Arctic Update Header
August 15, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate have adjourned for the August recess.


Week of the Arctic, August 13-18, 2012. The Arctic is front and center in peoples' minds.  Increased maritime traffic and new opportunities for development have brought about more reasons to understand and work toward safe and secure operations both on land and off Alaska's coast. To help Alaskans understand these critical challenges and issues at stake in the Arctic, the Institute convened the first Week of the Arctic last year, drawing over 550 participants to five events in four days. The 2012 Week of the Arctic will take place August 13-18 in Anchorage, Alaska. Week of the Arctic events will include:

The Week of the Arctic's signature event is the annual Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award Dinner on Friday, August 17th. This year we'll be recognizing Red Dog Mine for their sustainable development in the North.



How Do They Do It? Predictions are in for Arctic sea ice low point. It's become a sport of sorts, predicting the low point of Arctic sea ice each year. Expert scientists with decades of experience do it but so do enthusiasts, whose guesses are gamely included in a monthly predictions roundup collected by Sea Ice Outlook, an effort supported by the U.S. government. Science Daily 


budgetEnergy Security vs. Environment in Alaska. While the Marcellus Shale in New York and Pennsylvania and the Bakken Shale in North Dakota are trigger points in the world of fossil-fuel extraction these days, Alaska has been the lodestar for oil and gas development in the United States for the last half-century. And as befits a state dominated more by wild lands than humankind, it has been home to some of the fiercest political battles pitting energy interests against environmental concerns. There is no difference this time around; the Obama administration and the Romney campaign have taken opposite sides on the issue of opening up a coastal portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. The Obama administration intends to keep it closed; Mitt Romney wants to open it. New York Times 


Healy, Coast GuardCoast Guard Cutter Healy to Begin First of Three Arctic Missions for 2012. U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, the nation's only operational polar ice breaker, left Dutch Harbor Aug. 9, to begin the first of three Arctic missions scheduled during 2012. Healy departed its homeport of Seattle July 30, for a deployment that will include three missions that support scientific research in the Arctic.  After a brief stop in Dutch Harbor for logistics and to welcome aboard the 38 members of the HLY-12-01 science party, the cutter continued its northbound transit through the Bering Strait to the Chukchi Sea. The first science mission the Healy crew is scheduled to conduct is a part of the Chukchi Sea Offshore Monitoring in Drilling Area (COMIDA) project, and will examine the Hanna Shoal region to determine the biological, chemical and physical properties that define the area as high biological and exploratory energy significance. Alaska Native News 


Arctic Connections: Finding Good Nutrition in Canada's Northern-most Communities. There are, for the most part, two ways to get goods into remote communities like Pangnirtung, Nunavut: by plane or by sea. Every summer, cargo ships (called the sealift) make the rounds to Canadian Arctic communities, visiting one to three times, weather and ice conditions permitting. They bring dry goods - from coffee and rice to roofing materials and snow machine parts. The window for the sealift deliveries is short and orders need to be placed well ahead. Perishables typically arrive by plane. What few fresh fruits and vegetables these communities receive are flown in along with people, mail and other cargo. Due to the nature of the landing strips and a lack of regional air traffic controls, planes can only get in or out when the weather allows for clear views of runways and surrounding hills. Vancouver Sun 


russian flagRussia Upgrading Northern Sea Route Safety Infrastructure. Construction of a chain of rescue centers on the shores of the Northern Sea Route has already started. Russia is upgrading infrastructure along the Northern Sea Route. Three large and seven smaller emergency centers will be built from Murmansk in the West to Chukotka in the East. According to a new Russian rescue concept, three main Arctic Fire and Rescue Centers will be set up in Siberia, the North-West and Far East Russia. The rest of the centers will be their subdivisions or branches, said Vladimir Puchkov, Russian Minister of Emergency Situations. Construction of the first centers has now started. One such center with 60 employees is being set up in Dudinka in the Krasnoyarsk Krai. The Siberian center will be equipped with helipads. In the Far East, the Arctic Centre will be established in Anadyr, and 76 specialists will work there, reported Sergey Petrovsky, Deputy Head of the Far Eastern Regional Center of the Russian Emergency Ministry. MarineLink  


Bowhead Whale Hunting BarrowCanadian Arctic Communities Celebrate Bowhead Hunt Success. People in the communities of Repulse Bay and Arctic Bay in Canada's eastern Arctic Nunavut territory are celebrating a successful bowhead harvest. Michael Akkuardjuk, the chair of the local hunters and trappers association in Repulse Bay, said the hunters caught and killed the whale Monday afternoon about 30 kilometres away from the community. Akkuardjuk boated out to meet them around 5 p.m. local time. "We got four boats of hunters and on each boat they had four people. And there was one more boat with the safety patrol." Alaska Dispatch 


