Arctic Update Header
October 15, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are not in session. 



arctic shippingArctic Mapping to Make Navigating Northwest Passage Safer. Arctic explorers may have come up empty-handed in the search for Sir John Franklin's lost shipwrecked vessels, but the research they did will help future mariners navigating the treacherous the Northwest Passage. But in a bit of Arctic irony, work done during the search in Nunavut will help future mariners navigating through the icy and dangerous waters where HMS Erebus and HMS Terror may have gone down. Hydrographers who were part of the search gathered enough depth and multi-beam sidescan sonar data to create a preliminary electronic chart that expands the area for safe navigation in Alexandra Strait, reducing travel time and saving fuel costs for vessels in the area. Alaska Dispatch


Arctic Innovation Competition Set for Friday at UAF. The annual Arctic Innovation Competition, sponsored by the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Management, is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Friday at the UAF Wood Center Ballroom. Entrants are asked to propose new, feasible and potentially profitable ideas. Last year, winning ideas included a motorized reciprocating file tool, a power-dense marine motor and a bathtub assist device to aid the elderly or disabled. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


Polar bearRussian Polar Bears in Greater Peril. While arctic sea ice reached a record low this summer, it is not widely known that almost all the ice that melted or drifted away was on the Russian, not the Canadian and Greenlandic side of the great northern sea. One immediate consequence has been further grief and peril for Russia's already seriously distressed polar bear population. "It is worse for Russian polar bears than the bears in Canada or Greenland because the pack ice is retreating much faster in our waters," said Nikita Ovsyannikov, deputy director of Russia's polar bear reserve on Wrangel Island in the Chukchi Sea to the northwest of Alaska. "The best habitat is quickly disappearing. It is extreme." Windsor Star


Russian Ship Back in Port After Arctic Supply Expedition. The ice-class diesel-electric ship, which set out on July 28th, sailed along the entire length of the Northern Sea Route delivering specialists and cargo to hard-to-reach stations located on the coasts and islands of the White, Barents, Kara, Laptev and East Siberian Seas. It had a total of 1,700 tons of cargo for Arctic stations and several research teams on board. Voice of Russia


Can Iceland Establish Itself as an Arctic Coastal Nation? [Opinion] Iceland sits right on the divide between the North American and Eurasian continental plates. A little hotspot of volcanic activity in the North Atlantic, it has tried to rediscover its geopolitical identity several times over the past century. I recently read Klaus Dodds and Valur Ingimundarson's article in the Polar Journal, "Territorial nationalism and Arctic geopolitics: Iceland as and Arctic coastal state." Essentially, what the authors posit is that Iceland has most recently been trying to position itself as an Arctic coastal state. During the Cold War, Iceland enjoyed a strategic position between North America and the USSR. Alaska Dispatch


begichBegich Receives Upbeat Report from Federal and Industry Officials on 2012 Oil Drilling Season. This summer's preliminary exploratory oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic waters made significant progress toward next season's work and streamlined the way for more aggressive development next year, according to testimony provided by a wide range of local, federal and industry officials during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held in Anchorage on Thursday and chaired by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich. Shell Alaska Vice President Pete Slaiby detailed for Begich his company's progress this year, which included mobilizing two drill ships and more than 20 support vessels, full training of 1,800 personnel and conducted extensive scientific research. Slaiby said the federal regulatory process is working for Shell and that Shell made significant progress this summer. Alaska Native News


sikuliaq2$200 Million Alaska-based Research Vessel Prepares to Get its Feet Wet. On Saturday, the $200 million, 261-foot-long research vessel Sikuliaq -- operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks -- finally got its hull wet in the waters off of Marinette, Wisc. For nearly two years, the ship has been getting from-the-ground-up treatment at a shipyard there. The Sikuliaq finally found its way into the water this past weekend at a launch and christening ceremony. That doesn't mean the ship is ready for action, though -- it's still less than 80 percent complete. After that, it faces months of testing. The vessel won't even find its way to Alaska until the end of 2013. But Saturday's ceremony is a big step forward, and it highlights the progress being made on the ship, which is being funded primarily through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus. Alaska Dispatch


NOAA Official Outlines Arctic Offshore Drilling Lessons Needs. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other federal agencies worked hard in the 18 months leading up to the 2012 Arctic offshore drilling season and came away with important lessons when it ended and a better idea of its future needs, a NOAA official told a US Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Oct. 11. In written testimony, Laura K. Furgione, acting director of NOAA's National Weather Service, said NOAA realized more than ever that it's necessary to consider the variability of the rapidly changing Arctic and shifting historical baseline when making decisions; to appropriately weigh oil and gas development impacts on Alaska, especially North Slope and Native communities; and to increase existing collaboration and communication to improve efficiency and integrated science-based decision-making. Oil and Gas Journal


russian flagRussia's Strategic Tasks in Arctic, Global Ocean. On Wednesday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended a keel-laying ceremony of the diesel-powered icebreaker LK-25 in St. Petersburg. Industry experts say the keel-laying of the new generation icebreaker marks a new stage in Russia's exploration of the Arctic region. The state-of-the-art diesel-powered icebreaker LK-25 of ice class Icebreaker 8 will replace the old icebreakers, which were built in the 1980s. With the capacity of 25 MW, the new icebreaker will be capable of sailing the most difficult conditions of the Kara Sea, in any ice situation. Voice of Russia

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered Friday.

Future Events                      


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.  


Foreign Policy Panel Debate: "Is the Law of the Sea Treaty in the United States' Best Interests?" October 30, 2012. The American Academy of Diplomacy and the World Affairs Council cosponsor a panel discussion on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.  


U.S.-Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum (2012) Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum 2012, November 13-15, 2012. The Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum is a biannual event with representation from government, industry, academia, Aboriginal groups, and northerners from both Canada and the United States. The forum provides an opportunity for United States and Canadian decision makers, regulators, Aboriginals, industry members, non-governmental organizations and scientists to discuss current scientific research and future directions for northern oil and gas activities. The focus is on technical, scientific, and engineering research that can be applied to support management and regulatory processes related to oil and gas exploration and development in the North. The North Slope Science Initiative and the U.S. Department of the Interior is hosting, in partnership with our counterparts in Canada and the United States, the third United States - Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum from November 13 to 15, 2012, at the Hilton Hotel, Anchorage, Alaska. The Forum will showcase the value of Northern scientific research in support of sound decision-making for oil and gas management. 


Wakefield28th 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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