Arctic Update Header
August 2, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will consider a trade agreement and cybersecurity legislation. The House will consider tax and drought aid legislation.



canadian flagCanadian Ports Wade Into Political Waters. Blame Canada. That's what a new Federal Maritime Commission report does, claiming America's northern neighbor snags business from west coast ports. Lawmakers have seized on its contents, which fit comfortably into the election year narrative of declining U.S. competitiveness and outdated infrastructure. Only the report - requested by Congress a year ago - almost never came out. And the loudest ones yelling appear to be the commissioners themselves. Two of the five officials voted to squelch the study, noting vague language, misinterpretations of public comments and questionable economic analysis. Rebecca Dye, one of the two Republicans who opposed it, called the report a "political policy paper developed to justify a predetermined conclusion. Politico 


Russia Ambitious About Arctic Shelf Development. "The Arctic shelf contains nearly the fourth part of the world's energy resources, yet not all opportunities are used to use the most of these resources", Mr. Medvedev said. He added that the federal budget alone cannot ensure substantial funding of the project, and cooperation with private investors is required. Voice of Russia 


shellShell Drill Ships en Route to Arctic Alaska. It's not a mass movement of ships, but after weeks of waiting, pieces of Shell's fleet have begun sailing north from Dutch Harbor to the Arctic Ocean in an effort to reopen the delicate region to exploratory oil drilling. The Aiviq anchor-handler has begun the long sea journey, bearing some of the massive anchors that will be set to hold the drilling rig Noble Discoverer in place as it drills a well in the Chukchi Sea, Shell spokespeople said Wednesday. And the ice-breaker Fennica, which will deploy a sound-recorder to establish an acoustic footprint of the anchors being set, also left Dutch Harbor on Tuesday or was about to leave. It will provide baseline data on noise levels that could prove useful as the company tries to minimize disturbance to bowhead and beluga whales and share information with the village subsistence hunters who depend on those animals, said Shell spokesman Curtis Smith. Alaska Dispatch


Sea Ice May Briefly Choke Off Marine Routes in Alaska's Arctic. A mean storm whipping over Western Alaska will cause further havoc when it moves north, choking off Arctic marine routes north of Barrow with sea ice, according to the National Weather Service. A photo posted to the National Weather Service's Alaska Facebook page said the storm should arrive in the area around Barrow, the northernmost city in the U.S., by Friday or Saturday. Forecasters expect it to push sea ice toward the shore and block access for mariners trying to move between the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Alaska Dispatch 


Canada's Mostly Northerly Post Welcomes New Commanding Officer. Albeit the cold crisp air of the Arctic, the members of the Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert warmly welcomed their new leader during the Change of Command ceremony on Aug. 1st in Canada's most northerly post. During the parade, which was presided by the Wing Logistics and Engineering Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel (LCol) Dany Breton, Major (Maj) Scott Hoffman succeeded Maj Todd Murphy as the Commanding Officer (CO) of CFS Alert. As per Alert's tradition, Maj Murphy handed his ball cap to Maj Hoffman to signify the passing of responsibility. Aviation Canada 


BowheadStudy: Chatty Arctic Bowhead Whales Sing Like the Birds. In a recent study conducted in the Arctic Ocean off of Greenland, University of Washington oceanographer Kate Stafford noted an unexpected feature of the Arctic's Bowhead whale: They sing a lot. So much so, researchers are likening the 200,000 pound mammals to their smaller air-bound brethren, the birds. According to the University of Washington, Stafford and her team were investigating a highly endangered population of the whales in the Arctic waters off of Greenland and Norway's Svalbard Archipelago. They placed two underwater microphones beneath the icy Fram Strait, and left them there until the batteries ran out, a whole year. Since the whale population is thought to number in the tens of individuals, they didn't expect much, but they ended up collecting a whale cacophony. Alaska Dispatch  


Geologists to Gather Data for Danish North Pole Claim. Does the North Pole belong to Greenland and by extension to Denmark, to which it is politically linked? That's the question Danish geologists heading for the Arctic this week will be trying to answer. They hope the seismic data they collect between now and mid-September will support the claim of Denmark and Greenland to 150,000 square kilometers of extra territory extending north from Greenland into the oil and gas-rich Arctic sea floor. Their claim rests on whether an underwater formation extending north of Greenland called the Lomonosov Ridge qualifies as an extension of Greenland's land mass. If it does, Greenland can bid to extend its undersea territory. New Scientist 

NOAANOAA, Partners: Earth's Oceans and Ecosystems Still Absorbing About Half the Greenhouse Gases Emitted by People.
Earth's oceans, forests and other ecosystems continue to soak up about half the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by human activities, even as those emissions have increased, according to a study by University of Colorado and NOAA scientists published today in the journal Nature. The scientists analyzed 50 years of global carbon dioxide (CO2) measurements and found that the processes by which the planet's oceans and ecosystems absorb the greenhouse gas are not yet at capacity. NOAA

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.R. 1171, Marine Debris Act Amendments of 2012 (Farr, passed/ agreed to in the House)


H.R. 6251, To amend the Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act to establish an expedited award process for grants to address marine debris emergencies, and for other purposes (Bonamici, introduced and referred to House committee)

Future Events    


healthmeetinglogo15th International Congress on Circumpolar Health, August 5-10, 2012. This event is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Society for Circumpolar Health, and the International Union for Circumpolar Health.  The forum will consider community participatory research and indigenous research; women's health, family health, and well-being; food security and nutrition; social determinants of health; environmental and occupational health; infectious and chronic diseases; climate change health impacts; health service delivery and infrastructure; and behavioral health.


Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Field Hearing on U.S. Coast Guard Operations in Alaska, August 6, 2012. The Senate Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee will hold a field hearing in Kodiak, Alaska.  The hearing will focus on the nation's need for a robust United States Coast Guard presence in Alaska as the nation begins to pursue expanding opportunities in northern waters.


98th meeting of the US Arctic Research Commission, August 9-10, 2012. Fairbanks, AK. For more information, go to USARC 98th Meeting Draft Agenda 


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.


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.


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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