Arctic Update Header
July 9, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate return from recess. This week, the House Agriculture Committee is expected to mark up the farm bill. Several veterans' bills and a repeal of the 2010 healthcare law are expected to be considered on the House floor. In the Senate, a tax package will be considered.



Arctic Warming Linked to Combination of Reduced Sea Ice and Global Atmospheric Warming. The combination of melting sea ice and global atmospheric warming are contributing to the high rate of warming in the Arctic, where temperatures are increasing up to four times faster than the global average, a new University of Melbourne study has shown. Science Daily


budgetStatus of Fiscal 2013 Spending Bills. Although both chambers might work on appropriations measures this month, Congress appears unlikely to clear many, or perhaps any, fiscal 2013 spending bills before Election Day. Before the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1, Congress will need to clear a stopgap funding measure, or continuing resolution (CR). House Republican leaders have lined up three spending bills for possible passage during July, with the Defense measure the most likely to reach the floor. Also being considered for floor action are the Agriculture and Financial Services bills. Congressional Quarterly


UAVIn the Arctic, Drones Could Close the Gap. A high-flying, long-endurance pilotless drone - dubbed the Polar Hawk - might fill Canada's gaping hole in its ability to monitor what's going on in the Arctic. With a rapidly receding summer ice cap igniting a new rush to find, stake and exploit Arctic resources, and with ship traffic projected to rise dramatically through the Northwest Passage, there's new urgency to concerns about the surveillance gap. Currently Canada's military presence in the Arctic consists of an occasional patrol by one of Canada's aging Aurora aircraft and brief deployments of a pair of CF-18 warplanes to Inuvik. And none of Canada's warships or submarines can operate in or under the ice. The Globe and Mail


ChinaflagArctic Exploration: Chinese Icebreaker Heads for Bering Strait. The Chinese icebreaker Xue Long has departed Shanghai for a three-month expedition that will take it to the Arctic. Some 120 people are on board, including scientists from France, Denmark, Iceland and Taiwan. According to China Daily, researchers will study the effects of changes in the Arctic ecosystem on the climate of China and the globe at large. Huigen Yang, director of the Polar Research Institute of China, stated: "The expedition will be the longest and farthest among [sic] China's Arctic exploration history and is expected to fulfill the most missions." Alaska Dispatch 


Canada Poised to Extend Arctic Oil Exploration Permits. The Canadian government is giving companies looking for signs of oil and gas in the Beaufort Sea more time. Five companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in exploration rights and their licences were set to expire as early as 2016. The companies have been asking for extensions because they say they need more time after taking part in a review of Arctic drilling. The National Energy Board spent two years on the review, speaking with northerners and industry experts. The goal of the review was to help prevent a major oil spill like the one which devastated the Gulf of Mexico. Alaska Dispatch 


Arctic Policy Outlined by European Union. The European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have outlined the way forward for the EU's constructive engagement in the Arctic. The Arctic region is a vital component of the Earth's environment. Climate change in the Arctic is advancing dramatically, with change visible on a yearly basis, impacting significantly on its ecosystem and the livelihood of its inhabitants. At the same time, rapidly retreating sea ice alongside technological progress are opening up new economic opportunities in the region such as shipping, mining, energy extraction and fishing. While beneficial for the global economy, these activities also call for a prudent and sustainable approach: further repercussions for the fragile Arctic can be expected if top environmental standards are not met. MarineLink


NarwhaleResearchers to Document all Arctic Species. Scientists believe the Arctic is home to about 20,000 species, and an international team of researchers is working to pin that number down by documenting all of the Arctic's life forms. The Arctic Council is conducting the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment project. Lead scientist Hans Meltofte said describing the current state of the Arctic ecosystem is the first step to understanding the changing state of life in the North. "From single-cell organisms to blue whales, polar bears, anything. Plants, insects, invertebrates in the sea - you name it," said Meltofte. CBC News




Coast Guard SealCoast Guard Tells Shell to Fix Arctic Barge. Shell's plans to search for oil under Arctic waters this summer - already delayed by thick ice clinging to Alaska's shores - may face another setback as the company makes Coast Guard-ordered improvements to a barge designed to carry emergency response equipment. During evaluations of the Arctic Challenger barge, still in its final stages of construction in a Bellingham, Wash., shipyard, the Coast Guard found problems with electrical and fire suppression systems that must be fixed before the agency will issue a required certificate of inspection. The barge, which is owned and operated by Superior Energy Services, ultimately is set to be anchored between Shell Oil Co.'s Chukchi and Beaufort Sea drilling sites, ready to move to either location in case of a spill. The Day


The International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean Grid Available. IBCAO Version 3.0 represents the largest improvement since 1999 taking advantage of new data sets collected by the circum-Arctic nations, opportunistic data collected from fishing vessels, data acquired from US Navy submarines and from research ships of various nations. Built using an improved gridding algorithm, this new grid is on a 500 meter spacing, revealing much greater details of the Arctic seafloor than IBCAO Version 1.0 (2.5 km) and Version 2.0 (2.0 km). The area covered by multibeam surveys has increased from ~6 % in Version 2.0 to ~11% in Version 3.0. International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean 


Interesting Website on Endangered Language. The Endangered Languages Project is an online resource to record, access and share samples of and research on endangered languages, as well as to share advice and best practices for those working to document or strengthen languages under threat. The website is available here.

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered Friday.

Future Events    


Climate Report, July 10, 2012. Next week, the NOAA State of the Climate Report will be published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS), and there will be a press release and Webinar on Tuesday, 10 July at noon DC time. The Arctic is being featured in the Webinar, and there will be a member of the panel providing a summary and highlights of the Arctic chapter in the report. You may join the Webinar as an "attendee" or simply call in by teleconference.

To join the event as an attendee

1. Go here

2. Click "Join Now".


To join the teleconference:

1-517-308-9286 or 800-857-9789

Passcode: CLIMATE


Polar Research Board Meeting, July 13-14, 2012. The Polar Research Board will hold a meeting in Portland, OR. Additional information to follow.           



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.  

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