Arctic Update Header
August 5, 2013
The House of Representatives and the Senate have begun their annual August recess. They will reconvene in early September.

North Slope Science Initiative: Request for Assistance "Scenario Planning for Energy and Resource Development on the North Slope" is now available at Grants.govThe RFA is announced as Opportunity No. L13AS00170 and is open until August 23, 2013. You can also download the RFA here.


"Effective decisions about research and monitoring programs (in academia, as well as in government) are most effective when based on plausible future social-ecological system expectations.  The future of Arctic America is difficult to accurately predict, particularly in an era of intense global energy development pressures and rapid climate warming, but it will surely be characterized by highly consequential and unprecedented changes.  Scenario planning is an effective tool in situations of high uncertainty and significant decision impacts.  The North Slope Science Initiative (NSSI) will be partnering with the award recipient university personnel to use scenario planning to systematically assess of a range of energy and resource extraction development scenarios for the North Slope and adjacent seas through 2040 in a manner that will contribute to our mutual understanding of the potential future state of the social-ecological systems of the North Slope and adjacent seas."


Note: only institutions of higher education under the Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Units (CESU), Joint Venue Venture Agreement, may respond to this opportunity.




Monumental effort to map Alaska shorelines nearing completion. "It's taken more than a decade and millions of images, but the photo-mapping of Alaska's varied and lengthy coastline is getting ever-closer to the end goal. And with the completion of remote St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea last week, ShoreZone, the Canadian company spearheading the campaign, is one giant step closer." Alaska Dispatch 


Coast Guard honors Fran Ulmer at ceremony. "Former Lt. Governor and current chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission Fran Ulmer Saturday received a Coast Guard District 17 coin from the district commander, Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, in honor of the work Ulmer has done on behalf of the Coast Guard and the Arctic region in general. Ostebo made the award at the close of the 399-foot heavy icebreaker Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star's Juneau visit, a day that featured public tours and a private reception." Juneau Empire 


State not happy with federal rejection of ANWR exploration plan. "The Regional Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's rejection of Alaska's exploration plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge did not sit easy with the state, which announced this week it will seek reconsideration. The state sought a special use permit for exploration to evaluate the petroleum potential of the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, citing a permit the state said never expired." Alaska Dispatch 


Archaeologists uncover pre-contact Inupiat village near Kiana, Alaska. "A team of archaeologists from Brown University have uncovered a Native village site in Northwest Alaska that dates from just before first contact. The village is one of the biggest archaeological sites discovered in the Arctic. Local residents hope the research will tell them more about their ancestors." Eye on the Arctic 


Conference Board: it's time for more investment in northern telecoms. "It's time for governments and other players to invest in the renewal of northern Canada's telecommunications system, the Conference Board of Canada's Centre for the North said in a report released July 29. 'The Arctic in particular, from Yukon to Nunavik, has experienced multiple systemic failures in critical 21st-century communications infrastructure, including terrestrial and satellite facilities,' authors Adam Fiser and Anja Jeffrey wrote in the report." Nunatsiaq Online 


Greenland experiences 'record high' temperatures. "The new record, 25.9C (78.6F), was measured at Maniitoq Mittarfia near Baffin Bay on the west coast. The previous high was 25.5C (77.9F) at Kangerlussuaq in July 1990, with records dating back to 1958. Scientists have previously calculated that if the annual average temperature in Greenland increases by 3C (5.4F), its ice sheet will begin to melt at an abnormal and potentially catastrophic rate." Blue and Green Tomorrow 


caribou Compass: Protect caribou, oppose drilling in ANWR's coastal plain. "Since time immemorial the Gwich'in Nation has been reliant upon the Porcupine Caribou Herd whose birthing and calving grounds are on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In the Gwich'in language this place is referred to as 'Iizhik Gwat'san Gwandaii Goodlit' or 'The Sacred Place Where Life Begins.' Currently, the herd's population is close to 179,000 and every summer up to 40,000 calves are born on the coastal plain of the refuge. That is a significant number of animals and there are many special reasons why for thousands of years the Porcupine caribou have chosen to return to the coastal plain to give birth and nurse their young. The coastal plain, nestled between the Arctic Ocean to the North and the Brooks Range to the south, provides shelter from predators, relief from insects, and the tundra provides the nutrient rich plants that the caribou must have in order to nurse their young and survive the harsh winters of the Arctic." Anchorage Daily News 


US, Canada conduct Bering Strait spill drill. "In a signal of increasing concerns over Arctic shipping, U.S. and Canadian coast guard vessels have conducted their first joint Arctic offshore oil spill drill near the Bering Strait. Two days of test of vessels and equipment were scheduled at Port Clarence, a protected bay near the strait, although poor weather limited actual deployment of spill gear to one day, said Coast Guard spokesman Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow."Anchorage Daily News 


Rapping to preserve a nearly extinct Arctic language. "Nils Rune Utsi is the founding member of Slincraze, a rap group from Maze, a village in northern Norway. They rap in Sami, a language spoken by less than 20,000 people. Their goal is to save their language and culture and to fight 

stereotypes about the people of the region. The BBC caught up with Utsi in New York City. He discussed his love of music, his creative process, and why rap could save his region's ancient cultures and traditions." BBC News 


Miserable weather means few walrus for hunters in remote Alaska.

Miserable weather and thick, almost unnavigable sea ice have led to a walrus shortage on remote St. Lawrence Island. Savoonga and Gambell, the two villages on the island located smack dab in the middle of the Bering Strait, took in a paltry 184 walrus, or less than 20 percent of their 10-year average. The two communities typically bring in more than 1,200 walruses. Alaska Dispatch 


On return trek from the Arctic, heavy ice breaker stops in Juneau. "Docks in downtown Juneau are usually reserved for cruise ships in the summer time, but on Friday evening one of the two U.S. Coast Guard polar class heavy icebreakers cruised the Gastineau Channel and tied up at AJ Dock just behind the Carnival Miracle. The 399-foot long, 83-foot wide Polar Star lowered its gangway on Saturday afternoon for public tours, allowing hundreds of locals to explore the ship's bridge, flight deck and hangar." Juneau Empire 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation Friday. 

Future Events

"2013  Environmental Intelligence in Maritime: Preparedness for Arctic Drilling," August 8, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska). "While Alaska remains the land of opportunity for oil and gas reserves, the challenges to access its vast reserves persist. Join NAMEPA to discuss what industry, regulators and environmental groups are doing to realize the potential of the region."
Invited speakers include Representative Don Young and Chair of the US Arctic Research Commission Fran Ulmer.

"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."

logo with background (Dutch Harbor/Unalaska, Alaska). The 101st meeting of the US Arctic Research  Commission will be held in Dutch Harbor/Unalaska. A meeting agenda is now posted on the USARC website,


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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