Arctic Update Header
March 14, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will consider surface transportation legislation.  The House is not in session.




Russian Military Experts: NATO exercise in Norway a provocation. The Cold Response 2012 exercise taking place in Northern Norway on the border to Russia is a provocation and a sign NATO wants to strengthen its geopolitical and diplomatic efforts with military might, two Russian military experts say. The largest military exercise in Norway in ten years is taking place in mid-Troms and involves 16,000 soldiers from 15 countries. The exercise includes the largest ever live-fire drill ever held in Norway. "The current military exercise takes place amid NATO's increased activities in the Arctic. This, in turn, is defined by the coming division of the natural resources in the region. Apparently, through flexing muscles, NATO wants to show that it is set on strengthening its geopolitical and diplomatic efforts with military might," said chief editor of the newspaper "National" Safety" Igor Korotchenko to Voice of Russia. Barents Observer 

Why a [Canadian] National Energy Strategy Must Look North. While decision-makers across the country mull over the importance of a national energy strategy, the full potential of Canada's energy sector is quietly sitting untapped. Nunavut, a territory that makes up one-fifth of Canada, is estimated to have 20 per cent to 25 per cent of Canada's total oil and gas resources. We are the future of the Canadian energy sector. First, though, the people of Nunavut have to be convinced that the benefits of oil and gas development in the Arctic outweigh the risks to our environment. The Globe and Mail 


russian flagRussian Arctic Oil Drilling Soon to Start. Russia's first offshore platform for permanent oil-drilling in the Arctic is soon ready to start production. Drilling is planned to start in March. On the Prirazlomnaya platform in the Pechora Sea work is continuing at full speed to be able to start drilling for oil as soon as possible. "The most important task right now is to prepare the drilling complex", says Vice General Director of Sevmash Valery Borodin in a press release. "We are also improving the power supply on the platform by installing a third turbine", he added. At this moment there are 534 people working on the platform. Three vessels are engaged in transportation of necessary equipment to the platform from Murmansk. The platform is surrounded 90 % with ice with a thickness of up to 50 cm, the press release reads. Oil and Gas Eurasia  


Senate Rejects Drilling for Oil in Arctic Refuge: Begich breaks with other members of his party to vote in favor of measure. The U.S. Senate on Tuesday resoundingly rejected a sweeping measure to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other protected areas to drilling as well as approve construction of the Keystone pipeline project. The vote was the first time in four years the Senate has voted on a measure including ANWR drilling, and it failed miserably. The proposal needed 60 votes to pass and avoid a filibuster. It received only 41 votes in favor, with 57 senators against. Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts pushed the measure as an amendment to the bill that funds transportation projects across the nation. His amendment was packed with so many controversial items it was bound to fail in the Democratic-controlled Senate. It was as much a jab at President Obama by Republican leaders during a time of high gas prices and election politics as anything else. Anchorage Daily 



Proposed Coast Guard Cuts Raise Concerns. The Obama administration's plan to cut the Coast Guard budget for fiscal 2013 is shaping up as perhaps the biggest battleground between Congress and the White House in the upcoming Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. In multiple House and Senate hearings last week, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle made clear they were deeply dissatisfied with the proposed reductions, which would see the agency's discretionary funding shrink by approximately 4 percent to $8.3 billion. Congressional Quarterly


Greenland Ice Sheet May Melt Completely With 1.6 Degrees of Global Warming. The Greenland ice sheet is likely to be more vulnerable to global warming than previously thought. The temperature threshold for melting the ice sheet completely is in the range of 0.8 to 3.2 degrees Celsius of global warming, with a best estimate of 1.6 degrees above pre-industrial levels, shows a new study by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Today, already 0.8 degrees of global warming has been observed. Substantial melting of land ice could contribute to long-term sea-level rise of several meters and therefore it potentially affects the lives of many millions of people. Science Daily 


Mathematical Methods Predict Movement of Oil and Ash Following Environmental Disasters. When oil started gushing into the Gulf of Mexico in late April 2010, friends asked George Haller whether he was tracking its movement. That's because the McGill engineering professor has been working for years on ways to better understand patterns in the seemingly chaotic motion of oceans and air. Meanwhile, colleagues of Josefina Olascoaga in Miami were asking the geophysicist a similar question. Fortunately, she was. Science Daily 


ChinaflagChina Readies Arctic Research Mission. China says it will conduct a research expedition in the Northeast Passage, its first attempt to traverse the shipping route also called the Northern Sea Route. The arctic expedition aboard the Xuelong (Snow Dragon) icebreaker will carry out oceanic, atmospheric, sea-ice and marine life research in the region, Liu Cigui, director of the State Oceanic Administration, told China's state-run news agency Xinhua. "If the expedition goes according to plan it will also be the first time for a Chinese icebreaker to reach the Barents Sea," Liu said. UPI 


