Arctic Update Header
July 24, 2013

Both the House of Representatives (Defense) and the Senate (Transportation and Housing and Urban Development) will continue to work through appropriations bills. An updated short summary is available at The Hill.

Coast Guard Seal USCG: Meeting Arctic missions. "As the nation's lead federal agency for ensuring maritime safety and security in the Arctic, the Coast Guard will perform its statutory missions to ensure the Arctic remains a safe, secure and environmentally protected region. After a successful Arctic Shield 2012 operation on the North Slope and Barrow, Arctic Shield 2013 focuses on Western Alaska and the Bering Strait. This year's operation will continue the three-pronged approach of outreach, operations and capability assessments." Marine Link


Shipping through Russian Arctic has quadrupled in past year. "For years people have been speculating that the melting of Arctic sea ice due to climate change would open new shipping lanes. In fact, it's happening now. The Financial Times reports that, as of last week, 204 ships had received permits this year to ply the Northern Sea Route, which connects East Asia to Europe via the waters off of Russia's northern coast. Last year, just 46 vessels made the trip. Two years ago, the number was four." Anchorage Daily News


In lieu of drilling, Shell maps Chukchi seafloor. "Shell Oil is still doing work in the Alaskan Arctic this summer, despite cancelling its drilling season in the wake of disasters that left both its rigs inoperable. As KTUU-TV first reported, the company is mapping the Chukchi seafloor for ice gouges -- distinctive markings left by massive chunks of ice scraping across the bottom of the ocean. Knowing the location of ice gouges and their depth is important if Shell ever wants to build a pipeline from its oil prospects to shore."


Arctic thawing could cost the world $60tn, scientists say. "Rapid thawing of the Arctic could trigger a catastrophic 'economic timebomb' which would cost trillions of dollars and undermine the global financial system, say a group of economists and polar scientists. Governments and industry have expected the widespread warming of the Arctic region in the past 20 years to be an economic boon, allowing the exploitation of new gas and oilfields and enabling shipping to travel faster between Europe and Asia. But the release of a single giant 'pulse' of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian sea 'could come with a $60tn [