Arctic Update Header
August 28, 2013


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."


The 101st meeting of the US Arctic Research Commission, held in Dutch Harbor/Unalaska (viewed here atop Mt. Pyramid), concluded yesterday.


Free trade, Arctic, Russia may top Obama's Nordic agenda. "The first bilateral visit by a U.S. leader to Sweden may be overshadowed by the Syria crisis, but it is timely. Obama will meet other Nordic leaders there who are keen to show the importance of Europe's northern rim as new Arctic sea routes open and China and Russia explore for resources. The U.S. president, who will visit Stockholm on September 4-5 on his way to a G20 summit in St. Petersburg, has cancelled a trip to Moscow in retaliation for Russia's decision to grant asylum to fugitive U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden." Reuters 


Interior Interior Secretary Jewell to spend a night in ANWR.  

"New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is headed to Alaska to spend a night in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the holy shrine of environmentalists concerned about global warming and a top prize for Alaskans hoping to increase the state's dwindling oil production. The trip, Jewell's first to Alaska as secretary, will also include stops at other hotspots, including the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, according to an Interior press release. State officials and industry claim increasingly strict federal policies have slowed development in the giant reserve." Alaska Dispatch 



Cabinet members tackle controversies in Alaska. 

"Both Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell inherited thorny issues involving Alaska upon taking office this year. So they've both chosen to tackle these controversies head on during what happens to be the nicest time of the year to visit the nation's 49th state. McCarthy is headed Tuesday to Bristol Bay, the site of a proposed gold and copper mine which will generate significant revenue but could imperil one of the world's largest wild salmon fisheries. EPA is weighing whether to invoke its rarely-used authority under the Clean Water Act to block the Pebble Mine project." Washington Post 


Credit: OATRC 2013

Floe by floe, the ice surrenders its secrets. "Bowhead and minke whale sightings, extensive ice floe measurements and the successful retrieval of important moored instruments are among the successes of a multinational team of ice engineering researchers and marine biologists during their first week off the coast of northeastern Greenland on the Swedish icebreaker Oden... The two-week cruise has been designed to allow the scientists onboard to measure and quantify different aspects of sea ice, icebergs and their interaction with the ship. The group is now in an area where they deployed underwater moorings last year with the goal of collecting the instruments on the moorings and deploying new instruments." 


Arctic Methane: Flight Monday 19th AM/PM: Going home... "Methane is a key greenhouse gas; the Arctic is a key region for natural emissions of methane; high summer and autumn are key periods when emissions can peak and change rapidly. Understanding the relevant processes is a key to climate prediction. As will be explained in the next blog post, the MAMM project aims to unlock some of the mysteries... The last day of the August aircraft MAMM campaign (19 August) was all about sampling the methane closer to home as well as actually getting back to Cranfield; leaving the Arctic wetland methane behind us (until the September campaign of course). The day consisted of two flights, the first one was a straightforward transit flight from Kiruna, Sweden, to Aberdeen, Scotland; the second was a science flight off the East coast of England to sample methane leaking from gas rigs in the North Sea." Scientific American 


UN climate leaks may be 'misleading,' but new IPCC assertions seem bound to shock. "UN scientists in a month will release the first volume of their heavily anticipated fifth assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which could finally prove to be the tome that finally yanks the future of the climate out of political limbo. But the IPCC - conceived in 1988 as a neutral arbiter on global warming - is warning not to take the draft of its Fifth Assessment Report (or AR5) as anything conclusive prior to its final release next month." Bellona 


Three years after Nunavut cruise ship mishap, new Polar Code still in the works. "Three years after the cruise ship Clipper Adventurer hit a charted hazard near Kugluktuk and grounded Aug. 27, 2010 on that shoal, leading to an evacuation of the ship's passengers and crew, the International Maritime Organization continues to work towards the adoption of a mandatory set of rules to be called the Polar Code, for vessels operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters. This would come into effect in 2016 - four years after the original target delivery date - and replace voluntary regulations in place since 2002." Nunatsiaq Online 


