Arctic Update Header
September 16, 2013

The Senate will continue to consider a bill that would develop energy-saving technology and building codes. The House of Representatives will return to business tomorrow.



Scientists fear ocean acidification will drive the collapse of Alaska's iconic crab fishery. "For decades, the crab piled up in fishing boats like gold coins hauled from a rich and fertile sea. But the very ocean that nursed these creatures may prove to be this industry's undoing. New research earlier this year shows that Bristol Bay red king crab - the supersized monster that has come to symbolize the fortunes of Alaska's crab fleet - could fall victim to the changing chemistry of the oceans. Barring a hasty reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions - or evidence that the creatures could acclimate to changing sea conditions - a team of scientists fears Alaska's $100 million red king crab fishery could crash in decades to come." Seattle Times 

Conservative victory in Norway: What does it mean for the Arctic? "In Norway's elections on Monday, the Conservative party (Høyre) won the most seats, sweeping Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg from power after eight years. The Conservatives, however, did not win enough seats to form a majority government. As such, headed by new Prime Minister Erna Solberg, they will likely ally with the populist, anti-immigrant Progress Party, which won 29 seats. The Conservatives will probably also have to work with the two small, centrist parties, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals. VG has an excellent suite of infographics illustrating the election results for the visually inclined. What does the election mean forNorway's Arctic? In this post, I look at the implications of the Conservatives' rise to power on Norway's foreign and domestic affairs in the northern sphere." Eye on the Arctic 


Russia preparing patrols of Arctic shipping lanes. "Russia on Saturday announced an initiative to address climate change. But it had nothing to do with smokestacks. Russia's military said it planned to sail regular naval patrols along shipping lanes in its territory in the Arctic Ocean that opened to commercial vessels only in the last few years, as Arctic ice began melting at a record pace." New York Times 


Russian military resumes permanent Arctic presence. "The Russian Navy's long-distance cruise in the Subarctic along the Northern Sea Route has become a flagship mission in the region abandoned by the military after the fall of the USSR. Now the once deactivated infrastructure will resume operation. On Saturday, Russia's Defense Ministry officially announced return of Russia's military to the Subarctic region. The statement was made to mark the arrival of a task group of 10 warships and support vessels to the western coast of Kotelny Island in the Novosibirsk (New Siberian Islands) Archipelago." RT News 


Alaskan mine, subject of Capitol Hill battles, loses a partner. "One of the companies seeking to build a huge copper mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay region has abandoned the controversial project that's been at the center of Washington, D.C. political and lobbying battles. Mining giant Anglo American said Monday that it's withdrawing from the partnership behind the Pebble Mine, leaving Northern Dynasty Minerals as the sole owner of the Pebble Limited Partnership formed six years ago." The Hill 


Norway's oil firms lobby for Arctic area and tax repeal. "Oil firms in Norway, Western Europe's biggest oil and gas producer, asked the incoming ruling parties on Monday to repeal a recent tax hike and open the sensitive Arctic Lofoten archipelago to exploration. Drilling around the Lofoten islands is becoming one of the top issues in coalition talks among the four election-winning parties and a new government is expected to uphold a drilling ban, forcing oil companies into more remote and difficult waters. Although the top two parties which will make up the government favour opening the area, which could hold around 1.27 billion barrels of oil equivalents, the smaller parties fiercely oppose such a move, fearing the oil industry would endanger its pristine environment, tourism and the world's largest cod stocks." Reuters 


Parnell announces AGDC board appointments. "The board of directors for the group charged with advancing an in-state natural gas pipeline has been announced. Gov. Sean Parnell announced the appointments Friday. They include Drue Pearce, John Burns, Albert Bolea, Dave Cruz and Richard Rabinow. State Labor Commissioner Dianne Blumer and Commerce Commissioner Susan Bell will also serve on the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.'s board." Anchorage Daily News 


Compass: ExxonMobil makes progress at Point Thomson. "Rising from the North Slope landscape today is more than 20 miles of new pipeline infrastructure that in 2016 will be ready to transport previously untapped resources from the region. We're in the beginning stages of an exciting new chapter for Alaska; one that will provide Alaskans with critical resources, new jobs and a bright future for generations to come. The new pipeline infrastructure has been built to support ExxonMobil's operations at our Point Thomson natural gas condensate project in the previously untapped eastern half of the North Slope. Along with major partners BP and ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil is proud of its role in the development of Point Thomson, and the new infrastructure we're building is only part of the story." Anchorage Daily News 