Pass the Books. Hold the Oil. [Op-Ed, and AK relevant] Every so often someone asks me: "What's your favorite country, other than your own?" I've always had the same answer: Taiwan. "Taiwan? Why Taiwan?" people ask. Very simple: Because Taiwan is a barren rock in a typhoon-laden sea with no natural resources to live off of - it even has to import sand and gravel from China for construction - yet it has the fourth-largest financial reserves in the world. Because rather than digging in the ground and mining whatever comes up, Taiwan has mined its 23 million people, their talent, energy and intelligence - men and women. I always tell my friends in Taiwan: "You're the luckiest people in the world. How did you get so lucky? You have no oil, no iron ore, no forests, no diamonds, no gold, just a few small deposits of coal and natural gas - and because of that you developed the habits and culture of honing your people's skills, which turns out to be the most valuable and only truly renewable resource in the world today. How did you get so lucky?" New York Times


MurkowskiMurkowski Addresses International Seafood Show: Alaska Seafood Feeds the Nation, is Economic Engine for State. Senator Requests Coast Guard Hearing to Raise Nautical Concerns. Senator Lisa Murkowski attended the 2012 International Boston Seafood Show over the weekend, kicking off a roundtable discussion on the seafood industry's importance to the United States - highlighting the crucial role Alaska plays in the industry with the panel of industry leaders, government officials and seafood enthusiasts. "Alaska accounts for just over half of the entire U.S. seafood harvest, directly employing more than 50,000 workers as fishermen and processors - plus thousands more in support industries," Murkowski said.  "Alaska's seafood is not just an important income source for Alaskans, but our resources also provide jobs for many other Americans who are willing to venture north each year in search of fish and adventure." Senator Lisa Murkowski  


The New North: Arctic Multiculturalism. As newcomers to Canada head north in search of money and a better life, they're changing the face of the northern landscape. Samir Atalah is originally from Syria and speaks six languages. When he came north for a job and an adventure he had planned on spending only a few months in Iqaluit. That was five years ago. "We see a lot of people coming in Nunavut," he said. "They don't come for nothing. We show them what is good, what is not." Atalah is one of about 20 drivers who work for Nunavut Caribou Cabs. The owner, Danny Savard, says his business couldn't survive solely on local hires. But word of mouth in southern Canada has meant a relatively stable workforce for the small business owner. CBC News


Congratulations, Jeff! Jeff Welker, Director and Professor of the Environment and Natural Resources Institute at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, was awarded the Fulbright Distinguished US Arctic Chair in Norway- congratulations, Jeff! Welker will undertake a host of "winter ecology" studies on sources and ages of respired CO2 using 14C techniques under ambient and long-term deeper snow. Additionally, Welker will study the effects of Svalbard reindeer on winter C cycling using a set of long-term grazing exclosures. We look forward to hearing about your research!


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday. 

Future Events                                   



Arctic Science Summit Week 2012, April 20-22, 2012. The summit will provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in all areas of arctic science. Side meetings organized by stakeholders in arctic science and policy are also expected. More information here


From Knowledge to Action, April 22-27, 2012. The conference will bring IPYmeetinglogotogether over 2,000 arctic and antarctic researchers, policy and decision-makers, and a broad range of interested parties from academia, industry, non-government, education and circumpolar communities including indigenous peoples. The conference is hosted by the Canadian IPY Program Office, in partnership with the National Research Council of Canada, among other groups. Each day of the conference will feature a program of keynote speakers, plenary panel discussions, parallel science sessions, as well as dedicated poster sessions. The conference-wide plenaries will explore themes related to topics of polar change, global linkages, communities and health, ecosystem services, infrastructure, resources and security. Other sessions will provide the opportunity to present and discuss the application of research findings, policy implications and how to take polar knowledge to action. Click here


USARC Commission Meeting, April 27-28, 2012. The 97th meeting of the CPClogoUSARC will be held in Montreal, Canada, in conjunction with the "From Knowledge to  


usarc logo large

Action" IPY meeting referred to above. The Commission will meet on April 27-28, and will meet jointly with the Canadian Polar Commission on the afternoon of the 27th, to discuss common interests in Arctic Research. Details to follow. 


Arctic Forum 2012, April 30-May 1, 2012. The Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. will host the forum in conjunction with their 24th annual meeting. Both events will be in Washington, D.C. The Arctic Forum is part of the American Geophysical Union's Science Policy Conference, which will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The Conference will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions. Within the Science Policy Conference, the Arctic Forum will assess gaps and priority needs for arctic scientific information to inform decision makers in policy

formation for three key themes:

                - Governance and Security in the Arctic;

                - Transportation and Energy Development; and

                - Changing Arctic Ecosystems.

The Forum will examine the current state of policymaker and public understanding of the issues. An important goal will be to foster an increased capacity for dialogue and action on arctic science-policy issues.


American Polar Society 75th Anniversary Meeting and Symposium, "The Polar Regions in the 21st Century: Globalization, Climate Change and Geopolitics", May 2-4, 2012, The Explorers Club, NYC. For 75 years, the American Polar Society has both documented and communicated polar activities to the interested world. This meeting will bring together the current leaders in science, government, commerce, and diplomacy for a state-of-the-art forecast of the next seventy-five years in a world influenced more than ever before by the destiny of the Arctic and Antarctic. Click here.  


The Tenth International Conference on Permafrost, June 2012. The conference will be held in Tyumen, Russia, and is organized and hosted by Russia. The last conference was held in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2008. Click here.  


15th 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 healthmeetinglogoindigenous 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. Click here


The Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24-28, 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. Click here


Arctic/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 inuitconferencelogomuseums 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. For more information, click here. 


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