Arctic Update Header
September 26, 2013

The Senate will continue debate on the Continuing Resolution passed by the House of Representatives last week. The House will discuss two minor bills under suspension of the rules.



Arctic helicopter crash details emerge. "Only one of the three men who died in the Arctic crash of a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter was wearing a full immersion suit, which was not completely zipped up, and only one victim had a life jacket on, CBC News chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge reported Wednesday. Sources close to the crash investigation have helped CBC News piece together some of what happened on the helicopter's fateful mission." CBC News 



Opinion: Increasing military presence in the Arctic "is a trend." "Rivalry over Arctic resources is heating up, which includes the five Arctic countries increasing their military activity in the region, Simeon Wezeman, Stockholm International Peace Research Centre told RT." RT 


Arctic quest: The Great Game points north. "Energy and trade have long dominated great power politics. The new 'hot' region for development is in fact one of the coldest: In the Arctic, power means all manner of energy as well as influence in key developing trade routes." RT 


Opinion: Canada is US key to the Arctic. "Despite having little polar territory of its own, the US will use its close ties to Canada to secure a bigger slice of the Arctic's vast natural resources, Michel Chossudovsky, director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, told RT. The battle for the oil and gas riches around the North Pole is heating up, with the eight Arctic Council nations - Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US - looking for a bigger piece of the pie. But even some countries with no territory in the region, such as China and India, have managed to achieve observer status in the Arctic Council." RT 


Interior gets ball rolling on new Arctic drilling auction. "The Interior Department is taking early steps toward deciding which Arctic waters off Alaska's northern coast to auction in 2016 for oil drilling. On Friday Interior will publish a notice seeking nominations for areas in the Chukchi Sea ahead of a planned Norway Oil Development 2016 lease sale. It's a bureaucratic move in the politically contentious battles over drilling in the Arctic waters, an area oil companies covet and many environmentalists want off-limits." The Hill 


Shell Oil's Arctic drilling operations in limbo. "Six months after federal officials chastised Shell Oil for its faulty offshore drilling operations in the Arctic, the company has yet to explain what safeguards it has put in place or when it plans to resume exploring for oil in the vulnerable region. Shell's 2012 return to offshore Arctic exploration after a generation away was marred by high-profile problems, including hefty fines for polluting the air and a drilling rig that ran aground. The company canceled its 2013 drilling season, and its 2014 operations are in question." LA Times 


Historic sea route opens through Canadian Arctic waters. "For the first time ever, a bulk carrier is using the North West Passage as a transit trade lane, when transporting coal from Vancouver in Canada to Finland. The historic transit is shorter than traditional shipping routes and will not only save time, fuel and CO2, but also increase the load of cargo with 25% compared to the Panama Canal. Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S, the Danish pioneer, is once again behind a new business adventure. The international shipping industry is these days witness to a historic event, when a vessel for the first time ever is sailing from Vancouver in Canada to Finland through Arctic waters. One of the world's few modern ice-class bulk carriers - MV NORDIC ORION - will carry a cargo of 73,500 tons of coal via the so called North West Passage through Arctic waters to Finland. A Danish pioneer in operating ice-classed bulk carriers Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S is behind the historic North West Journey." Maritime Executive 


Icelandic and Russian presidents to meet at Arctic forum. "Icelandic President ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is set to meet Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin later this week at the The Arctic - Territory of Dialogue forum, revealed Putin's aide Yury Ushakov. At the meeting, which will be the third International Arctic Forum,the two leaders intend to discuss key issues regarding cooperation 


between the countries, including business ties and trade, in addition to the two 

nations' approaches to improving contacts in the region." Ice News 


Putin puts all chips on Arctic oil development in Salekhard as courts begin jailing Greenpeace activists. "Russia's plans announced at the oil forum in Salekhard come during a week of major clashes between Gazprom, Russia's state gas monopoly and activists from Greenpeace, who were last week arrested for trying to scale Gazprom's controversial Prirazlomnoye platform in the Pechora sea from their vessel, the Arctic Sunrise. As of this writing five activists, including the Arctic Sunrise's captain, and a freelance photographer from the Greenpeace vessel have been remanded by a Murmansk court to pretrial detention as the court seeks to determine whether 28 other Russian and international defendants should be held in remand while investigators probe the piracy charges they could face." Bellona 


Cargo turnover via Russian Northern Sea route climbs 19% past 2012 levels. "Cargo turnover via the Northern Sea Route along Russia's Arctic coast has already exceeded 2012 levels by 19% at 1.5 million mt as of this month and is expected to grow to 4 million mt/year in 2015, according to a statement on the Kremlin's website Thursday. 'Last year, cargo shipments via the NSR rose 53% year on year to over 1.26 million. In 2013, this figure has already amounted to 1.5 million mt,' the statement quoted Russia's President Vladimir Putin as saying at a governmental meeting held in northern city of Salekhard late Wednesday. Navigation via the NSR usually starts in early July and closes in mid-November." Platts 


Smallest plankton grow fastest with rising CO2. "Could the future of the ocean depend on its smallest organisms? An experiment conducted as part of the European project EPOCA, coordinated by Jean-Pierre Gattuso of the Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche (CNRS/UPMC), has shown that pico- and nanoplankton benefit from increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the seawater, causing a disruption in the food chain. Two climate regulation processes are also affected: carbon export to the deep ocean and production of dimethyl sulfide, a gas that counteracts the greenhouse effect. The study was conducted in the Arctic by a team of researchers, mainly from GEOMAR, CNRS and UPMC, supported by the Institut Polaire Français. These results have been published in a special issue of Biogeosciences." 


How will Norway's election result impact future oil projects around Arctic archipelago. "Regardless of whether Labour or the Conservatives dominate, oil will still be one of Norway's top priorities in the Arctic. But questions remain as to how exactly development will proceed. This election cycle, one of the most important and contentious issues was whether to carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in the Lofoten and Vesterålen Islands, where the Ministry of Oil and Energy has estimated a 95-percent probability of finding at least 76 million standard cubic meters of oil equivalents (Misund & Olesun, 2013)." Eye on the Arctic 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.


Future Events


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."

Association of American Geographers Polar Geography Sessions, April 8-12, 2014. Tampa, Florida. Polar Geography Sessions are being planned in areas such as Sustainable Development in the Arctic, Urbanization and Transportation in the Arctic, etc. Contact Scott Stephenson ( for more information, and see attached flyer. 


Arctic Science Summit Week April 5-8, 2014 and Arctic Observing Summit, April 9-11, Helsinki, Finland. ASSW is a gathering for Arctic research organizations. Any organization engaged in supporting and facilitating arctic research is welcome to participate. The ASSW meeting in 2014 will be arranged during April 5-8 in Helsinki Kumpula Campus, in the facilities of FMI and Physics Department of the University of Helsinki. Second circular here


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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