Arctic Ocean acidifying far faster than projected as ice melts. "Acidification of ocean water is just one of the problems associated with climate change. Now, scientists have discovered that the Arctic Ocean is acidifying far faster than projected as sea ice rapidly melts. The findings could have important consequences for the health of the Arctic ecosystem. Ocean acidification occurs when the pH levels of seawater decrease due to greater amounts of carbon dioxide being absorbed by ocean waters. The more-acidic waters can impact creatures that rely on calcium carbonate shells, such as corals and shrimp. This, in turn, can affect animals that are further up the food chain." Science World Report 


Senate hearing tackles Arctic climate change. "A hearing on the effects of Arctic climate change Friday shed light on the plight of dozens of villages across Northwest Alaska. Senator Mark Begich met with tribal council representatives, scientists and federal officials in Downtown Anchorage, and took testimony about the effects of erosion, rising sea levels and extreme weather patterns. The information is both scientific and anecdotal." KTVA 


Largest air exercise since the 90s. "This and next week's air force exercise is part of the new increased military cooperation between Finland, Sweden and Norway with the goal to enhance Nordic cooperation under NORDEFCO. The Nordic group of aircrafts consists of 10 F-18 Hornet fighters from Rovaniemi air base in Finnish Lapland, 10 F-16 fighters from Bodø and Ørland airbases in Norway and 22 JAS 39 Gripens from Kallax airbase outside Luleå in Sweden. Nearly 30 F-15 fighters and one to two air refueling tankers from US Air Forces in Europe participates. The same does six Eurofighter Typhoons from the British Air Force. The United States and Great Britain will act in roles of training partners." Barents Observer


Wrecked Russian diesel tanker ship should be wake-up call for Arctic nations. "Google Nordvik, and you'll get a lot of hits, but very few of them talk about the 435-foot Russian-flagged ship that was traveling around the tip of Siberia last week carrying goodness-only-knows how much diesel. On Sept. 5, the tanker hit some ice, which tore a 40-inch-by-4-inch-hole in its port-side ballast tank. The crew installed a cement box over the hole to stop the water flow, and the ship is now waiting for another ship to arrive to transfer its load. So far, no reports have been made of any oil spilled. Only one news source -- the Barents Observer out of Norway -- and a couple of Russian official pages mention the incident, which occurred almost a week ago. But it speaks volumes on several different levels." Alaska Dispatch 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation Friday.

Future Events


**New This Week**

Pacific Rim Institute Panel Discussion: Environmental Permitting Process Risks and Efficiency, October 4, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska). "Hosted by Pacific Rim Institute, the discussion brings together Alaska's regulating, regulated, science and NGO communities to identify realistic and achievable actions that could help sustain and enhance investment into responsible resource development projects while maintaining full compliance with environmental laws. The group will be asked to comment on the record of effectiveness, what is working well and what could be improved, to identify priorities and action items. Consistent with PRI's mission, the meeting aims to promote trust and to reduce uncertainly around regulatory risks by encouraging predictable, efficient, rigorous permitting process, while highlighting consequences of, what some may call, arbitrary or untimely decisions." 


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."

International Forum on Polar Data Activities in Global Data Systems, October 15-16, 2013 (Tokyo, Japan). "The Forum will cover topics on effective polar data management, including submission of metadata and data, sharing of data to facilitate new interdisciplinary science, and long-term preservation and stewardship of data from a global viewpoint. Presentations on the successes and challenges encountered during IPY will highlight not only the best practices learned but also what must yet be done to ensure the data legacy of IPY. 

Presenters from all scientific disciplines are welcome, and interdisciplinary data management topics are 
especially encouraged. A significant outcome of the Forum will be the development of a new strategy and structure for the Arctic Data Coordination Network under the auspices of the Sustaining Arctic Observing Network (SAON), IASC, and the Arctic Council. Fruitful discussions between the polar data community (SC-ADM, NADC, and SAON) and WDS-oriented contributors on data management issues are expected to give new horizons on data management and to forge interdisciplinary relationships. In particular, a new plan for polar data archives, such as PIC cloud, is expected to be sufficiently promoted."


Draft Agenda 


Registration closes September 30.


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 

Alaska Water and Sewer Challenge Request for Proposals Released August 15.  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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