Arctic Update Header
August 12, 2013
Institute of the North's "Week of the Arctic" August 12-18, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska). Presentations, roundtable discussions and workshops are held as part of the Week of the Arctic, varied in form to reach different audiences and achieve multiple goals. The Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award dinner is the signature event for the Week of the Arctic. In recent years, the Award has been given to Red Dog Mine (2012) and Jacob Adams (2011). The award was created in 2000 to recognize individuals and organizations that make outstanding contributions toward sustainable development in the Arctic. Join us as we present CH2M Hill this year's Award. The Week of the Arctic culminates on Sunday, August 18 with a champagne toast in celebration of the Governor Walter J. Hickel Day of the Arctic."


The House of Representatives and the Senate remain on August recess.




Opinion: Why EPA needs to block Alaska's Pebble Mine. "It's no mystery why more than 80 percent of the people who live in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska oppose the Pebble Mine. A consortium of foreign mining companies wants to build the largest open pit mine in North America, in the heart of one of the most pristine and ecologically diverse places our country has left. According to a comprehensive scientific assessment nearing completion by the Environmental Protection Agency, the project -- which would extract copper and gold -- could have 'catastrophic' consequences for the world's most productive wild salmon fishery, putting at risk tens of thousands of jobs and $1.5 billion in economic benefits each year." Real Clear Politics


Steller SealNOAA grant will aid in species recovery. "The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has been awarded more than $1.3 million in federal funds to aid recovery of endangered western Steller sea lions listed under the Endangered Species Act. ADF&G will receive a total of $1,385,410, of which $527,810 is allocated for this fiscal year... ADF&G was among 10 coastal states and two federally recognized tribes awarded grants by the National Marine Fisheries Service for conservation projects designed to recover marine mammals, sea turtles and fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act." Cordova Times 


Opinion: Global warming, Arctic ice loss, and armchair scientists. "As humans put more and more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, the Earth's climate changes; we all know that. Some of the trickier questions are, how fast is it changing, what can we expect in the future, what are the costs of slowing emissions (compared to the costs of doing nothing), and what changes are we already observing that give us such confidence in our predictions? Perhaps the poster child of climate change is in the Arctic, where sea ice has been declining at an astonishing rate. Over the past few decades, satellite information has been gathered which shows huge declines in ice extent (the area covered by ice)." The Guardian 


Arctic sea ice loss dramatically slows; record minimum unlikely in 2013. "Since shrinking at a torrid pace in the first half of July, the Arctic sea ice meltdown has slowed markedly. 'I've seen slowdowns before, but this is out of this world,' writes the Arctic Sea Ice blog. The blog notes Arctic sea ice actually expanded by 20,000 square kilometers for 10 days at the end of July. 'That's so crazy for this phase of the melting season that I barely have words for it,' the blog says. 'It's unique as far as the record goes.'" Washington Post 


Heat flow from Earth's mantle contributes to Greenland ice melting. "The Greenland ice sheet is melting from below, caused by a high heat flow from the mantle into the lithosphere. This influence is very variable spatially and has its origin in an exceptionally thin lithosphere. Consequently, there is an increased heat flow from the mantle and a complex interplay between this geothermal heating and the Greenland ice sheet. The international research initiative IceGeoHeat led by the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences establishes in the current online issue of Nature Geoscience (Vol 6, August 11, 2013) that this effect cannot be neglected when modeling the ice sheet as part of a climate study." 


Canadian Arctic - New fractures in centuries-old ice shelf. "The last fully intact ice shelf on northern Ellesmere Island in Canada's Arctic may soon be slipping away. Ice shelves found in the island's North are formed from sea ice and glacier ice and measure some 100 metres thick. While other ice shelves nearby have long since broken up, the Milne ice shelf remained intact blocking the mouth of the Milne Fjord. But this year, scientists have noticed fractures to the Milne ice shelf that indicate it may be reaching the end of its life cycle." Eye on the Arctic 


Snow Dragon Chinese cargo ship sets sail for Arctic short-cut. "A Chinese cargo ship is attempting the country's first ever commercial transit of the Northeast Passage above Russia, as global warming opens a short-cut that promises to reduce shipping times between China and Europe. The Yong Sheng, a 19,000-ton vessel operated by state-owned Cosco Group, set sail on August 8 from Dalian, a port in northeastern China, bound for Rotterdam. According to an announcement on Cosco's website, the journey via the Bering Strait could shave as much as 15 days off the traditional route through the Suez Canal and Mediterranean Sea." CNBC (For further information, please see articles from the China Daily and Siberian Times.)


