Arctic Update Header
August 17, 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 Governor Walter J. Hickel Day of the Arctic Brunch on  Saturday, August 18.


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.



Groups Call for Study of Arctic Ocean Corals. Two environmental groups say cold-water corals discovered near a proposed Shell Oil drilling site in the Chukchi Sea deserve additional review, but the company contends they have been studied and are not threatened. Greenpeace USA and the Center for Biological Diversity in a letter Thursday called on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to block drilling until the department conducts a supplemental environmental review of potential damage to the corals. Shell hopes to drill at least one exploratory well this year during the summer open water season. Environmental groups have strongly opposed drilling, claiming too little is known about the Arctic ecosystem and that petroleum companies have not demonstrated they can clean up a spill in ice-choked waters. Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said by email that additional study of corals is not necessary. Fuel Fix


beluga Arctic Study Finds Mother Whales Pass Contaminants to Fetus. Pregnant beluga whales pass to their fetus a portion of the pollutants - PCBs and flame retardants - they carry in their bodies, report researchers who measured the chemicals in the animals' blubber. The study is one of the first to show whales, like people, can transfer and expose their developing offspring to the long-lived contaminants. A study of Arctic beluga whales confirms that mothers can pass more than a tenth of their chemical burden of PBDE flame retardants and PCBs to their unborn calves. Mammals transfer contaminants during pregnancy to the developing fetus and during lactation when the baby is nursing. Lactation transfer has been well studied in marine mammals, but very little is known about the transfer of pollutants during pregnancy. Environmental Health News


North Norway Port Booms as Arctic Ocean Base.  Geographic proximity to the oil and gas fields and development infrastructure draws companies to this north Norwegian town. One of the companies making a profit on the increased activity in the Arctic is Henriksen Shipping.  Since the Agreement on Delimitation of the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean came into force, Henriksen Shipping has had an enormous increase in the number of calls by vessels heading to Arctic waters for seismological surveys. This company has landed a large contract with WesternGeco, on of the world's leading geophysical services companies. WesternGeco is conducting seismic surveys for Russia in the Kara Sea and has chosen Kirkenes as service port for its vessels. MarineLink 


Murkowski Murkowski Hopeful on Passing Law of the Sea Treaty. Melting summer sea ice is opening up the Arctic Ocean to commercial opportunities but the United States could miss them if it doesn't sign the Law of the Sea treaty, according to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski. The Alaska Republican hopes the Senate will vote to sign the treaty during the lame duck session following the November election. The treaty sets up a system for resolving disputes in international waters. It has been around since the Reagan administration, and 162 countries have signed on. Juneau Empire



canadian flag In Canada, a Push for Aviation Safety for Small Planes. Canada's Transportation Safety Board is continuing to push for aviation safety across the country and throughout the Arctic. Two safety issues remain conspicuous because "we haven't seen a decrease in the numbers":

* Landing accidents including runway overruns

* Collisions with land and water.

"We're more or less communicating to the industry and the regulator, Transport Canada, that there is a concern there," said TSB spokesperson John Lee. Earlier this summer, Canada's opposition New Democratic Party criticized the Conservative government for being slow to push for new safety measures in the North. Transport Canada had just introduced mandatory Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems for smaller planes -- 16 years after the board first recommended such a system. Alaska Dispatch


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) Fly in the Aleutians.  Three videos detail the Unmanned Aircraft work from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF).  In March, Greg Walker, UAF's Unmanned Aircraft Program Manager, led research in the Aleutians. Walker flies the UAVs in just about all conditions except freezing rain, which would stick to delicate equipment. "We've regularly flown in showers, we've flown in snow and 25 knot winds," said Walker. View at

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.

USARC header

Find us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter 

4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 510
Arlington, VA 22203, USA 
(703) 525-0111 (phone)