Arctic Update Header
August 20, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate have adjourned for the August recess.



HarperNew Arctic Park on Agenda for Harper's Northern Tour: Making 7th trip to the North as prime minister. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will announce the creation of a massive new national park in the Northwest Territories during his summer tour of the Canadian Arctic, CBC News has learned. Harper began the five-day tour Monday, his seventh such trip as prime minister. The park, called Naats'ihch'oh (pronounced nat-TSEEn-cho), is to be located on a huge piece of land just north and alongside of the existing Nahanni National Park Reserve. The area includes the headwaters of the world-famous Nahanni River. CBC News 


CANADIAN POLITICS: Budget Cuts, Delayed Development Hang Over Harper's Annual Arctic Trip. Each of the last six summers, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has journeyed to the North, sprinkling throughout its remote communities promises of federal funding and development. This year will be no different: Harper leaves today for a five-day trip that begins with a rally near Whitehorse and ends Friday in Churchill, Man. Harper appears to have the Midas touch about him on these annual visits. The projects and people he encounters, albeit rarely beyond the bounds of a carefully-choreographed photo-op, get money and encouragement. National Post 


Oil Drilling in AlaskaIndia Eyes Russia's Arctic Shelf Exploration. India's ONGC Videsh Ltd says it is keen to get a foothold in the Arctic with Rosneft after Moscow proposed to lift all export duties for new projects in the Arctic shelf. The overseas arm of India's state-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corp said it wanted to expand in Siberia and Russia's Far East, writes India's The Economic Times. In a letter to Rosneft on May 4 the company said it was interested in taking a stake in one of the three joint ventures on the Arctic shelf that Rosneft signed with US ExxonMobil, Italian ENI and Norway's Statoil.  RT 



TreadwellAlaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell on the U.S. as an Arctic Nation. Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell isn't what you'd expect of a man rising in the GOP's ranks. He's a conservationist who loves John McPhee and uses New Yorker cartoons about climate change in presentations about Arctic issues -- and not mockingly. He's also a staunch supporter of oil and gas development and a former pipeline company executive. In other words, he's hard to box in -- much like his mentor, Alaska Gov. Wally Hickel, who was President Nixon's Interior secretary. Hickel famously said, "You can't just let nature run wild," but strengthened offshore drilling standards after the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, and then doggedly enforced the new rules. Treadwell, former chairman of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, is one of the nation's leading experts in the global politics of the new Arctic. High Country News 


Arctic Sea Ice Heads For Record Low as Melt Beats Forecasts. The Arctic Ocean's ice cover is shrinking at a record pace this year after higher-than-average temperatures hastened the annual break-up of the sea ice. The area of ocean covered by ice shrank to 4.93 million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles) on average for the five days through Aug. 15, according to the latest data from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. With as many as five weeks of the annual melt season left, it's already the fourth-lowest annual minimum ever measured. Bloomberg 


SARLooming Cruise Ship Traffic in Arctic Raises Search-and-Rescue Concern. The Northwest Passage, the Arctic waterway claimed by Canada, has long been a lure for adventurers. Lately, climate change, which is producing a longer ice-free season, is making it even more attractive. That makes Michael Byers nervous. Byers is Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia and an expert on the Arctic. In a column this week in the Globe and Mail, Byers warns Canada's thinly stretched coast guard is not up to the challenge of a large-scale rescue effort in far northern waters. Yahoo! News Canada 


China to Open Int'l Institute for Arctic Studies. China will launch its first international Arctic cooperation and research institute in Shanghai, sources attending a Sino-Iceland workshop told reporters. The workshop on Arctic studies was held Friday as part of the first formal visit to an Arctic country by China's fifth Arctic expedition team, aboard the icebreaker Xuelong, or "Snow Dragon". The new Sino-Northern Europe cooperation and research institute for Arctic studies will cover issues like adaptation to climate change and sustainable development, cooperation between Northeast Asia and North Europe on Arctic economic development and cooperation strategies and policies. Global Times

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. 

Fifth Polar Law Symposium 2012, September 6-8, 2012. The theme for the symposium is quite open. It covers a wide variety of topics relating to the Arctic and the Antarctic. These include:

  • Human rights issues, such as autonomy and self-government vs. self-determination, the rights of indigenous peoples to land and natural resources and cultural rights and cultural heritage, indigenous traditional knowledge.
  • Local and national governance issues.
  • Environmental law, climate change, security and environment implications of climate change, protected areas and species.
  • Regulatory, governance and management agreements and arrangements for marine environments, marine mammals, fisheries conservation and other biological/mineral/oil resources.
  • Law of the sea, the retreating sea ice, continental shelf claims.
  • Territorial claims and border disputes on both land and at sea.
  • Peace and security, dispute settlement.
  • Jurisdictional and other issues re the exploration, exploitation and shipping of oil, gas and minerals, bioprospecting.
  • Trade law, potential shipping lines through the north-west and north-east passages, maritime law and transportation law.
  • The roles and actual involvement of international organizations in the Polar regions, such as the Arctic Council, the European Union, the International Whaling Commission, the

For more information, please see the Arctic Center


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)