The (Russian) Arctic is open for business. "In the 1990 thriller The Hunt for Red October, the rogue captain of a Soviet submarine evades the U.S. and Soviet navies by threading his way through a narrow - but precisely charted - mid-ocean trench. In real life, the Soviet navy's charting efforts extended to the heart of the Canadian Arctic. Soviet-era charts, available today, show more russian flag depth soundings in the Northwest Passage than Canada's most recent charts do." The Globe and Mail 


Oil hunger not reason for Barents treaty. "Delimitation agreement with Norway was part of a broader Russian strategy to secure stability in the Arctic, argues researcher Arild Moe as the Nansen Expedition sails through the waters in question." Barents Observer 


A voyage of marine discovery: Young scientists exploring the Arctic. "In 2011, a new and exciting educational project called the Arctic Floating University was founded - an innovative endeavor that allows young Arctic researchers to gain knowledge sailing the northern seas. The concept began in Archangelsk and is now attracting interest from Norway, Finland, Sweden, the United States, Canada and Germany. RBTH took a trip to Archangelsk and met with the third expedition of the Floating University." Russia Beyond the Headlines 


Catching Copepods: Charismatic Microfauna of the Arctic. "Planktonic crustaceans are not charismatic megafauna. Polar bears and walruses, up here in the Russian Arctic, get all the glory. But the little scuttering beasties known as copepods play a hugely important role within the Arctic marine ecosystem, filling a transformational niche near the base of the food web, turning single-cell marine algae and microbial prey into animal flesh by the millions of tons. Some experts consider them 'keystone components.'" National Geographic 


Hip-hop heats up Arctic to preserve language, culture. "More and more attention is being paid to indigenous hip-hop from around the Arctic, especially as it relates to language preservation and cultural pride. The latest group in the spotlight is SlinCraze, a Sami hip-hop group from Norway's Arctic." Alaska Dispatch 


US, Canadian militaries attempt Arctic Ocean ship tow. "As news that more than 200 ships are approved by Russia to travel the Northeast Passage this summer spreads, members of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Canadian Coast Guard tested their ability to respond to the ever-increasing risk of a vessel in distress in Arctic waters last month. Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR as well as the Canadian coast guard ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier met in Port Clarence, testing their ability to collaborate in emergency response efforts and strengthening the relationship between the two services." Alaska Dispatch 


State, DOE map out plan for methane hydrate testing. "State and U.S. Department of Energy officials are working toward on a plan for a long-term production test of methane from hydrates on the North Slope. The state Department of Natural Resources announced July 31 it was setting aside 11 tracts of unleased state lands on the slope for methane hydrate research. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is locked in immense quantities in ice-type formations held in permafrost. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates resources of 84 trillion cubic feet across the North Slope." Alaska Journal of Commerce 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation on Friday. 

Future Events


Arctic Drilling Safety Preparedness and Response: Mitigating Risks in a Tempestuous Environment to Achieve the Rewards of Safely Expanded E&P, August 15-16, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska). "The harsh and unpredictable climate of the Arctic territories has done little to deter the interest in oil and gas exploration. Particularly since it has been reported, "the U.S. Geological Survey estimates 26.6 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 130 trillion cubic feet of natural gas exist below Arctic waters." While the risks are considerable, so is the reward. As a result, there has been a great surge in development plans and permit requests. However, in order to responsibly drill and extract these resources, oil and gas companies must have thorough safety plans in place, while fostering an environmentally conscious approach to operations. This premier marcus evans conference will carefully examine how to assess risks, develop thorough safety plans and culture, quell environmental opposition through accountable actions, prepare a successful response plan and overcome lack of logistical support."

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(Dutch Harbor/Unalaska, Alaska).  The 101st meeting of the US Arctic Research  Commission will be held in Dutch Harbor/Unalaska. The meeting's draft agenda is now available here.


You can also view the 101st Commission Meeting announcement in this entry at the Federal Register.




Alaska Arctic Policy Commission Meeting, August 28-29, 2013 (Unalaska, Alaska). The 3rd meeting of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission will, among other things, continue its mission to positively influence federal Arctic policy. "Toward that end, the Commission will compile a list of all the current federal programs that directly affect Arctic Alaska and Arctic policy, and track and thoroughly investigate each program. These findings will inform the Commission's Final Report."


