Arctic Update Header
August 7, 2013
The House of Representatives and the Senate are on recess. They will reconvene in early September.


2012 was one of the 10 warmest years on record globally. "Worldwide, 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record according to the 2012 State of the Climate report released online today by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The peer-reviewed report, with scientists from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., serving as lead editors, was compiled by 384 scientists from 52 countries. It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on land, sea, ice, and sky." NOAA 


Full 2012 State of the Climate report 


State of the Climate in 2012: Highlights 


Arctic Ocean more vulnerable to human-induced changes than Antarctic Ocean. "A team including Dalhousie Oceanography Professor Helmuth Thomas and recent Dalhousie Oceanography PhD graduate Elizabeth Shadwick found evidence suggesting that the Arctic Ocean is more vulnerable to human-induced changes than the Antarctic Ocean. After comparing sites in both oceans, they found the Arctic site to be more acidic, warmer during the summer months, and have fewer nutrients; those disparities account for the differences in vulnerability. The results were published in Nature Scientific Reports." 


Scientists use glacier for glimpse into 1,000 years of climate change (audio). "Five years of planning went into a drilling project in the heart of the Alaska Range. The scientists involved weren't drilling for oil, however. They are part of a team studying glacier ice to better understand how the climate has changed over the last thousand years." Alaska Public Media 


Prirazlomnoye ready to drill in October. "Russia's first Arctic offshore platform 'Prirazlomnaya' is now finally ready to start working. Drilling will start in October and the first well should be ready by the end of the year, Neftegaz reports. The Prirazlomnoye field, which has about 72 million tons of oil resources, is located at 20 m depths about 60 km north of Varandey, the port terminal in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug." Barents Observer 


The Arctic Ocean: Fracking's future home. "Energy extraction techniques have become exponentially more efficient and effective since our first attempts to harness the elements in our favor. Unfortunately, our advances in pulling energy from the earth are still being outpaced by consumption demands. With a rising number of emerging markets seeing economies expand rapidly, energy consumption is at an all time-high with no signs of slowing. On the search for the next great energy source to meet this demand, scientists in the Arctic Circle think they have found a strong candidate." NASDAQ 


Northern Sea Route comes to life. "Meeting with President Vladimir Putin this week, Sovcomflot leader Sergey Frank confirmed that his company is rapidly extending shipping along the Arctic sea route connecting Europe and Asia. According to the company leader, year-round shipping along the western part of 

the route, to the Yamal Peninsula, is already operational, while transshipments along the whole route can be made for up to six months of the year. 'The Northern Sea Route is coming to life as we speak,' Mr. Frank told Putin." Barents Observer 


The rocky railroad to the Arctic. "Every Nordic nation seems to have an idea of its own of how to project a railroad to the Arctic Ocean. In fact, the way in which a nation wants to smooth its way to the ocean gives fruitful ground for a cross-national comparison." Barents Observer   


 aurora borealis

Geek Week...10 Reasons to Love Science with Neil deGrasse Tyson (number 7 is the aurora borealis (Northern Lights)). Youtube video here





Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation on Tuesday. 

Future Events

"2013  Environmental Intelligence in Maritime: Preparedness for Arctic Drilling," August 8, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska). "While Alaska remains the land of opportunity for oil and gas reserves, the challenges to access its vast reserves persist. Join NAMEPA to discuss what industry, regulators and environmental groups are doing to realize the potential of the region."
Invited speakers include Representative Don Young and Chair of the US Arctic Research Commission Fran Ulmer.

"Presentations, roundtable discussions and workshops are held as part of the Week of the Arctic, varied in form to reach different audiences and achieve multiple goals. The Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award dinner is the signature event for the Week of the Arctic. In recent years, the Award has been given to Red Dog Mine (2012) and Jacob Adams (2011). The award was created in 2000 to recognize individuals and organizations that make outstanding contributions toward sustainable development in the Arctic. Join us as we present CH2M Hill this year's Award. The Week of the Arctic culminates on Sunday, August 18 with a champagne toast in celebration of the Governor Walter J. Hickel Day of the Arctic."
**New this Week**
Arctic Drilling Safety Preparedness and Response: Mitigating Risks in a Tempestuous Environment to Achieve the Rewards of Safely Expanded E&P, August 15-16, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska). "The harsh and unpredictable climate of the Arctic territories has done little to deter the interest in oil and gas exploration. Particularly since it has been reported, "the U.S. Geological Survey estimates 26.6 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 130 trillion cubic feet of natural gas exist below Arctic waters." While the risks are considerable, so is the reward. As a result, there has been a great surge in development plans and permit requests. However, in order to responsibly drill and extract these resources, oil and gas companies must have thorough safety plans in place, while fostering an environmentally conscious approach to operations. This premier marcus evans conference will carefully examine how to assess risks, develop thorough safety plans and culture, quell environmental opposition through accountable actions, prepare a successful response plan and overcome lack of logistical support."
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(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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