Weatherwise: Have Arctic storms intensified as North Pole melts? "The Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012 lifted out of Siberia on Aug. 2, swirling in a counter-clockwise rotation up into the Arctic. As one of the most extreme Arctic cyclones ever recorded, its consumption of an already low sea ice extent raised many concerns. Now Arctic cyclones are garnering attention, but is all the hype warranted?" Alaska Dispatch 


Mining in the Arctic: Development comes at high price for industry, regulators. Mining companies are set to meet with government this week in Yellowknife, the capital of Canada's Northwest Territories (N.W.T.) Top of the agenda are concerns about regulatory delays and the expense of working in the North. "If a well cost $5 million to drill in Alberta, currently that well could cost $30- to $50-million in the N.W.T." says Henry Sykes, president of MGM Energy Corp. Alaska Dispatch 


Rise of the drones: Unmanned aircraft sneak into the Arctic. "Small drones may soon take to the skies above Earth's top with the aim of making survival there easier for both humans and wild animals. Such unmanned aircraft flown represent the first in a coming wave of Arctic drones that could watch out for oil spills, track ice floes and migrating whales, or help the U.S. Coast Guard in search and rescue operations. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently gave its first restricted approval for two commercial drone operations in the Arctic - a first step toward routine use of drones by companies aiming to monitor rich fisheries, expand oil-drilling operations and send more shipping across the increasingly ice-free summer waters of the Arctic Ocean. But several companies had already partnered with the University of Alaska Fairbanks to conduct experimental tests of drones in Alaska under FAA waivers or certificates of authorization." Live Science 


Canada set to participate with U.S., Russia in Arctic air exercise. "As part of the 'Operation Vigilant Eagle' military exercise, starting Aug. 27, fighter jets from the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Russian air force will scramble to track and intercept 'hijacked' commercial aircraft during an air defence exercise. The exercise is viewed as 'a steppingstone toward closer military-to-military cooperation in additional areas,' said the American Forces Press Service." Nunatsiaq Online 


Cold War bomber hub gets a makeover in Arctic bond debut. "Canada's northernmost territory, Nunavut, is borrowing in the bond market for the first time to revamp the capital's airport as the Arctic region seeks to strengthen ties with the outside world and spur development. The C$140.8 million ($134.1 million) bond through a public-private-partnership will help build an infrastructure link to resource markets since the capital, Iqaluit, lacks roads connecting it to northern communities. In addition to air service, the mostly indigenous Inuit residents depend on barges that float in goods at high tide from ships lying a mile or two out at sea." Bloomberg 


Opinion: How to get Canadians to care about the Arctic. "Prime Minister Stephen Harper must be commended for his annual trip to the Arctic. Never before has a Canadian prime minister devoted so much time and energy to celebrating the social marvels and economic potential of Canada's north. Because of his regular visits, today more Canadians are aware of the significance of the Arctic to national affairs than ever before. But awareness is not commitment, and if the Harper government seeks to create a lasting bond between the public and the north, it might consider investing more aggressively in efforts that will allow Canadians to experience the region for themselves." Toronto Star 


Credit: Reuben Wu

A visual tour of the research base at the end of the world. "It's not hard to make the arctic beautiful. But the observatories, abandoned factories, and shipwrecks scattered across its white expanse? That's tougher. For landscape photographer Reuben Wu, that was exactly the allure of the arctic archipelago of Svalbard." Gizmodo 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.

Future Events

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."


**New this Week**


Alaska World Affairs Council: "U.S. Leadership in an Emerging Arctic," 12 p.m. September 10, 

2013 (Anchorage, Alaska). The Alaska World Affairs Council will hold a Tuesday Lunch Program lecture featuring Chair of the US Arctic Research FranUlmerCommission Fran Ulmer and Ambassador David Balton, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State.


RSVP to or 276-8038 by Sunday, September 8th.  


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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