Arctic Update Header
June 17, 2013


Both the House and the Senate will resume session today. The House will discuss Natural Resources legislation while the Senate will continue to discuss immigration reform.


"How low can you go?" Predicting this year's Arctic sea ice minimum. Estimates of the amount of sea ice that will cover the Arctic Ocean in September (when the melting peaks) have been provided by 23 contributors in the ARCUS "Sea Ice Outlook." The median value of these June outlooks, based on three different approaches - climate models, observational statistics, and heuristic methods (i.e., educated guess) - comes to 4.1 million square kilometers, which is lower than all previous estimates.  For comparison, the average coverage between the years 1979 and 2007 was about 6.5 million square kilometers. ARCUS September Sea Ice Outlook


Exxon to fund Arctic research in Russia. "Exxon Mobil Corp. will invest $200 million in a research center in Russia that will support its Arctic exploration there, the company said late Tuesday. The Irving-based oil giant said it would invest in a joint Arctic Research and Design Center for Continental Shelf Development that it would establish with Rosneft, its partner for exploration of more than 180 million acres in the country's Arctic region." FuelFix 


samiLanguage rights under scrutiny in Finland; Position of indigenous Sámi language is fragile: Cabinet report. "A new cabinet report filed with Parliament notes that the rights enjoyed by different language groups in Finland are far from being on an equal footing. There is lots of room to improve services in Swedish - to say nothing of services for Russian or Sámi speakers." Eye on the Arctic


Verizon turns on 4G LTE network in Alaska, its 50th state. "Another telecommunications provider has entered the Alaska market. Verizon officially turned on its signal in Anchorage, Fairbanks, North Pole, Juneau and much of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough on June 7." Anchorage Daily News


Is Alaska getting its fair share from mining? "As debate rages over the environmental consequences of the proposed Pebble gold and copper mine in Southwest Alaska, some are wondering what financial gain the state might get from allowing the project to move ahead." Alaska Dispatch


Companies await permits for Alaska Arctic seismic exploration. "As Arctic ice quickly succumbs to summer sun, several major energy companies are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to make good use of open ocean for exploration. Shell Oil, Norwegian geoscience company TGS, and SAExploration have all submitted requests to the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management to conduct seismic exploration projects this summer." The Arctic Sounder


Data from end of the last ice age illuminate the precarious nature of global ocean chemistry. "...Global warming is increasing ocean temperatures and harming marine food webs. Nitrogen run-off from fertilizers is causing coastal dead zones. A McGill-led international research team has now completed the first global study of changes that occurred in a crucial component of ocean chemistry, the nitrogen cycle, at the end of the last ice age. The results of their study confirm that oceans are good at balancing the nitrogen cycle on a global scale. But the data also shows that it is a slow process that may take many centuries, or even millennia, raising worries about the effects of the scale and speed of current changes in the ocean."


Russian indigenous activist arrested, then released after indigenous conference in Norway. "A former vice-president of the Russian Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the North, Dmitri Berezhkov, was arrested June 13 after returning from the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples that took place in Alta, Norway this past week. Berezhkov was released June 15, after a court in Tromsř, Norway found no evidence that he had committed any crime." Nunatsiaq Online


Greenland fishery plans cause alarm. "Every winter, salmon from all over the north Atlantic, including Canada, converge on Greenland to feed in the territory's waters. For the last decade, Greenland has forgone commercial fishing of these salmon, in the interest of conservation. But a recent announcement by the territory that it plans to open a commercial fishery has caused alarm in some North Atlantic countries where certain salmon populations are in critical decline." Alaska Dispatch


Spilled oil covers tundra rivers. "Environmentalists say that a state of emergency must be declared after at least 500 tons of oil spilled into local rivers from an oil facility in the Komi Republic. The spill, apparently one of the biggest in several years, is now threatening to seriously disrupt major parts of the vulnerable waterways in the Komi and Nenets tundra and ruin life conditions for local inhabitants. According to Greenpeace, at least 500 tons of oil is now spreading from the Kolva River into the adjacent rivers of Pechora and Usa." Barents Observer


