Arctic Update Header
July 30, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


This week, the House will consider legislation to extend authorization for agricultural programs and tax provisions. The Senate will consider cybersecurity provisions.



The Conversion of Climate-Change Skeptic. (Op-Ed) Call me a converted Muller, Richard skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I'm now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause. My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth's land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases. New York Times 


Cabled observatories in the Canadian Arctic... "the military is totally Moran, Kate interested." Oceanographer Kate Moran, who advised the Obama administration during the disastrous BP oil spill, was recently named president and CEO of Ocean Networks Canada at the University of Victoria-overseeing a massive underwater observatory that uses fibre-optic cables wired across the ocean floor to deliver a constant stream of data via the Internet. Last year, NEPTUNE Canada made the top-10 list of "humankind's most ambitious science projects" in Popular Science, alongside the Large Hadron Collider and the International Space Station. Macleans.    



 Arctic Sea Ice Appears Headed for New Record Low: Ice continues to melt around Arctic region despite ice jams along Baffin Island and the Northwest Passage. While Frobisher Bay and other Nunavut sea lanes remain clogged with ice, Arctic sea ice continued to track at levels far below average through July, with open water in the Kara and Barents seas reaching as far north as typically seen during September, reports the Colorado-based National Snow and Ice Data Center. The NSIDC's satellite images of ice cover show that overall Arctic ice extent on July 28, that is, the areas of ocean with at least 15 per cent of ice cover, came in as low as in 2007, when sea ice extent hit a new low. That's likely due to the onset of sea ice melt, which began earlier than normal throughout most of the Arctic. Melt began earlier than normal (as compared to averages for the period 1979 to 2000) throughout most of the Arctic, the exceptions being the Bering Sea and the East Greenland Sea. Nunatsiaq Online 


permafrost Global Warming Transforming Arctic Shrubs into Forest. Researchers in Finland and the United Kingdom suggest that the warming Arctic climate could turn existing shrubs into trees in the coming years. The finding, presented in the journal Nature Climate Change, reveals that patches of forest can emerge across the tundra, which in turn could speed up the planet's warming. The study was funded in part by the ECOCHANGE ('Creating conditions for persistence of biodiversity in the face of climate change') project, which has received a Marie Curie 'Promoting sciences' grant worth EUR 173 400 under the EU's Seventh Framework Program (FP7). Led by the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, the researchers focused their work on a 100 000-square-kilometre area, known as the north-western Eurasian tundra, which stretches from western Siberia to Finland. Data generated from fieldwork and satellite imaging, as well as from observations made by indigenous reindeer herders, indicated that between 8 % and 15 % of the area's willow (Salix) and alder (Alnus) plants have, since the 1970s, grown into trees that are more than 8 meters high. Cordis 


shellShell and Beyond: Toward an Arctic Standard in the New North. In 2011, the first visit by a U.S. secretary of state to a meeting of the eight-nation Arctic Council elevated the Arctic in American diplomacy. It also underscored the region's geostrategic significance and the role that the U.S. wants to play amongst the other Arctic nations, each of which seeks to commercially exploit the Arctic's once-inaccessible resources. The Arctic Council nations are all vying to both compete and cooperate in what Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called a "shared stake in a sustainable future." In a 2012 visit to Norway, Secretary Hillary Clinton acknowledged U.S. support for advancing Arctic development in a manner that is "economically sustainable and environmentally responsible." Alaska Dispatch


Greenpeace Finds Deep-Sea Corals on Shell's Arctic Drill Site. Greenpeace scientists have identified a dense patch of deep-sea corals in a lease area of the Arctic's Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast, where Royal Dutch Shell is slated to start drilling. Researchers for the advocacy group, which have been lobbying to block drilling in the Arctic this summer, went down about 150 feet in a submarine this week to take samples. During the dives, they found significant concentrations of the soft coral Gersemia rubiformis, which is commonly known as sea raspberry. Washington Post


Clam Scientists Fund Own Study to Monitor Arctic Pollution: Researcher says data needed now before Northwest Passage opens to shipping. One American scientist is taking pollution in the Arctic so seriously she's funding the start of a new project herself. Carol Reinisch is paying out of her own pocket to start a study using mollusks, such as clams, to monitor pollution in the Northwest Passage. The semi-retired scientist and environmentalist said there's a need to get baseline data now on clams along the Northwest Passage before it becomes a regular shipping route. "My point is not to impede that - but my point is you must have an environmental monitoring program in place," she said. "There's an absolute requirement for baseline data. We did not have baseline data with the Exxon Valdez, we really did not have baseline data in certain species with the BP oil spill. But I think it's absolutely essential to get baseline data with one species before this really opens up - and you and I both know that it's going to." CBC News


Narwhale Canada Proposes Change in Narwhal Hunting Quotas. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is proposing dividing narwhal into six populations and setting hunting quotas based on the number of narwhal in each group, rather than giving a certain number of tags to each community. The new hunting quota proposal is part of a draft Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for Narwhal. Fisheries and Oceans banned the international export of narwhal tusks from 17 communities in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut in December 2010. But the department agreed to work with Nunavut Tunngavik, the Nunavut Inuit land claims organization, on a new management plan after the land claims organization prepared to challenge the ban in court. The ban on exporting tusks has been lifted, except in the High Arctic community of Grise Fiord. This week, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board is holding public hearings on the draft management plan. Alaska Dispatch 


Arctic Map Arctic Survey to Help Set Charting Priorities: Fairweather to Take Depth Measurements Along Busy Maritime Corridor. While it may be hard to fathom, modern fuel tankers that transport millions of gallons of oil across the Arctic are sometimes forced to rely on ocean depth measurements reported by the explorer and mapmaker Captain James Cook back in 1778! According to NOAA Corps Commander James Crocker, commanding officer of the NOAA Ship Fairweather, "Much of Alaska's coastal area has never had full-bottom bathymetric surveys to measure water depths." Fortunately, the Fairweather will leave its home port of Ketchikan, Alaska, this week on a 30-day reconnaissance mission that will help NOAA prioritize its efforts to update navigational charts in the Arctic. Crocker, who is also the chief scientist of this preliminary survey, explains that the Fairweather is setting out to check sparse soundings (a nautical term for depth measurements) along a busy maritime transit corridor from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to the Canadian border. Commercial shippers, tankers, passenger vessels, and fishing fleets employ navigational charts produced by NOAA's Office of Coast Survey to navigate the 1,500-nautical-mile route. Many of the charts, however, depict sporadic depth readings reported by private vessels in decades and, indeed, centuries past. Those vessels lacked precise positioning equipment and experts who knew how to take accurate measurements. NOAA 


GPS Can Now Measure Ice Melt, Change in Greenland Over Months Rather Than Years. Researchers have found a way to use GPS to measure short-term changes in the rate of ice loss on Greenland - and reveal a surprising link between the ice and the atmosphere above it. The study, published in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, hints at the potential for GPS to detect many consequences of climate change, including ice loss, the uplift of bedrock, changes in air pressure - and perhaps even sea level rise. The team, led by earth scientists at Ohio State University, pinpointed a period in 2010 when high temperatures caused the natural ice flow out to sea to suddenly accelerate, and 100 billion tons of ice melted away from the continent in only 6 months. The Ohio State University Research and Innovations Communications

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

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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