Arctic Update Header
April 4, 2013


Both chambers are in recess. The Senate returns on April 8. The House returns on April 9.  


Two Reasons Alaska Should Hesitate on Proposed Oil Tax Cut [Opinion]. The governor's oil tax bill, SB21, should be tabled for the time being. It should be tabled for two primary reasons. First, BP, Exxon and Conoco Phillips need to give a guarantee to the state that they will use some if not all of the proposed public tax rebates to increase the flow of oil through TAPS. Lacking this guarantee, to bill should not be passed. It makes no sense to hand billions of dollars of Alaska's public monies to these companies without receiving anything concrete in return. As it currently stands, SB 21 would hand a huge tax break to these corporate giants in hope that they will decide to explore or develop more oil on the Slope. Alaska Dispatch


NOAANOAA, Partners: Thin, Low Arctic Clouds Played an Important Role in the Massive 2012 Greenland Ice Melt. Clouds over the central Greenland Ice Sheet last July were "just right" for driving surface temperatures there above the melting point, according to a new study by scientists at NOAA and the Universities of Wisconsin, Idaho and Colorado. The study, published today in Nature, found that thin, low-lying clouds allowed the sun's energy to pass through and warm the surface of the ice, while at the same time trapping heat near the surface of the ice cap. This combination played a significant role in last summer's record-breaking melt. "Thicker cloud conditions would not have led to the same amount of surface warming," said Matthew Shupe, research meteorologist with NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado and the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory. "To understand the region's future, you'll need to understand its clouds. Our finding has implications for the fate of ice throughout the Arctic." NOAA


Norway's Oil Future Seen With Ice-Free Arctic's Barrels. In the wake of plummeting oil output, Norway, western Europe's biggest petroleum producer, may have found its new money spigot: an ice-free expanse of the Arctic Ocean known as the Barents Sea. Companies will drill a least 12 wells in the Norwegian Barents this year -- a record equal to the number drilled in the past two years combined -- as they increase the effort to unlock an estimated 6 billion barrels of oil equivalent the lightly explored area is thought to hold. If half of that were oil, it would be valued at $330 billion at Brent benchmark prices of $110 a barrel. Bloomberg 


arctic shippingThe Emerging Arctic Maritime Region. The United States is an Arctic nation with significant equities in the future of the region. As with all U.S. waters, the Coast Guard is responsible for ensuring safe, secure, and environmentally responsible maritime activity in the Arctic. Our efforts are accomplished in close coordination with federal, state, local, tribal and international partners in order to facilitate commerce, manage borders and improve resilience to disasters. The Arctic environment is changing over time. Satellite observations show decreasing multi-year ice and increasing open water during summer. Coastal villages have experienced environmental changes that make their communities more prone to storm surges, diminishing permafrost and coastal erosion. Although winter sea travel is still limited, maritime navigation is becoming more feasible during summer and early autumn. Economic development, in the forms of resource extraction, adventure tourism and trans-Arctic shipping, are driving much of the current activity in the region.


Chinese Foray Into Arctic Sparks Russian Concern. A Chinese shipping company that is set to establish the country's first commercial voyage through the Northern Sea Route to the United States and Europe this summer has raised concern in the Russian media, according to, a Chinese news website. The misgivings are evident in some reports on China's activities in Russia's Far East and news about China's aggressive development of Russia's Northern Sea Route, which previously belonged to Russia exclusively. Focus Taiwan News Channel


parnellParnell Discusses 5-Year Fiscal Plan for Alaska. Gov. Sean Parnell on Wednesday laid out a five-year fiscal plan that includes an annual decline in overall spending and a draw of up to $700 million from the state's savings. It came as he and legislative leaders look to rein in spending and absorb the near-term hit of a potential oil tax overhaul, with the expectation that tax changes will lead to more production. Parnell has said it will take three to five years under a new tax structure to judge its effects. Anchorage Daily News



Senate Finance Committee Unveils Its Capital Budget Plan. The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday proposed spending $2.04 billion on capital projects, $159.9 million more than Gov. Sean Parnell's proposal but far short of spending in recent years. The proposal includes $12 million more total spending for Fairbanks, compared to the governor's budget. The Senate version would bring the area's grand total to $107.9 million for the year. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.

