Arctic Update Header
September 19, 2013

The Senate will continue to consider a bill that would develop energy-saving technology and building codes. The House of Representatives debates SNAP funding and National Forest development.



Ottawa was warned about Arctic patrol ships' high price. "Two days before signing a contract to begin work on a $3-billion shipbuilding project, the federal government was warned by its own advisers that the contract was overpriced - but signed it anyway. The warning was contained in a previously confidential independent review of the initial phase of the government's plan to spend $3.1 billion on a fleet of Arctic offshore patrol ships, known as AOPS." CBC 


Canada mulls laser threat from hostile Arctic ships. "Canada is preparing defenses against hostile laser deployment by nations it sees challenging its arctic sovereignty, most likely Russia. Allocations dating back to 2008 call for an outlay of at least $18 million. It's not clear how much has been spent so far and if there have been cost overruns." UPI 



Danish firm seeks to be first to bring bulk carrier through Northwest Passage. "Earlier this month, the ice-strengthened bulk carrier Nordic Orion was loaded with coal at a Vancouver terminal. From there, it headed to Finland via the Northwest Passage, undertaking a voyage that could make it the first commercial bulk carrier to traverse the route since the SS Manhattan broke through in 1969. The Northwest Passage sailing marks another milestone for Nordic Bulk Carriers, the Danish company that owns the ship and has staked its future on northern routes. But it is a bigger breakthrough for international trade and for the fabled waterway, which defied early explorers' efforts to map its bays and channels and led many to an icy grave. Now, with its ice cover changing and receding and a bulk carrier poised to plow through it, the Northwest Passage stands to witness history again while potentially becoming a viable route for commercial traffic." Globe and Mail 


Fish and Wildlife Service takes measures to protect walrus gathered on northwest Alaska shore. "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking steps to protect hundreds of walrus that have gathered on Alaska's northwest coast. Spokeswoman Andrea Medeiros said Wednesday that the agency has begun its protocol to prevent stampedes among the animals that gather in close quarters on remote Arctic beaches. The measures include limiting flights in the area and warning nearby villages to avoid walrus herds." Washington Post 


Russia: Greenpeace members held at Arctic oil rig. "Russian border guards detained two activists from the environmentalist group Greenpeace early Wednesday morning after they boarded an oil rig to protest drilling in the Arctic by a state gas company. Border guards fired a warning shot from an automatic rifle by the ship that ferried the protesters to the oil rig in the Pechora Sea in Russia's Arctic waters, the Federal Security Service said in a statement. The statement said that the warning shot was fired for the protesters' failure to 'cease illegal activity' and 'the real danger to the gas and oil complex.'" NY Times 


Cryophere Today, UIUC

The vital long view in tracking diminishing Arctic sea ice. "With the annual pullback of Arctic Ocean sea ice at an end, it's clear that this year's retreat is nowhere near the satellite-era record set in 2012, but it's also clear that there is still a long-term trajectory toward a largely open-water Arctic in summers in coming decades. The image above is from The Cryosphere Today, a valuable Website maintained by William Chapman and others at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The National Snow and Ice Data Center has not quite officially called the 'minimum,' but it is nigh." NY Times 


Related: Sorry, Arctic sea ice isn't really "recovering." Washington Post 


Helping to promote and preserve the Inuit language in Canada. "George Filotas, wants to help by getting others in the southern regions also interested in what is one of the official languages of the territory of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and also spoken in the northern region of Quebec known as Nunavik and the Inuit self-governing region of Nunatsiavut in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr Filotas will be teaching classes in Inuktitut as a second language in Montreal this autumn. Mr Filotas is the first to say that others are doing much more important work to preserve and promote the learning and use of Inuktitut, but courses for non-speakers of this major aboriginal language are rare." Eye on the Arctic 


2013's Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend check: $900. "The number on every Alaskan's mind was announced Wednesday morning by acting Revenue Commissioner Angela Rodell, in Anchorage. This year's Alaska Permanent Fund dividend (PFD) payout is $900. The dividend will be distributed to eligible Alaska residents beginning Oct. 3. Altogether, there were 670,865 Alaska PFD applicants this year, and about 640,436 should qualify, Rodell said. The oldest applicant was 108 years old, and the youngest was born at 11:59 p.m. on the qualification deadline of Dec. 31, 2012." Alaska Dispatch 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


White House Yesterday, President Obama signed into law the Denali National Park Improvement Act. This law authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to issue permits for microhydro electric projects in the Kantishna Hills area of the Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska; authorizes the exchange of Federal lands within the Park with land owned by Doyon Tourism, Inc.; authorizes the Secretary to issue permits to construct a natural gas pipeline in the Park; and designates the Talkeetna Ranger Station as the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station.

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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