the state's

education system is working and where it needs to be improved." Alaska Public Media 


Alaska Native, Native American students falling behind as other groups pass by. "Native American students, including American Indians and Alaska Natives, have seen virtually no improvement in their academic achievement gap at the same time that other minority groups have experienced improvements, a new report from The Education Trust finds. The gap between these students and white students has actually widened." Alaska Dispatch 


Alaska tribal courts fight to establish authority. "Alaska's tribal courts have fought for years to establish themselves in the eyes of the federal and state governments. They've made progress with a legacy of lawsuits, but there's still more work to be done. The tribal court system was the focus of a three-day Alaska Tribal Court Development Conference held last week in Fairbanks by the Tanana Chiefs Conference that covered everything from the history of the courts to the current issues facing them." Anchorage Daily News 


Climate Change Is Altering the Taste and Texture of Fuji Apples. "In chemically comparing modern-day Fujis with tests on samples during the 1970s, a team of Japanese researchers found that today's apples are less firm and have lower concentrations of a specific acid that contributes to their taste. Their conclusion, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, is that by making apple trees' blooming time earlier in the year and raising temperatures during apple maturation, climate change has slowly but surely changed the taste and texture of the apples we hold so dear." Smithsonian Magazine 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski have introduced S.1474, the Alaska Safe Families and Villages Act of 2013. This legislation attempts to address and remedy the fact that residents of remote Alaska villages suffer disproportionately from crimes and civil disturbances rooted in alcohol abuse, illicit drug use, suicide, and domestic violence. S.1474 would establish the Alaska Safe Families and Villages Self Governance Program, which would make grants to Indian Tribes who align their criminal and drug enforcement policies with those of state agencies.

Begich, Murkowski Bill Tackles Domestic Violence in Rural Alaska. Senators Begich/Murkowski Joint Press Release 


Federal bill takes aim at drug, alcohol-fueled ills of rural Alaska. Alaska Dispatch  

Future Events

logo with background(Dutch Harbor/Unalaska, Alaska).  The 101st meeting of the US Arctic Research  Commission will be held in Dutch Harbor/Unalaska. The meeting's draft agenda is now available here.


You can also view the 101st Commission Meeting announcement in this entry at the Federal Register.



Alaska Arctic Policy Commission Meeting, August 28-29, 2013 (Unalaska, Alaska). The 3rd meeting of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission will, among other things, continue its mission to positively influence federal Arctic policy. "Toward that end, the Commission will compile a list of all the current federal programs that directly affect Arctic Alaska and Arctic policy, and track and thoroughly investigate each program. These findings will inform the Commission's Final Report."


7th International Workshop on Ice-Drilling Technology, September 9-13, 2013 (Madison, WI). "The event is sponsored by the Ice Drilling Program Office- Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDPO-IDDO), International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS), International Glaciological Society (IGS). Following in the footsteps of the six previous ice drilling technology workshops held between 1974 and 2006, the Seventh International workshop on Ice Drilling Technology will take a comprehensive look a the latest innovations in ice drilling technology, including ice coring, borehole logging, subglacial sampling, core logging and handling, and field logistics."


Arctic Exchange, September 16-17, 2013 (Stockholm). "The Exchange brings an evolutionary concept in networking and business information delivery. The concept is designed to meet specific business objectives during two days for promoting cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic communities addressing key issues such as sustainable business development and regional protection. As more and more data has confirmed that the Arctic is extremely rich in oil and gas reserves, locations such as Greenland and the Barents Sea have seen a huge growth in interest from the hydrocarbon industry. Despite the opportunities offered, there are many challenges that may hinder operations. The presence of cold temperatures, ice and a lack of infrastructure pose logistical problems that make exploration expensive and risky." 


The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit, October 8-10, 2013 (Akureyri, Iceland). "The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit is a multidisciplinary event expected to draw together several hundred industry officials, scientists, academics, policymakers, energy professionals and community leaders to collaborate and share leading approaches on Arctic energy issues. Building on the work done at the highly successful 2007 Arctic Energy Summit and Technology Conference, the 2013 Summit will address energy extraction, production and transmission in the Arctic as it relates to three thematic areas: richness, resilience and responsibility.  The 2013 Summit will be hosted by the Institute of the North in cooperation with local host Arctic Portal." 


The Inaugural Meeting of The Arctic Circle, October 12-14, 2013 (Reykjavik, Iceland). "The inaugural Arctic Circle will be held October 12-14, 2013. Subsequent Arctic Circle gatherings will be held in a different Arctic location each year, so that participants can become familiar with the challenges, needs and opportunities presented by these unique environments. The agenda for the first Arctic Circle gathering will include plenary sessions with international leaders on emerging topics of interest, such as: Sea ice melt and extreme weather; Security in the Arctic; Fisheries and ecosystem management; Shipping and transportation infrastructure; Arctic Resources; and Tourism."


The 2nd Forum for Arctic Modeling and Observational Synthesis (FAMOS Workshop) "School for Young Arctic Researchers," and "Arctic Scientists Workshop," October 21-25 2013 (Woods Hole, MA) "The Forum for Arctic Ocean Modeling and Observational Synthesis (FAMOS) is an international effort to focus on enhancing collaboration and coordination among arctic marine and sea ice modelers, theoreticians, and observationalists. This collaboration is based on a set of activities starting from generating hypotheses, to planning research including both observations and modeling, and to finalizing analyses synthesizing major results from the field studies and coordinated numerical experiments.  


The major themes of this year's workshop include, but are not limited by studies focused on:

  • Sea ice conditions (drift, thickness and concentration)
  • Atmospheric conditions and circulation regimes
  • Circulation of surface, Pacific and Atlantic water layers
  • State and future of freshwater and heat content
  • Horizontal and vertical mixing
  • Process studies and parameterizations
  • Model validation and calibration
  • Numerical improvements and algorithms
  • Ecosystems, biological issues, and geochemistry"

More info is available at the project's website: 


Workshop: Community Oil Spill Response in Bering and Anadyr Straits, November 7-8, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska). "This workshop will bring together diverse stakeholders to learn more about and respond to community desires to be part of oil spill first-response efforts that help protect food security and other local resources; come to agreement on the multiple roles local community members can play in responding to oil spills; and create an action plan for moving forward on this topic. The workshop is sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society." 


Arctic Cities, Global Processes, and Local Realities, December 2-4, 2013 (Rovaniemi, Finland). "The conference is organized jointly by the City of Rovaniemi and the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland, Finland. The goal of the conference is to present the latest scientific research and knowledge about the global processes as they become local realities. Even if the Conference is scientific in orientation, it aims to bridge science and knowledge into action by bringing top scholars to share their research results, and to organize joint discussion with the leaders of the Arctic Cities. Sessions include: Rovaniemi Process: past, present, future; Arctic responses to global environmental problems; people and extractive industries; tourism in the Arctic; the Arctic in global economy; climate change in the Arctic; indigenous peoples in cities; and, Arctic global flows. Cross-cutting themes include: Arctic cities and global processes; management and governance in the Arctic; and, Arctic together with non-Arctic."


International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences, May 22-26, 2014 (Prince George, British Columbia). "The International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) announces the 8th International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS VIII).  ICASS is held every three years, bringing together people from all over the world to share ideas about social science research in the Arctic. ICASS VII, held in Akureyri in June 2011, attracted 450 participants from 30 different countries.  ICASS VIII's theme is Northern Sustainabilities. By using the plural, we underscore both that "sustainability" has social, cultural, economic, political and environmental dimensions, and that definitions of the concept vary."

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