7th International Workshop on Ice-Drilling Technology, September 9-13, 2013 (Madison, WI). "The event is sponsored by the Ice Drilling Program Office- Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDPO-IDDO), International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS), International Glaciological Society (IGS). Following in the footsteps of the six previous ice drilling technology workshops held between 1974 and 2006, the Seventh International workshop on Ice Drilling Technology will take a comprehensive look a the latest innovations in ice drilling technology, including ice coring, borehole logging, subglacial sampling, core logging and handling, and field logistics."


Arctic Exchange, September 16-17, 2013 (Stockholm). 

"The Exchange brings an evolutionary concept in networking and business information delivery. The concept is designed to meet specific business objectives during two days for promoting cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic communities addressing key issues such as sustainable business development and regional protection. As more and more data has confirmed that the Arctic is extremely rich in oil and gas reserves, locations such as Greenland and the Barents Sea have seen a huge growth in interest from the hydrocarbon industry. Despite the opportunities offered, there are many challenges that may hinder operations. The presence of cold temperatures, ice and a lack of infrastructure pose logistical problems that make exploration expensive and risky." 


The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit, October 8-10, 2013 (Akureyri, Iceland).

 "The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit is a multidisciplinary event expected to draw together several hundred industry officials, scientists, academics, policymakers, energy professionals and community leaders to collaborate and share leading approaches on Arctic energy issues. Building on the work done at the highly successful 2007 Arctic Energy Summit and Technology Conference, the 2013 Summit will address energy extraction, production and transmission in the Arctic as it relates to three thematic areas: richness, resilience and responsibility.  The 2013 Summit will be hosted by the Institute of the North in cooperation with local host Arctic Portal." 


The Inaugural Meeting of The Arctic Circle, October 12-14, 2013 (Reykjavik, Iceland). "The inaugural Arctic Circle will be held October 12-14, 2013. Subsequent Arctic Circle gatherings will be held in a different Arctic location each year, so that participants can become familiar with the challenges, needs and opportunities presented by these unique environments. The agenda for the first Arctic Circle gathering will include plenary sessions with international leaders on emerging topics of interest, such as: Sea ice melt and extreme weather; Security in the Arctic; Fisheries and ecosystem management; Shipping and transportation infrastructure; Arctic Resources; and Tourism."


The 2nd Forum for Arctic Modeling and Observational Synthesis (FAMOS Workshop) "School for Young Arctic Researchers," and "Arctic Scientists Workshop," October 21-25 2013 (Woods Hole, MA) "The Forum for Arctic Ocean Modeling and Observational Synthesis (FAMOS) is an international effort to focus on enhancing collaboration and coordination among arctic marine and sea ice modelers, theoreticians, and observationalists. This collaboration is based on a set of activities starting from generating hypotheses, to planning research including both observations and modeling, and to finalizing analyses synthesizing major results from the field studies and coordinated numerical experiments.  


The major themes of this year's workshop include, but are not limited by studies focused on:

  • Sea ice conditions (drift, thickness and concentration)
  • Atmospheric conditions and circulation regimes
  • Circulation of surface, Pacific and Atlantic water layers
  • State and future of freshwater and heat content
  • Horizontal and vertical mixing
  • Process studies and parameterizations
  • Model validation and calibration
  • Numerical improvements and algorithms
  • Ecosystems, biological issues, and geochemistry"

More info is available at the project's website: 


Workshop: Community Oil Spill Response in Bering and Anadyr Straits, November 7-8, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska). "This workshop will bring together diverse stakeholders to learn more about and respond to community desires to be part of oil spill first-response efforts that help protect food security and other local resources; come to agreement on the multiple roles local community members can play in responding to oil spills; and create an action plan for moving forward on this topic. The workshop is sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society." 


Arctic Cities, Global Processes, and Local Realities, December 2-4, 2013 (Rovaniemi, 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 scientific research and 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."


International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences, May 22-26, 2014 (Prince George, British Columbia). "The International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) announces the 8th International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS VIII).  ICASS is held every three years, bringing together people from all over the world to share ideas about social science research in the Arctic. ICASS VII, held in Akureyri in June 2011, attracted 450 participants from 30 different countries.  ICASS VIII's theme is Northern Sustainabilities. By using the plural, we underscore both that "sustainability" has social, cultural, economic, political and environmental dimensions, and that definitions of the concept vary."

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