Arctic Update Header
June 3, 2013

The Senate will consider legislation regarding farm and conservation legislation. The House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules. 


10th International Symposium on Cold Regions Development (ISCORD 2013) (June 2-5, 2013) (Anchorage, Alaska) The International Association for Cold Regions Development Studies (IACORDS) and the Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) will host a conference on "Planning for Sustainable Cold Regions." Special Keynote Sessions each day include "Bridging the Gap Between Climate Change Science and Engineering Practice"; "The Challenges of the Debris from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake in Japan"; and "Energy in Alaska - Current and Future Projects."


Coast Guard Seal A Coast Guard for the Emerging Arctic.
A warming climate is opening the Arctic to greater human activity, and nations with interests in the region are examining the emerging strategic opportunities and challenges. Arctic sea ice receded to record lows in 2007 and 2012, and scientists project ice-free summers within decades. Each of the five littoral Arctic states--Norway, Russia, the United States, Canada, and Denmark (Greenland)--has recently updated its policies with respect to this maritime frontier, assessing the considerable security, environmental, and commercial implications. As one measure of the region's vast economic potential, a 2008 study by the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that about 22 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and natural gas lie above the Arctic Circle. The Council on Foreign Relations

Health Care is Spread Thin on Alaskan Frontier. Americans in some rural places fret at how far away big-city medical help might be in an emergency, or at the long drives they are forced to make for prenatal care, or stitches, or chemotherapy. Dr. Ellen Hodges only wishes it could be so easy.  She oversees health care for a population of 28,000, mostly Alaska Natives, here in the state's far west end, spread out over an area the size of Oregon that has almost no roads. People can travel by boat or snow machine at certain times of the year, but not right now: the Kuskokwim River, which wends through Bethel to the Bering Sea, is choked with unstable melting ice in late May, magnifying the isolation that defines everything in what may be America's emptiest corner. New York Times


North May Be Cut Off as Airports Can't Accommodate Modern Jets Cold War-era Gravel Airstrips Are Inaccessible to Most Modern Aircraft, Writes Bob Weber. Pilots say Canada's Arctic airports are getting so old they are forcing air carriers to downgrade what are often the only links northern communities have to the outside world. And at a conference last week in Ottawa of the world's largest pilots union, the Air Line Pilots Association, delegates heard that proposed new federal regulations could make that situation even worse. "As some of the older generation of twin-en-gined aircraft reach the end of their economic cycle, the newer generation can't be used because the runways can't accommodate them," said Stephen Nourse of the Northern Air Transport Association. "At that point you start to degrade service to some of these communities." Ottawa Citizen 


India Eyes Icebreaker to use in Arctic. India plans to build a $144-million icebreaker to conduct "scientific and business exploration" in the polar regions, reports the The Times of India. That news comes less than a month after India, along with China, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore, were accepted as new observers at the Arctic Council. India's ministry of Earth Sciences is likely to move ahead with the icebreaker by the end of 2013, Shailesh Nayak, secretary in the ministry, told the newspaper. Nunatsiaq Online 


Kirkenes Roll Out the Welcome Mat for Barents Leaders. Top ministers from across the Barents Euro-Arctic Region (BEAR) will descend on northern Norway next week for a meeting 20 years after they first gathered to pledge co-operation in the region. On Tuesday, June 4th, they'll release a second, updated Kirkenes Declaration which will map out the future of collaboration in the area. Although the details aren't yet known, it's expected to build on the original declaration  and flesh out how the four member countries-Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia-plan to work together on things like economic development, infrastructure and environment. Barents Observer 


permafrost Arctic Change on Barents Agenda. Hardly anything illustrates the situation in today's Arctic better than the dynamics of trans shipments along the Northern Sea Route. Melting ice opens up new waters for longer periods than ever before and at unprecedented speed. As our interactive visualization below shows, a total of 46 vessels in 2012 sailed transit along the route. Five years ago, the number was zero. In 2009, two ships, the "Beluga Fraternity" and "Beluga Foresight", made the trans-continental journey. Then, in 2011, the shipments picked pace with as many as 41 vessels. Barents Observer 


Greenland Meeting Highlights Arctic's Growing Importance. The multinational dimension to improving security and military surveillance in the world's vast Arctic region will top the agenda when defense chiefs from the eight leading Arctic nations meet June 11 in Greenland to discuss future challenges. Hosted by Denmark, the two-day meeting will take place in the southwestern town of Ilulissat. Besides Denmark, the meeting will bring together defense chiefs from the US, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. "There is no set agenda for this informal meeting, but the important topics that will be discussed cover air and sea rescue, maritime surveillance, and environmental protection," said Danish Defense Command spokesman Anders Fridberg. Defense News 


Alaskan's Bristol Bay Mine Project: Ground Zero for the Next Big Environmental Fight? A dispute over a proposed copper and gold mine near Alaska's Bristol Bay may be one of the most important environmental decisions of President Obama's second term - yet few are even aware that the fight is happening. At issue is a proposed mining operation in a remote area that is home to several Alaskan native tribes and nearly half of the world's sockeye salmon. Six tribes have asked the Environmental Protection Agency to invoke its powers under the Clean Water Act to block the mine on the grounds that it would harm the region's waterways, fish and wildlife. Washington Post


