Arctic Update Header
August 6, 2013
The House of Representatives and the Senate have begun their annual August recess. They will reconvene in early September.


OMB-OSTP Memo on Science and Technology Priorities for the FY 2015 Budget.   The White House's Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy released a memo detailing the science and technology priorities for the administration's agencies' Fiscal Year 2015 budgets. The memo stresses an Arctic research issue, the link between Arctic sea ice and mid-latitude climate. Memo


International Journal of Circumpolar Health, Supplement. This free journal includes nearly 100 full length papers, 90 extended abstracts and nearly 100 short abstracts specializing in Arctic and Antarctic health issues. The IJCH "provides a forum for many disciplines, including the biomedical sciences, social sciences, and humanities as they relate to human health in high latitude environments." International Journal of Circumpolar Health  

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OPINION: Lawsuit ignores compromist on CD-5, by Edward Itta. "The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) loves animals. They also love lawsuits. They want to protect animals in every corner of America, so they try to build fences out  of lawsuits to keep people away. I admire their dedication, because I care about animals too. Bowhead whale, caribou, seals, ducks, whitefish, Inupiat - we're all products of the same Arctic environment. The Inupiat subsistence culture depends on other species' survival, so we're careful. We adjust to their needs; we adapt to conditions around us. Arctic Sounder



Highly promising Kara Sea. "Seismic studies conducted in the northern parts of the Kara Sea show that the area has a 'highly promising' hydrocarbon potential, the PGS company informs. According to the company, which since 2012 has conducted more than 8,800 line km of 2D data in the Barents Sea and Kara Sea, the Kara Plate has strong resemblance with the Timan-Pechora Plate, one of the leading oil producing regions in Russia. 'Even at this early stage of exploration maturity, it is obvious that the area is quite promising relative to other prospects on the Russian Arctic Shelf and there are strong indications of oil dominance in hydrocarbon presence', the company informs in a press release." Barents Observer 


shell Shell wins ruling on Arctic oil spill plans. "Royal Dutch Shell's oil spill plans for drilling in Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas don't violate environmental laws, a federal judge in Anchorage ruled in rejecting a challenge by conservation groups. The U.S. Interior Department's approval process wasn't flawed or based on erroneous assumptions and the approvals don't violate the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws, U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline ruled Monday." FuelFix 


Alaska North Slope crude squeezed at refineries as shale oil flows west. "Will the Midwest oil boom squeeze Alaska North Slope crude out of its West Coast refineries, forcing down its price and one day causing the oil industry to consider exporting the state's most important resource overseas? Key industry observers from Alaska don't seem especially worried -- despite plans for increased shipments of Bakken crude to the West Coast by rail, and despite the fact that some Alaska oil has already been bumped from one refinery, while other refineries gear up to take the Midwest oil." Alaska Dispatch


Through the Laptev Sea without icebreaker. "After a warm July the extent of sea ice large parts of the Northern Sea Route is below average and vessels are sailing parts of the route without icebreaker escort." Barents Observer 


Radical new icebreaker will travel through the ice sideways. "Given that icebreakers clear a path for other ships by traveling through the ice head-on (or sometimes butt-on), then in order for one of them to clear a wider path, it would have to be wider and thus larger overall ... right? Well, Finland's Arctech Helsinki Shipyard is taking a different, more efficient approach. It's in the process of building an asymmetric-hulled icebreaker that can increase its frontal area, by making its way through the ice at an angle of up to 30 degrees. Arctech refers to the ship as 'Icebreaking rescue vessel NB 508,' although according to a report in New Scientist, it's also known as the Baltika. It's being built for the Russian Ministry of Transport, and will be used not only for icebreaking, but also for rescue and oil spill cleanup duties in the Gulf of Finland." Gizmag 


Arctic ice grows darker and less reflective. "Arctic ice is losing its reflective sheen. It's common knowledge that each summer, more and more of the ice melts leaving the dark waters of the ocean uncovered - a process that accelerates global warming by reducing the amount of solar radiation reflected back into space. Now it turns out that the surviving sea ice is also becoming darker and less reflective. For the first time, a detailed analysis of 30 years of satellite data for the Arctic Ocean has quantified how much the albedo, or reflectivity, of Arctic ice is diminishing. Aku Riihela of the Finnish Meteorological Institute told New Scientist he estimates that darker ice means the Arctic Ocean's albedo at the end of the summer is of the order of 15 per cent weaker today than it was 30 years ago." New Scientist 


Oil Drilling in Alaska A Deal with the Devil? Arctic Drilling War of Attrition Begins Part One. "As an energy journalist and oil industry investor and one that has delighted at the recent US shale boom coming after decades of OPEC oligopoly, I nonetheless felt a tinge of guilt watching the video clip. After all, I am a drill-baby-drill proponent, though I'm not oblivious to the fact that hydrocarbon usage has impacted the environment, it's just the contradictory science explaining its affects that bothers me." Energy Tribune 


Nunavut's Feeding My Family calls for Aug. 15 food price protest. "A year after groups of demonstrators last marched with placards outside Nunavut stores to protest against high food prices, the Feeding My Family group plans to hold what they describe as 'another peaceful protest against the high cost of food in the Canadian North.' The protest is planned for 5:00 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Northmart store in Iqaluit and at other stores in communities across the territory." Nunatsiaq Online 


Greenland inspires Arctic Bay, Canada tourism strategy. "Arctic Bay is a predominantly Inuit community of around 800 people is located in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. It has stunning scenery, provides a window into Inuit culture, and has wildlife ranging from whales to polar bears. But developing and growing the tourism industry in such remote northern communities presents challenges." Alaska Dispatch 


AK Beat. "The Alaska Permanent Fund -- the pot of money from which annual dividends are paid -- grew 10.5 percent last year, reaching a new high of $44.9 billion. Growth is attributed to the performance of the U.S. stock market. But don't expect a big dividend check this year as a result." Alaska Dispatch 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


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

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."
**New this Week**
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."

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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