Arctic Update Header
August 13, 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.




Timing a rise in sea level. "Thirty-five years ago, a scientist named John H. Mercer issued a warning. By then it was already becoming clear that human emissions would warm the earth, and Dr. Mercer had begun thinking deeply about the consequences. His paper, in the journal Nature, was titled 'West Antarctic Ice Sheet and CO2 Greenhouse Effect: A Threat of Disaster.' In it, Dr. Mercer pointed out the unusual topography of the ice sheet sitting over the western part of Antarctica. Much of it is below sea level, in a sort of bowl, and he said that a climatic warming could cause the whole thing to degrade rapidly on a geologic time scale, leading to a possible rise in sea level of 16 feet." NY Times 


If the Arctic booms, will Alaska's workforce be ready? "As some of the world's polar nations race to develop the melting Arctic, Alaska isn't doing enough to prepare for the coming jobs. That was a take-home message from the first of several events offered in conjunction with Week of the Arctic, a weeklong discussion looking at the changing region and the 'critical challenges and issues at stake,' according to organizer Institute of the North. One of those challenges is how to prepare for the new jobs that Arctic development will bring during the next 15 years, according to a panel discussion about workforce development that launched the week's events on Monday." Alaska Dispatch 


Editorial: Canada must continue to exercise its sovereignty in the North. "Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who made the Arctic a priority soon after coming to power in 2006, apparently needs to educate others in the federal government about how important the North is to the country's well-being. Harper National Defence advisers have revealed there's too much infighting going on in the civil service and that departments are failing to embrace the Tories' so-called Northern Strategy. Their internal report, which was published last year but just now obtained by Postmedia News, is worrisome." Calgary Herald 


Canadian Forces Op Nanook exercise heads into Nunavut. "Operation Nanook, the Canadian Armed Forces' largest annual training operation in the North, shifted exercises to the Arctic Aug. 10. This year's exercises were scheduled to take place in four regions throughout the North, with four separate scenarios. Soldiers are now on Cornwallis Island in Nunavut's High Arctic for 'scenario 2,' after closing the first one in sub-Arctic Whitehorse, Aug. 9, which involved a simulated wildfire disaster-relief exercise." Nunatsiaq Online 


New Teachers Learn about Native Culture Before School Starts. "Teachers headed to the Northwest Arctic Borough School District spent some time learning Inupiaq language, crafts and culture at a traditional fish camp this summer in preparation for their new jobs. The camp is one of two in the state that's are part of an effort to improve cultural understanding among incoming teachers and to help with teacher retention. And it seems to be working." Alaska Public Media 



China eyeing energy-rich Russian Arctic. "The current international regime in the Arctic affords certain privileges to the countries that have an Arctic coast. A revision of that regime in favour of international bodies could have unwelcome consequences for those countries, especially Russia. For example, if the Arctic territories are given the status of 'common heritage of mankind', such a change would legitimize China's insistent demands to be given a greater role in the North." Russia Beyond the Headlines 


A Deal with the Devil? Arctic drilling war of attrition begins: Part two. "Last week we took a look at the companies interested in Arctic drilling as well as Greenpeace's new anti-Arctic drilling video. This week we will take a look at the potential dangers of Arctic drilling. For starters, the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) cites several Arctic-drilling challenges including long supply lines and limited transportation access from the world's manufacturing centers." Energy Tribune  


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Huge sea ice loss changing entire arctic ecosystem. "The massive loss of sea ice in the arctic is happening so fast that species there cannot possibly evolve fast enough to adapt, says Ian Stirling, an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta and one of the co-authors of a study recently published in the journal Science. As a result, there will be winners and losers in the rapidly changing ecosystem." Eye on the Arctic 


Archaeologists dig Native village site that predates Europeans' Arctic arrival. "On the banks of the Kobuk River near Kiana, the history of a settlement of people who lived in the decades just before the white man first walked onto the shores of Alaska's Arctic has gradually been revealing itself in multiple ways. Archeologists from Brown University have been uncovering a Native village site known as Igliqtiqsiugvigruak over the last two years, and none too soon. The river has been uncovering the site, too, slowly eating away at some remarkable discoveries." Alaska Dispatch 


IMO Secretary-General goes Arctic. "Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization Koji Sekimizu departs on a 5-day Arctic sea voyage with a Russian nuclear icebreaker as part of a fact-finding mission to the region. Sekimizu will be the guest of the Russian Government aboard the nuclear-powered icebreaker '50 years of Victory' as she voyages on the Northern Sea Route. He will commence his voyage on August 15 from the port of Dikson, in the Kara Sea, before undertaking a 1,680 nautical miles trip to Pevek, in the East Siberian Sea." Barents Observer 


russian flag Going Arctic, Rosneft eyes acquisition of Murmansk shipyard. "The state-owned oil company might take over control of the Zvezda yard in the Russian Far East, as well as the Roslyakovo yard outside Murmansk, as part of a government bid to boost Russian offshore capacities. The Russian government is reportedly highly dissatisfied with the way the United Shipbuilding Corporation is developing equipment for the offshore oil and gas industry and considers radical steps to change the situation. According to newspaper Kommersant, Deputy Premier Dmitry Rogozin might establish a new shipbuilding consortium which is headed by Igor Sechin's Rosneft." Barents Observer 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday. 

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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