Arctic Update Header
August 26, 2013


The House of Representatives and the Senate remain on recess through September 9th.  



Arctic sea ice update: Unlikely to break records, but continuing downward trend. "The melting of sea ice in the Arctic is well on its way toward its annual 'minimum,' that time when the floating ice cap covers less of the Arctic Ocean than at any other period during the year. While the ice will continue to shrink until around mid-September, it is unlikely that this year's summer low will break a new record. Still, this year's melt rates are in line with the sustained decline of the Arctic ice cover observed by NASA and other satellites over the last several decades. 'Even if this year ends up being the sixth- or seventh-lowest extent, what matters is that the 10 lowest extents recorded have happened during the last 10 years,' said Walt Meier, a glaciologist with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. 'The long-term trend is strongly downward.'" NASA

Summer Arctic Sea Ice Retreat: May - August 2013
NASA: Summer Arctic Sea Ice Retreat: May - August 2013


Fathom spotlight: Navigating the Arctic's icy waters. "The shipping industry has often been blamed as a leading contributor to the increased carbon emissions, however the resultant melting of the Arctic ice actually poses huge opportunity for the industry. The prospect of cutting voyage time is luring many owners to navigating their ships and cargo through the arctic region, due to the economic opportunity it presents. Therefore, this week Fathom takes a look at the exploration of the new shipping routes across the Arctic and the issues and benefits that ship owners face when it comes to thinking about navigating through the extreme conditions presented in the region to seek aforementioned economic opportunities." Ship and Bunker 


Image: NASA
The Greening Of The Arctic. "A recent review of research on the response of plants, marine life and animals to declining sea ice in the Arctic found that sea ice decline and warming trends are changing the vegetation in nearby arctic coastal areas. The review team analyzed 10 years worth of data and research on the subject. The findings show that sea ice loss is changing marine and terrestrial food chains. Sea-ice disappearance means a loss of sea-ice algae, the underpinning of the marine food web. Larger plankton is thriving, replacing smaller, but more nutrient dense plankton. What that means exactly is not yet understood." Science 2.0


CDQ group battles delegation over quota. "Alaska's Congressional delegation is reluctant to talk about changes in the new Magnuson-Stevens Act until they've heard more from the state, but one thing is certain: they have no intention of changing the Community Development Quota allocations in the Bering Sea. That isn't stopping Coastal Villages Region Fund, or CVRF, from continuing its campaign for more fish. Coastal Villages isn't happy with the response it has gotten from the Alaska Congressional delegation, said spokesman Dawson Hoover. 'For the delegation to hide behind the blanket of the CDQ program is an illusion,' Hoover said." Alaska Journal of Commerce


Russia's Arctic: Mission to protect wildlife. "Russia is planning huge oil and gas developments in the Arctic Ocean off its northern coast - drilling that could threaten pristine wildlife habitats. Large-scale production could begin in the next two decades, if the price of oil rises high enough. Preliminary exploration has already begun, including in the Laptev Sea. But scientists say the region is home to important, thriving populations of walrus and polar bears, which could be put at risk." BBC News 


Greenpeace publicity stunts on Arctic offshore oil drilling provoke officials. "The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise entered Russian waters above northwestern Russia Aug. 24 to protest against Arctic oil drilling and seismic testing, in defiance of Russian authorities who had refused the ship permission to enter the area, Greenpeace reported Aug. 24. But two days later, on Aug. 26, Russian officials boarded the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, in the Arctic to protest against oil drilling." Nunatsiaq Online 


Canada PM Harper's Arctic tour draws mixed reviews. "'There are two different development models at play,' says P.Whitney Lackenbauer, associate professor of history at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. 'The one that the Harper government, I think, is acting upon is the idea that if you have resource development in particular, if you have economic development there's going to be a trickle-down effect that's going to eventually allay a lot of those (social) concerns and improve those indicators.' Opposition critics argue the government needs to improve health and social conditions in the North before meaningful development can take place." Alaska Dispatch 


Inuit council exchanges ideas from polar regions. "Kotzebue hosted members from around the world last week as the Inuit Circumpolar Council met to discuss a wide range of topics impacting Inuit people's worldwide. Among the other topics covered by the council at its Kotzebue meeting were issues of indigenous global sovereignty, said Aqqaluk Lynge of Greenland, the council's chair. With an upcoming United Nations meeting on the horizon, the council met to formulate its stance on issues that were likely to come before the UN. Arctic Council issues were at the forefront of the conversation, too, with shipping safety and environmental issues raised by increased vessel traffic through the Arctic of particular importance to the group. The group supported a recent disaster declaration for the St. Lawrence walrus harvest, which was the lowest in memory." Arctic Sounder 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.

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 Arctic Circle, an open assembly for international cooperation on Arctic issues, will hold its first gathering October 12-14, 2013, at the Harpa Reykjavík Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavík, Iceland. This event will facilitate working meetings across issues and organizations and provide a forum for discussions hosted by different international and Arctic institutions. Agenda topics will include emerging topics of interest, such as sea ice melt and extreme weather, security, 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: 


17th Sitka WhaleFest: "Arctic Sea Change: What's Ahead?" October 31 - November 3, 2013, (Sitka, Alaska).
 "Sitka WhaleFest presents a unique science symposium blending local knowledge and scientific inquiry concerning the rich marine environment of our northern oceans. Surrounded by community and cultural activities, the weekend events include symposium lectures, interactive student sessions, marine wildlife cruises with scientists, a marine-themed artisan market, music, local foods, student art show, and a fun run/walk."


"The Arctic is changing. This is an indisputable fact. How the people and animals who depend upon the Arctic will adapt to change is an open question. How will narwhals and polar bears cope with less summer ice? Bowhead whales may have their world rocked when humpbacks, fins and other baleen whales begin - they already are - feeding in their backyard. The resource users of the Arctic will need to make adjustments and changes to live in this new world. Who will be the sea winners and sea losers? These are questions we will discuss with the experts who are passionate about the Arctic."

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." 


Maritime & Arctic Security Conference (MAS13), November 12-13, 2013 (St. John's, NL, Canada). "For decades the Arctic has received increasing attention from the international community related to factors/considerations such as environmental, geopolitical, strategic, and security. More recently with shrinking Arctic ice leading to the pursuance of off-shore resources and the

opening of northern shipping routes, over a relatively short period of time we are seeing maritime security considerations start to blend with arctic security." 


"With a focus on Economic Development, Security and Public Safety, MAS13 will bring together organizations that play a key role in the execution of Maritime & Arctic Security: whether that role be Cultural, Research, Government Policy/Regulation, Education, Surveillance, Enforcement, and Technology Development/Application." 


Full Conference Agenda


The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Village Safe Water announces a research and development effort to seek better and more affordable methods to deliver drinking water and sewage disposal services to communities in rural Alaska. The three-month long, international solicitation calls for individuals from a variety of diverse fields - engineering, science and research, behavioral science, and innovative design - to organize as teams and submit Statements of Qualifications. Up to six of the top ranked teams will be funded to develop proposals over a six month period next year. Future phases of the project include building prototypes and testing them in lab and field settings. 


For more information about the project please: 



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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