Arctic Update Header
July 27, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are not in session. Next week, Congress enters the final legislative stretch before the August recess. The Senate is expected to consider cyber security. The House is expected to consider expiring tax cuts.



russian flag Russian Court Orders BP to Pay $3.1 Billion. An arbitration court in Siberia has ruled that British oil giant BP should pay $3.1 billion in compensation to its Russian joint venture TNK-BP over a failed attempt to form an alliance with rival Russian state-controlled oil company Rosneft. BP's spokesman in Russia, Vladimir Buyanov told The Associated Press that it considers Friday's ruling of the Tyumen Region Arbitration Court unfair and will appeal it. The verdict came in response to a lawsuit launched last year by Andrei Prokhorov, an obscure minority shareholder of TNK-BP. The multibillion-dollar Arctic deal between BP and Rosneft collapsed last year after Russian TNK-BP shareholders contested it. CBS News 


Ozone Layer Threatened by Storms. Strong summer storms that pump water high into the upper atmosphere pose a threat to the protective ozone layer over the United States, researchers said Thursday, adding that the risk of damage may increase as the climate warms. Much of the concern about the ozone layer has focused on Antarctica, where a seasonal hole, or thinning, has been seen for two decades, and the Arctic, where a hole was observed last year. But those regions have almost no population. Worcester Telegram  


polar bear iceMelting Arctic Sea Ice: How much is down to us? Sea ice coverage at the North Pole has shrunk dramatically over the past 40 years. The ice is now more than a third smaller each September following the summer melt than it was in the 1970s. This affects wildlife, while potentially opening up new northern sea routes and controversial opportunities for oil and gas exploration. Scientists at the University of Reading and the Japan Agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) have found that some of the reduction in ice since 1979 - between 5% and 30% - may be linked to the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO), a cycle of warming and cooling in the North Atlantic, which repeats every 65-80 years and has been in a warming phase since the mid 1970s. PhysOrg 


Prince William Sound's Sycamore Raises Anchor for the Arctic. The U.S. Coast Guards' 225 feet long buoy tender, Sycamore, left its Cordova berth on Tuesday July 17 for second time this season, this time headed to the Arctic Ocean, where giant oil company Royal Dutch Shell is waiting for its equipment to start drilling exploratory wells this summer. The mission is just one of many as the Arctic Ocean opens to increased human activity. For its part, the USCG is looking to expand its presence through a recently launched operation: Arctic Shield 2012. It is considered the Coast Guard's biggest mission ever led in the Arctic and will involve Cordova's buoy tender Sycamore, a National Security Cutter, Medium Endurance Cutters, as well as helicopters and airplanes. Arctic Shield combines oil spill response training, delivery of supplies to remote villages and emergency preparedness training. Along with access to new oil resources, the Arctic is expected to open to new commercial fisheries, and the USCG expects to be called to serve much as it does in Prince William Sound today. The Cordova Times 


canadian flagCanada, Of All Places, Should Understand Climate Change. Ontario and Quebec have been baking for months. The fields have turned beige, starved for water. In Vancouver, by contrast, it's been wet most of the year. Britain, with the Olympics opening today, has experienced the wettest year since record keeping began, which in Britain means a long time ago. In Russia, too, widespread flooding in the south has caused massive disruptions. The Globe and Mail 


Coast Guard SealAs the Arctic Opens for Oil, the Coast Guard Scrambles. Royal Dutch Shell has spent $4.5 billion since 2005 preparing to explore for oil off Alaska's north coast in the Arctic. Shell, which may begin drilling next month, is one of at least six companies planning to extract oil, gas, and minerals from the Arctic as global warming melts ice and opens new sea lanes to commerce. The Arctic region holds about a fourth of the world's undiscovered oil and natural gas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. About 84 percent of this treasure trove lies beneath the ocean floor. The U.S. has more than 1,000 miles of Arctic shoreline, and much of the country's Arctic oil is there. As the oil companies move into the Arctic, so must the U.S. Coast Guard, to project the country's presence in a vital part of the world, perform sea rescues, and coordinate the government's response to any oil spills. To date, the Coast Guard lacks appropriate communications and navigation systems and will need at least $3 billion in additional vessels and equipment, according to assessments by the Congressional Research Service and the Coast Guard itself. Without more icebreakers, the service will be "unable to accomplish its Arctic missions," according to a report last year by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's inspector general. "If we are going to have a permanent presence there, it's going to require some investment," says Admiral Robert Papp, the Coast Guard commandant. Bloomberg Businessweek  


oil spill in open oceanAlaska Starts to Prepare for the Worst, an Arctic Oil Spill. From the hallways of Congress to Alaska's northern shores, the hype over offshore oil development in the U.S. Arctic continues as Royal Dutch Shell awaits federal permission to launch the first exploratory drilling there in more than a decade. Shell's summer plans to tap five exploratory wells remain delayed as the EPA, the U.S. Coast Guard and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar review permits and other aspects of the project. On Wednesday, Dow Jones cited unnamed sources to report that Shell officials approached the Obama administration about extending the company's summer drilling window in the Arctic, a period that shrinks daily in part because sea ice has been unusually slow to leave the region. Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said in an email Wednesday that Shell officials made no such request. Alaska Dispatch

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.R. 6208, to temporarily limit the authority of the Secretary of Interior to require or authorize the removal or movement of offshore oil and gas facilities (Farenthold, introduced and referred to 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.


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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