Arctic Update Header
August 29, 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." 



What a difference a year makes in the Arctic. "The annual Arctic sea ice extent minimum that will likely occur next month will not be a record breaker like last year, as the main weather pattern this summer has been nearly opposite of the pattern during the summer of 2012. Persistent low pressure centered near the pole has kept temperatures over a large portion of the Arctic much cooler this summer compared to what they were during the summer of 2012, leading to less melting of the sea ice. This summer's pattern has also caused the ice to spread out in a greater fashion, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)." AccuWeather 


National Snow and Ice Data Center


Japan and the Arctic: Directions for the 21st century. "East Asia is one of the most complex geopolitical spaces in this century, and its web of intricate interdependencies and competition is going to find reflection in the international relations of the Arctic. Being a maritime country, Japan can influence the Arctic either directly, or indirectly through its strategic alignment with the United States. Hot on the heels of the articles investigating China's potential role and interests in the Arctic, this will investigate Japan's strategic posture in the region and explore Tokyo's possible Arctic policies and interests." The World Outline 


Asia eyes the Arctic. "In May this year, Japan, China, India, South Korea, Singapore and Italy were admitted as permanent observers to the Arctic Council-a forum bringing together the eight Arctic member states (United States, Canada, Norway, Denmark (via Greenland), Russia, Sweden, Finland and Iceland), indigenous Arctic populations, and other interested parties to discuss a range of issues posed in this unique region. Formed in 1996, the Council and its

Wikimedia Commons: The Yorck Project
work has been attracting growing worldwide attention in the wake of the record low levels of sea ice coverage documented in the summer months of 2007-a record which itself was broken last year." The Diplomat


Impact of Arctic meltdown on the microbial cycling of sulphur. "The Arctic is warming faster than any other region in the world. Among the changes already witnessed, the loss of seasonal sea ice is by far the most striking. This large-scale shift in sea-ice cover could affect oceanic emissions of dimethylsulphide - a climate-relevant trace gas generated by ice algae and phytoplankton. During the spring melt period, conditions at the margin of Arctic sea ice favour the growth of these organisms. As a result, high levels of dimethylsulphide can accumulate at the bottom of the ice, in leads, and in the water column at the ice edge during the spring melt season. Production of dimethylsulphide is not limited to the sea-ice edge, however. Significant concentrations have also been detected in the seasonal ice-free zone in spring and summer. Preliminary observations, together with model results, suggest that the production and emission of dimethylsulphide will increase in the Arctic as seasonal sea-ice cover recedes. If it escapes to the atmosphere, this newly generated dimethylsulphide could potentially cool the Arctic climate." Nature 


Alaska Pebble Mine: What's interesting about EPA Chief Gina McCarthy's August visit. "New Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy is visiting the proposed site for the giant Alaskan copper and gold Pebble mine on Tuesday, as key parties seek to win this fresh influential decision-maker to their side in a fierce ongoing debate. On one side, mine critics say that a profitable salmon fishing industry and nearby natural resources could be destroyed by

Wikimedia Commons: Dept. of Int.

mining waste and over-development. Against that argument mine developers claim that thousands of new jobs could be supported by this fresh economic engine." International Business Times 


EPA chief hears Pebble mine arguments in SW Alaska visit. "President Barack Obama's top environmental official was visibly moved as people in this fishing town told her the giant Pebble mine would kill wild salmon and destroy their culture. 'You remind why we're all here, what we work for every day and why I am probably the most blessed person in the world to be at EPA at this time,' said Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. 'I intend to make you proud in the position the president has given me,' she said to a standing ovation in the packed gymnasium at a Dillingham school on Tuesday." Anchorage Daily News 


Opinion: Frank Murkowski: On Alaska trip, EPA chief must consider agency's proper role, not Pebble emotions. "Alaska is about to host Gina McCarthy, our nation's new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This comes at a time when the EPA is focusing nationally on climate change -- meaning that we can anticipate that air quality will be the issue in Fairbanks. It is going to be difficult for her to envision the contrast between a clear late summer day in August and an ice fog day in January. She will just have to take our word that we are in the process of doing better, and once we get natural gas we will be able to close the 'gap.' Clearly, the highest profile item on her agenda will be the proposed Pebble Mine project which is located on state lands. The role of the EPA in the Pebble project, however, raises some important and disturbing procedural questions." Alaska Dispatch 


Coast Guard Seal Adm. Papp continues USCG Arctic outreach. "Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp has spent a week in Alaska, underscoring the importance of establishing and maintaining a range of Arctic partnerships. Despite snowfall in the North Slope of Alaska last week and cooler than average temperatures all summer, Arctic sea ice extent tracked well below average again this year. This ongoing transformation of the Arctic Ocean from a solid expanse of inaccessible ice fields into an emerging maritime frontier is attracting increased human activity in U.S. Arctic waters which demands an effective, capable U.S. Coast Guard presence." Marine Link 


Opinion: Logistics and environment make Arctic a long-term play. "The prospect of an ice-free Arctic may provoke big talk about a rush for polar riches. But oil companies are in no hurry to drill wells in Canada's Beaufort Sea. It could take 20 to 30 years to move from seismic work through exploration and delineation drilling to commercial production on the frigid frontier, said Kevin Williams, operations manager with the exploration unit of Chevron Canada Resources, which is assessing two prospects in the northern region." Star Phoenix 

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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