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August 20, 2013


The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Village Safe Water announces a research and development effort to seek better and more affordable methods to deliver drinking water and sewage disposal services to communities in rural Alaska. The three-month long, international solicitation calls for individuals from a variety of diverse fields - engineering, science and research, behavioral science, and innovative design - to organize as teams and submit Statements of Qualifications. Up to six of the top ranked teams will be funded to develop proposals over a six month period next year. Future phases of the project include building prototypes and testing them in lab and field settings. 
For more information about the project please: 


Ship travels Arctic from China to Europe. "China's Yong Sheng is an unremarkable ship that is about to make history. It is the first container-transporting vessel to sail to Europe from China through the Arctic rather than taking the usual southerly route through the Suez Canal, shaving two weeks off the regular travel time in the process." Wall Street Journal 


The Arctic's Northern Sea Route - interactive graphic. 


Has mystery illness in Alaska seals run its course? "The first of Alaska's sick seals began to appear in summer 2011. Mostly ringed seals, covered in lesions, were being discovered hauled out on Arctic shorelines. The ones still living were lethargic, and in some cases already dead. Two Rosa years later, fewer and fewer cases are being documented, and at least one Alaska researcher believes the fatal illness may have run its course. But scientists are still unsure what caused  the unusual mortality event among Arctic pinnipeds. 'They've done all the viral tests, all the bacterial, they've looked into radioactivity, and they've come up with a garden variety of things that are typically found in animals that are sick, but nothing that was a smoking gun,' said Cheryl Rosa, a doctor of veterinary medicine and deputy director of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission's Alaska office, at a public event in Anchorage hosted by Institute of the North last week. 'And that's like the most unsatisfying thing for the public to hear, and especially for the subsistence public to hear.'" Alaska Dispatch 


Cruise to weigh Arctic drilling risks. "An ambitious attempt to learn more about what is happening to the Arctic sea ice is getting under way with the start of a two-week research cruise to the waters off the north-eastern coast of Greenland. The scientists will measure a range of parameters of the sea ice, icebergs and how they interact with their ship, the Swedish polar icebreaker Oden. The voyage, coming at the end of the northern hemisphere summer, coincides with the lowest levels of ice in the Arctic." Guardian 


NASA | From the Cockpit: The Best of IceBridge Arctic '13
NASA | From the Cockpit: The Best of IceBridge Arctic '13


arcticcouncil Greenland ends boycott, returns to the Arctic Council. "Greenland is stronger, thanks to its boycott of the Arctic Council, Aleqa Hammond, the premier of Greenland, said Aug. 19, as she announced that Greenland plans to resume its participation in the Arctic Council. Hammond decided to boycott the May 15 Arctic Council ministerial gathering in Kiruna, Sweden because she said Greenland should have a voting seat at the council, rather than sitting, in a non-voting capacity, behind the Danish foreign minister." Nunatsiaq Online 


Company surveys Arctic fibre optic cable route. "Arctic Fibre, the company promising to bring faster and more reliable broadband internet to Nunavut, plans to visit seven communities this week. The company is proposing to run underwater fibre optic cable from Tokyo to London. The cable would branch off to serve Nunavut communities and potentially mine sites in Nunavik. The project is expected to cost $620 million." CBC News 


Opinion: Harper's Arctic evolution. "This week, on his eighth annual northern tour, Stephen Harper continues to stake his claim as Canada's most Arctic-minded prime minister. There will be displays of the military's Arctic capabilities, announcements (at least recycled ones) of federal investments for the region and reiteration of commitment to the government's 'northern strategy' and its four pillars: exercising sovereignty, protecting the environment, devolving Northern governance and promoting social and economic development. The 


words sovereignty and development will flow freely, packaged in a celebration of Arctic opportunities and Conservative advances to seize them." Globe and Mail 


Canada falling behind Arctic rival Russia as PM begins northern visit. "Prime Minister Stephen Harper landed in Whitehorse on Sunday for his eighth annual tour of the north. The six day trip will include stops in Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Northern Quebec. In the past, Harper has used these trips to assert Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic; lately, it seems to be on economic development. On both counts, however, it appears that Canada is falling far behind at least one of its Arctic rivals, Russia." Yahoo Canada 


Military encouraged to employ green policies in the Arctic. "Canada's military has been urged to go green in the Great White North. A group of Defence Department advisers has concluded that the spread of renewable energy, electric vehicles and new sewage-treatment technologies in the Arctic will go a long way to bolstering the military's activities and presence in the region. For that reason, the Defence Science Advisory Board has recommended the Department of National Defence work with northern communities, energy companies and territorial governments to spread these innovations for the benefit of all parties." Leader-Post 


Coast Guard Seal Coast Guard Commandant talks Arctic strategy in Unalaska. "The highest ranking leader in the United States Coast Guard stopped into Unalaska today to talk about Arctic strategy. Commandant Admiral Robert Papp hosted a town hall meeting with city officials and leaders from the local Native corporation. It was the first time a sitting commandant has visited Unalaska." KUCB 


Arctic warming and our extreme weather: no clear link new study finds. "Is the dramatic decline of Arctic sea ice, spurred by man-made global warming, making the weather where we live more extreme? Several recent studies have made this claim. But a new study finds little evidence to support the idea that the plummeting Arctic sea ice has meaningfully changed our weather patterns. The research, published today in Geophysical Research Letters, says links between declining Arctic sea ice and extreme weather are 'an artifact of the methodology' and not real." Washington Post 

Arctic sea ice minimum 1980 vs. 2012 (NASA)


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski have introduced S.1474, the Alaska Safe Families and Villages Act of 2013. This legislation attempts to address and remedy the fact that residents of remote Alaska villages suffer disproportionately from crimes and civil disturbances rooted in alcohol abuse, illicit drug use, suicide, and domestic violence. S.1474 would establish the Alaska Safe Families and Villages Self Governance Program, which would make grants to Indian Tribes who align their criminal and drug enforcement policies with those of state agencies.

Begich, Murkowski Bill Tackles Domestic Violence in Rural Alaska. Senators Begich/Murkowski Joint Press Release 


Federal bill takes aim at drug, alcohol-fueled ills of rural Alaska. Alaska Dispatch  

Future Events

logo with background(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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