Future Events                      


Arctic Science Summit Week, April 13-19, 2013. Krakow, Poland. The ASSW is the annual gathering of international organizations engaged in supporting and facilitating Arctic research. Its purpose is to provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration and cooperation in all fields of Arctic science and to combine science and management meetings. Side meetings organized by groups with interest in the Arctic science and policy will also be held within the week.


American Polar Society 75th Anniversary, April 15-18, 2013, Woods Hole, MA. The American Polar Society will hold a meeting and symposium at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This meeting and symposium is titled "The Polar Regions in the 21st Century: Globalization, Climate Change and Geopolitics." 


Arctic Observing Summit 2013, April 30- May 2, 2013, Vancouver, BC, CA. 

 The Arctic Observing Summit is led by the International Study of Arctic Change (ISAC). It is a Sustaining Arctic Observing Network (SAON) task and part of the broader SAON implementation process, which is led by the Arctic Council jointly with the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). AOS is a high-level, biennial summit that aims to provide community-driven, science-based guidance for the design, implementation, coordination and sustained long term (decades) operation of an international network of arctic observing systems. The AOS will provide a platform to address urgent and broadly recognized needs of arctic observing across all components of the arctic system, including the human component. It will foster international communication and coordination of long-term observations aimed at improving understanding and responding to system-scale arctic change. The AOS will be an international forum for optimizing resource allocation through coordination and exchange among researchers, funding agencies, and others involved or interested in long term observing activities, while minimizing duplication and gaps.


International Conference on Arctic Ocean Acidification, May 6-8, 2013, Bergen, Norway. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, and the University of British Columbia, Canada, host a conference to consider Arctic Ocean acidification. Topics will include response of Arctic Ocean to increasing CO2 and related changes in the global carbon cycle, social and policy challenges, Arctic Ocean acidification and ecological and biogeochemical coupling, implications of changing Arctic Ocean acidification for northern (commercial and subsistence) fisheries, and future developments.


Private Sector Transportation, Infrastructure, Assets, Response, Capacity, and Development in the Arctic, May 30, 2012, Seattle, WA. A recently-held Arctic transportation workshop in Iceland highlighted the need to better understand private sector transportation infrastructure and assets, recognizing industry's role in the responsible development of resources, response and supportive infrastructure. As a follow-up to its efforts to inventory and map Arctic transportation infrastructure, the Institute of the North is hosting a workshop at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, Washington that focuses on three critical areas: private sector assets and infrastructure in the Arctic, staging areas outside the Arctic that support Northern development, and vessels and technology that are difficult to map but need to be measured for future decision-making. Participants include industry representatives, technical experts, researchers, Coast Guard and other response personnel.


AGU Science Policy Conference, June 24-26, 2013. (Washington, DC) Hundreds of Earth and space scientists, students, policymakers, and industry professionals will discuss key Earth and space science topics that address challenges to our economy, national security, environment, and public safety. This meeting will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions related to energy, natural hazards, technology and infrastructure, climate, oceans, and the Arctic. The event is hosted by American Geophysical Union (AGU), a Washington, D. C.-based international nonprofit scientific association.


Arctic Cities, Global Processes, and Local Realities, December 2-4, 2013 (Reovaniemi, Finland) The conference is organized jointly by the City of Rovaniemi and the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland, Finland. The goal of the conference is to present the latest research scientific knowledge about the global processes as they become local realities. Even if the Conference is scientific in orientation, it aims to bridge science and knowledge into action by bringing top scholars to share their research results, and to organize joint discussion with the leaders of the Arctic Cities. Sessions include: Rovaniemi Process: past, present, future; Arctic responses to global environmental problems; people and extractive industries; tourism in the Arctic; the Arctic in global economy; climate change in the Arctic; indigenous peoples in cities; and, Arctic global flows. Cross cutting themes include: Arctic cities and global processes; management and governance in the Arctic; and, Arctic together with non-Arctic.

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