As anticipation builds for White House announcement, enviros prepare lawsuit and everyone questions timing. "President Obama and a senior aide have created a drum roll in recent weeks for a package of climate change-related policies to be introduced very soon. But whatever he announces will inevitably be linked to his eventual decision on the Keystone XL pipeline in the minds of many environmentalists, industry leaders and policymakers. At the same time, environmental groups are preparing to go to court to force the Obama administration to complete its emissions rules for new power plants. Details of what Obama might propose to address climate change are still sketchy, even as the president and his administration build anticipation." EE News


The Faroe Islands has signed a new agreement to protect Arctic fishing and marine life and to prevent oil pollution. "The Faroese Prime Minister Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen was a co-signatory to the deal with the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Villy Sřvndal, Prime Minister Johannesen, who both drew attention to the importance for the Faroe Islands of having a direct and active role in all aspects of cooperation and negotiations in the Arctic Council." Fish Update

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation Friday.  

Future Events


NOAA Arctic Science Days, June 19-20, 2013, 1-5 p.m. (Silver Spring, MD).The NOAA Arctic Task Force will be hosting Arctic Science days to discuss the range of activities NOAA is conducting in the Arctic NOAAregion. These two afternoon sessions will be framed around the six goals laid out in NOAA's Arctic Vision and Strategy. On Wednesday, NOAA will cover sea ice and weather prediction, as well as basic scientific research and partnerships. Thursday will focus on stewardship, navigation, and emergency response.

Location: Silver Spring Metro Center, Building 3, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD, 20910, Room 12836.

Agenda is here
If you are a NOAA employee in Silver Spring planning on attending in person, please RVSP to  
Please register for Arctic Science Days, Day 1 at: 
Please register for NOAA Arctic Science Days, Day 2 at:


AGU Science Policy Conference, June 24-26, 2013 (Washington, DC).   AGU logo

"Hundreds of Earth and space scientists, students,

policymakers, and industry professionals will discuss key Earth and space science topics that address challenges to our economy, national security, environment, and public safety. This meeting will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions related to energy, natural hazards, technology and infrastructure, climate, oceans, and the Arctic. See the 6/25 forum titled 'US Government Investment in Arctic Change Research.' The event is hosted by American Geophysical Union (AGU), a Washington, D.C.-based international nonprofit scientific association." The USARC is a co-sponsor of the Arctic forum, through ARCUS.


3rd Cargo Airships for Northern Operations Workshop, July 10-12, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska). "The 3rd Airship Workshop will follow up the achievements of last year's workshop by focusing on potential approaches and actions that would facilitate establishing strong cargo airship business commitments to serving customers in Alaska and other Northern areas. Workshops will consider specific actions that may be initiated."

The U.S. National/Naval Ice Center (NIC) and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) are co-hosting this symposium to address the changing state of Arctic sea ice  and associated environmental conditions vis-a-vis emerging or expected naval, maritime, and associated activities and operations in the region.


New info: Meeting is open to all. Registration is $175. DOD participants can register and pay for this without special approval. The meeting is co-sponsored by the DOD, and in your internal request document, we've been advised that you should indicate that this activity is a "Review of Arctic Change Impacts." For Navy personnel, this means that approval by the DoN/AA is NOT needed.


Among the many confirmed speakers are:

Alaskan senators (Lisa Murkowski
and Mark Begich)
Murkowski Begich
USCG Commandant ADM Robert Papp & Navy Oceanographer RADM Jon White
Papp White 
NOAA's Acting Director, Kathy Sullivan, AK LT. Gov., Mead Treadwell, USARC Chair, Fran Ulmer, and Canada's Minister for Political Affairs, Sheila Riordon
SullivanTreadwell FranUlmerRiordon


Alaska State Society Brunch and Qugruk Forum with Fran Ulmer, Saturday July 20, 2013, 11 a.m. (Mr. Henry's, Washington, D.C.).  "This month's guest will be Fran Ulmer, the Presidentially-appointed Chair of the United States Arctic Research Commission. As Alaskans know, Fran Ulmer has also been, at various times, the chancellor of UAA; the Lt. Governor of Alaska; an Alaska state legislator; and the mayor of Juneau. We'll brunch for 30 minutes, then give the floor to our speaker. Under the banner, 'What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic,' Commissioner Ulmer will address Arctic shipping, research, climate change, and oil-spill prevention and response--all followed by questions and answers from the audience."

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. 



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 workship 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."


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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