Arctic Update Header
July 31, 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.



Putin Russia to Get Stronger Nuclear Navy, Putin Says. President Vladimir Putin oversaw the start of construction of one of Russia's newest generation submarines on Monday and vowed to boost nuclear naval forces to safeguard the country's position as a leading sea power. Warning that its navy would protect top energy producer Russia's interests in the oil-rich Arctic, Putin led the ceremony to begin building the submarine Prince Vladimir, named after the ruler who founded a precursor state to modern Russia. The Chicago Tribune 



China to Build First Polar-Expedition Icebreaker. Melting ice sheets in the far north have opened up the possibility that ships could routinely cross through the Arctic Ocean as a shortcut between China and Europe as well as explore the oil-rich area. The ship "is expected to greatly boost the country's expedition capacities in polar and oceanic regions", the Xinhua state news agency said, citing the State Oceanic Administration. The vessel, which will be designed with the help a Finnish company and will be the first built in China, is set to begin operating in 2014. It will join the already active vessel, Xuelong, which was purchased from Ukraine in 1993. PhyOrg 


Interior Hayes Outlines Next Steps in Facilitating Science-Based Decisions in the Arctic. As part of the Obama Administration's commitment to facilitating evidence-based decision-making in the Arctic, Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes today announced two new efforts to further strengthen the role of science in resource management decisions regarding both onshore and offshore energy development activities in Alaska. The Administration, through the Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska, established by executive order in July 2011, will begin work to establish a centralized hub of scientific information to help inform decision-makers and the public. The Alaska Working Group will also prepare a framework for building a more integrated approach to evaluating potential infrastructure development in the Alaskan Arctic. The initiatives are outlined further in a memorandum available here. Department of Interior 


Chinaflag China Vies for Seat at Council on Arctic Resources and Trade Routes: China wants in on the Arctic Council, and the Council appears to be warming to the idea. As rising temperatures melt ice caps and uncover previously inaccessible natural resources and sea routes, the Arctic has caught the attention of countries near and far - not least the world's second-biggest economic power, China. At the center of the action is the Arctic Council, the most important intergovernmental organization in the region. Now, China is seeking to become a permanent observer."China wants a larger say in the council, which is the only organization which sets the agenda for Arctic affairs," said Chen Gang, a research fellow at the National University of Singapore's East Asian Institute. The Global Post


Arctic Rivers Discharging More Water Could Have Broad Climate Effects. A new study shows that freshwater discharge by northern rivers into the Arctic Ocean is up, and the reasons might be surprising. The study, published in the Nature Climate Change journal and authored by seven scientists including Xiangdong Zhang of the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center, found that three rivers in Eurasia -- the Ob, Lena and Yenissey -- are all contributing 10 percent more water than they did 60 years ago. That's about 1,700 cubic kilometers a year, or about one Lake Ontario of freshwater discharged into the Arctic Ocean every year. More fresh water into the Arctic could mean a change of water currents. Fresh water floats on top of salt water and the mixing, or stratification, affects the ocean's density. If the rate of mixing changes, the ocean could see changes, like increasing sea ice or additional climate change in regions surrounding the Atlantic Ocean. Alaska Dispatch


 American Arctic: Alaskans Challenge Obama to Back Bold Polar Policy. Alaska's senators drew attention last week to the country's lack of a formal strategy on the Arctic, noting that the U.S. is the only Arctic nation without one. In a letter to the president, Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski called for action, saying it is time to develop policies and visions that will guide federal agencies dealing with Arctic development. "Developing an American Arctic strategy is especially timely now, with the hope for offshore oil and gas exploration in Alaska's Arctic this summer, the number of cargo ships transiting the Bering Strait are increasing to new record highs and America's indigenous peoples are justifiably concerned with the impacts of these developments and changing conditions on their subsistence way of life," the letter said. Alaska Dispatch 


NOAA NOAA Ship Fairweather Conducting Hydrographic Reconnaissance in the Arctic. NOAA Ship Fairweather begins a 30-day survey mission in the Arctic this week, scheduled to check a sparsely measured 1,500-nautical mile coastal corridor from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, north through the Bering Strait and east to the Canadian border. The mission will collect needed information to determine NOAA's future charting survey projects in the Arctic and will cover sea lanes that were last measured by Captain James Cook in 1778. "Much of Alaska's coastal area has never had full bottom surveys to measure water depths," said Cmdr. James Crocker, commanding officer of Fairweather, and chief scientist of the party. "A tanker, carrying millions of gallons of oil, should not be asked to rely on measurements gathered in the 19th century. Unfortunately, that's exactly what navigators have to do, in too many cases. NOAA is changing that." NOAA

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.R. 205, the HEARTH Act (Martin, signed by the president)

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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