Empowering Alaska as America's Arctic. Alaska, the United States, and the world are finally giving America's Arctic the attention it irrefutably deserves. This is due to Alaskans like the late Governor Walter Hickel; Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell; former North Slope Borough Mayor Edward Itta; U.S. Arctic Research Commission Chair Fran Ulmer; Nils Andreassen of the Institute of the North; Rep. Reggie Joule; Sen. Lesil McGuire; Dr. Lawson Brigham and Dr. Mark Myers of UAF; and many, many others including the unabashed Arctic champion and enthusiastic founder of the Arctic Imperative Summit, Alice Rogoff. The promise of offshore oil development, increased shipping, mineral export, LNG export and tourism makes the Arctic exceptionally important to our future in Alaska. But we must also remember that people live in the Arctic, and improving their quality of life and respecting their views is key. Alaska Dispatch


Snow DragonChinese Icebreaker Completes Arctic Passage. A Chinese icebreaker has completed its passage through the Arctic Northern Sea Route, marking the first such voyage by a Chinese vessel, according to a report in the Barents Observer. The Vitus Bering-class icebreaker Xuelong ("Snow Dragon") traveled through five marginal seas of the Arctic Ocean last week: the Chukchi, the East Siberian, the Laptev, the Kaka and the Barents. The voyage allowed scientists to conduct research in the Atlantic sector of the Arctic and also opened up a transportation ocean route linking Asia and Europe. While Xuelong is China's only icebreaker, Chinese officials recently commissioned the Finnish Aker Arctic company to design a polar research icebreaker, the report notes. Ottawa Citizen  


Cruise Sets Sail to Count Fish Off Alaska. A group of researchers has embarked on the first comprehensive study of marine life in the eastern Chukchi Sea near Alaska. Their findings will be used by the Department of the Interior to help decide whether to grant future leases for offshore oil exploration and drilling in the region, and to regulate transportation and future fishing. "We are going up there to look at the oceanography, plankton, fish and crab in the region," said Michael Sigler, a marine biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries service in Alaska. Live Science



Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal action was taken on Arctic legislation.

Future Events    



2nd Cargo Airships of Northern Operations Workshop, August 22-24, 2012. Researchers from NASA Ames Research Center will provide insights into the new technologies that form the solid engineering basis for modern cargo airship systems. Speakers from the mining, oil, and gas industries will describe their transportation challenges and how they plan to exploit cargo airships in support of their businesses. Local Alaskan air freight firms will discuss how cargo airships can complement existing air transport fleets by providing additional capability and expanding air shipping services. The world's leading developers of airships will provide design and operational details on new cargo airships they're currently developing and preparing to deploy for commercial service. Representatives from the financial community will present the many options available for what has often been the missing element of airship development and operations, funding. The website will soon be updated. 


The Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24-27, 2012. The summit will be hosted by Alaska Dispatch and will bring together leading voices in this conversation, including residents from the small villages that comprise Alaska's coastal communities, state, national and international leaders, the heads of shipping and industry, as well as international policymakers and the news media. The goal of the summit is to sharpen the focus on the policy and investment needs of Alaska's Arctic through a series of high level meetings, presentations, investor roundtables and original research.


10th Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, September 5-7, 2012. The 10th Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region will take place in Akureyri, Iceland 5-7 September 2012. The conference will be attended by members of parliament from the eight Arctic countries and the European Parliament, Arctic indigenous peoples and a variety of observers. The main items on the agenda are:

1.       Arctic Governance and the Arctic Council

2.       Economic opportunities in the Arctic

3.       Human Development in the Arctic: Interplay of Research, Authorities and Residents


The Conference will adopt a statement directed to the Arctic Council, the governments in the Arctic Region and the institutions of the European Union.


inuitconferencelogoArctic/Inuit/Connections: Learning from the Top of the World; October 24-28, 2012.  The 18th Inuit Studies Conference, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, will be held in Washington, DC. The conference will consider heritage museums and the North; globalization: an Arctic story; power, governance and politics in the North; the '"new" Arctic: social, cultural and climate change; and Inuit education, health, language, and literature.  


28th Wakefield Symposium: Responses of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change, March 26-29, 2013. This symposium seeks to advance our understanding of  responses of arctic marine ecosystems to climate change at all trophic levels, by documenting and forecasting changes in environmental processes and species responses to those changes. Presentations will focus on collaborative approaches to understanding and managing living marine resources in a changing Arctic, and to managing human responses to changing arctic marine ecosystems. Hosted by Alaska Sea Grant and sponsors.

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