Arctic Update Header
July 22, 2013

The Senate remains in recess until tomorrow, while the House works through a few unrelated bills under suspension of the rules (usually non-controversial). Both Houses will take up a few Arctic related items during committee work this week.

It's a boy...


Arctic shipping set to grow as sea ice melts. "Arctic shipping is set for a record year, as melting sea ice raises the prospect of an important new route for trade between Asia and Europe that shaves thousands of kilometres off the trip. By Friday, the administrators of the Northern Sea Route - which follows the north coast of Russia - had granted permission to 204 ships to sail this year. Last year, only 46 ships sailed the entire length from Europe to Asia, up from four vessels just two years earlier." Business Day


Chart: Major Icebreakers of the World. The United States Coast Guard published the latest iteration of its global icebreaker catalog, detailing ship classifications, fleet numbers, and availability. The USCG notes: "This chart is not intended for icebreaker fleet comparisons and no inference should be drawn regarding a country's icebreaker "ranking" against another."



 US lags behind in handling rapidly shrinking Arctic Sea ice. "The U. S. military and scientific agencies are not able to strengthen their efforts to tackle rapidly shrinking and thinning Arctic sea ice. A meeting was organized last week to address the issue. US Arctic officials at the Coast Guard, Navy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies participated in the meeting to cope with looming prospect of a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean. The meeting concluded that the U. S. is lagging behind other nations to handle rapidly changing Arctic environment. There is not a single Navy surface ship that can navigate the ice-covered waters." Top News


Alaska leaders call for Arctic action before it's too late. "In his keynote address to the Ice-Diminished Arctic Conference in Washington, D.C. last week, Treadwell Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell told those gathered to discuss the changing state of Arctic waters that early theories by bloggers were that talk about the Arctic was happening behind closed doors -- that secret plans were being laid out to dominate the region. 'But they overestimated our government,' Treadwell said. 'In reality, few people were paying any attention to the Arctic.'" Bristol Bay Times


Fed-bashing continues at Arctic-focused economic conference. "Alaska needs to follow in Canada's footsteps and wrestle land ownership and decision-making from the feds to promote development and protect the the Arctic, the lieutenant governor said at a cross-border conference on Thursday. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell's comments came at the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region's summit luncheon in Anchorage, a gathering where Canadian officials highlighted the economic benefits of an ongoing power shift from the feds in Canada to territorial governments working with aboriginal leaders." Alaska Dispatch


Photos: Orcas hunt gray whales off coast of Nome. "Residents of Nome in Western Alaska had a bit of excitement earlier this week as the drama of nature played out offshore in the waters of Norton Sound, with a pod of marine-

mammal-eating killer whales on the hunt for an adult gray whale and calf." Alaska Dispatch


Crush of humpback whales at Glacier Bay leads to Alaska regulation changes. "A crush of whales has caused Glacier Bay National Park to lower the cruise ship speed limit in parts of its waters. Only two of the big ships are allowed inside the bay at any one time, and now they must not exceed 10 knots (11.5 mph) in 'whale zones' - areas where large numbers of whales gather." Alaska Dispatch


Big Oil wants big refund over Alaska pipeline property taxes. "A new skirmish is brewing in the perennial conflict over the value of the infrastructure that carries Alaska's lifeblood from the North Slope oil patch to tankers in Valdez. Owners of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) -- including Alaska's 'Big Three' oil companies: BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp., recent recipients of a state tax cut worth at least several hundred million dollars per year -- are suing a variety of Alaska municipalities and boroughs in hopes of recouping millions in property taxes paid 'under protest' on the pipeline and other facilities in 2011." Alaska Dispatch


Rare Arctic wildlife scenes caught on camera. "A pilot project using remote camera technology is capturing spectacular and enlightening views of the unique wildlife in one of Canada's northernmost national parks. Ivvavik National Park, located at the northern tip of the Yukon, is home to a large and diverse population of Arctic wildlife, but with 10,000 square kilometres of park to cover, naturalists can't hope to effectively monitor the park and its fauna." CBC News


Native rights group sues state over elections. "Two elderly Yup'ik speakers and two tribal organizations from Southwest Alaska filed a federal lawsuit Friday against state election officials, accusing them of failing to provide language assistance at the polls as required by federal law. The lawsuit named Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, the state's top election official, as a defendant, along with his director of elections, Gail Fenumiai. Regional election officials in Fairbanks and Nome were also sued." Anchorage Daily News


House panel on EPA, Interior to kick off spending process with boycott 


threat. "The annual House battle over funding U.S. EPA and the Interior Department is set to start in earnest tomorrow with a subcommittee markup that top Democrat Jim Moran of Virginia has threatened to boycott. Moran said last week that he might skip the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations subpanel's markup of fiscal 2014 legislation if Chairman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) doesn't give minority members more of a say in how the bill's scant bottom line would be allocated. Moran, who hadn't seen the chairman's markup until Friday, called the process that led to it a 'sham.'" E&E News

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


"The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee - Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard will hold a hearing at 10:00 a.m. titled, 'New England and Mid-Atlantic Perspectives on Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorization.' The hearing will explore the progress made to date and the ongoing challenges faced in transitioning to sustainable fisheries management in New England and the Mid-Atlantic since the 2006 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). Testimony from managers, fishermen, academics, and other stakeholders is expected to explore the impacts the MSA amendments have had on U.S. fisheries in these regions, as well as recommend potential changes to the Act for Congress to consider." 

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing to consider S. 1273, the FAIR Act of 2013 (Murkowski) at 2:30 p.m. in Room 366 of the Dirksen Senate Office BuildingS.1273 would "establish a partnership between States that produce energy onshore and offshore for our country with the Federal Government."


Future Events


Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion on "The Benefits and 'Costs of Cold:' Arctic Economics in the 21st Century" featuring Alaskan 

Lieutenant Gov. Mead Treadwell, Wednesday July 31, 2013, 3 p.m. (CSIS, Washington, D.C.). 

Alaska's Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell will discuss the future of economic development in the American Arctic at this upcoming event.


"A new CSIS Europe Program report, which will be released on July 31, examines the economic benefits of Arctic development and the financial and environmental costs of Arctic infrastructure development. It determines that for now, the U.S. gives greater weight to the costs of Arctic development than to its benefits. Lieutenant Governor Treadwell will offer his reflections on this new report."


Please RSVP to Matthew Melino at

"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."

101st Meeting of the US Arctic Research Commission, August 26-27, 2013 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 agenda will be posted on the USARC website,, closer to the meeting date. 


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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