Papp Papp: No Plans for More Coasties in Arctic. Arctic sea lanes may be staying open longer and traffic in the frigid waters may be increasing, but the Coast Guard's new 10-year plan for Arctic missions won't send more Coasties to the region or establish a year-round presence, the service's top officer said. The service's seasonal, mobile approach has been "tested and proven ... over the last several years," Commandant Adm. Bob Papp said when he released the Coast Guard's Arctic Strategy on May 21. "That will be our approach in the coming decade." Navy Times 


Russian Ship to Carry Out Research and Education Programms in Actic. The Professor Molchanov Russian ship with the Floating University expedition aboard is due to set out from the city of Arkhangelsk later today to carry out a research and education programme. The ship will head from Arkhangelsk to the White Sea to the Barents Sea to the Greenland Sea to Spitsbergen Island to the White Sea and back to Arkhangelsk. Russia & Indian Report


As Polar Ice Recedes, Maine Could Become a Logistical Hub for North America, Says President of Iceland. Maine can take advantage of a "historic shift" happening in global commerce to become a major logistical hub for North America, the president of Iceland said on Friday at an event organized by the Maine International Trade Center. In the last four years, polar ice in the Arctic Ocean has receded to the point where northern shipping routes can be used to reach Asia from the North Atlantic. "We in Iceland and you in Maine and Portland are fortunate to be located in a strategic position that enables us to make use of these extraordinary opportunities," said Olafur Grimsson, president of Iceland, a country of roughly 320,000 people in the North Atlantic. Bangor Daily News 


An Indigenous Voice in the Kirkenes Declaration. "We don't see any point in participating when there's no positive outcomes for the indigenous peoples in the Barents region," Javo says. She would not elaborate on her decision because the text of the declaration will not be made public until Tuesday morning. But Javo's views are not shared by all. In fact, many Sami leaders are praising the soon-to-be announced declaration as good news for the indigenous people of the Barents region. Barents Observer 


Lautenberg Dies at 89. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., died Monday morning at the age of 89, his office confirmed to Roll Call. After struggling for months with his health, Lautenberg - the last World War II veteran in the Senate - died of viral pneumonia. He served from 1982 to 2001, and then again from 2003 to the time of his death. Senator Lautenberg chaired the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security in addition to sitting on many committees and subcommittees with oversight of the Arctic.  Roll Call


Cantor Says Appropriations Bills to Lead Busy Summer Schedule in House. After debating and passing the fiscal 2014 Military Construction-VA and Homeland Security appropriations bills next week, the House will take up the Defense and Agriculture spending measures, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a memo to House members released Friday. "Members should expect a heavy legislative work-period on the floor as we consider a number of bills the House traditionally passes during the summer months," Cantor, R-Va., said in the memo. "We have a busy month ahead of us and July will be just as busy." Congressional Quarterly


budget OMB Asks Agencies to Reduce Budgets 10 Percent in 2015. Kicking off development of the Obama administration's fiscal 2015 budget proposal, the Office of Management and Budget is asking federal agencies to double their proposed cuts in the spending plans they submit to the White House. Compared to last year, when OMB asked departments and agencies to reduce their spending proposals by 5 percent, the office is this year asking for a 10 percent reduction to help meet terms of the 2011 Budget Control Act. Congressional Quarterly


Eroding Arctic Village Meets Water Needs One Day at a Time. With summer sun warming the Arctic coast, residents of Kivalina in Northwest Alaska have made it through their winter of water supply challenges. School let out in May after a year of hard work trying to make up for lost time. Kivalina students missed five weeks of school at the beginning of the year after a fall storm damaged the town's water supply piping and the school's running water was cut off. Alaska Dispatch 


Murkowski Working to Update "Eight Track Era" Chemical Protections for Alaskans. Senator Lisa Murkowski today co-sponsored a major national toxic substance protection bill, in order to protect the health of Alaskans - as well as the state's wilderness, wildlife and waters.  The Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013 is the first update of restrictions and guidelines of consumer products in over 35 years and protects Alaskans from new chemical risks that have arisen in the last generation while still creating an opportunity environment for manufacturers to innovate, grow and create jobs. Senator Lisa Murkowski


New NOAA Report Examines National Oil Pollution Threat from Shipwrecks. NOAA presented to the U.S. Coast Guard today a new report that finds that 36 sunken vessels scattered across the U.S. seafloor could pose an oil pollution threat to the nation's coastal marine resources. Of those, 17 were recommended for further assessment and potential removal of both fuel oil and oil cargo. NOAA 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation Friday.

Future Events


The Science and Stewardship of Coast Hazards Response in Protected Areas, June 7, 2013 (Washington, D.C.). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists in conjunction with Congressman Sam Farr and responders will highlight how they access and interpret science to keep communities safe and commerce moving through a hypothetical California-based scenario, impacting a National Marine Sanctuary, walking participants through each step of the response.  The scenario will cover:  oil spill response, marine debris tracking and removal, early Natural Resource Damage Assessment efforts, information management, and public involvement.  There will be many opportunities for audience engagement and discussion.


workshop for the revision of the 2004 Arctic Marine Strategic Plan; a AMSA II(C)/AMSA II(D)-PSSA bridging workshop; and an ecosystem Approach to Management workshop.


A Top of the World Conference, June 12-13 (Barrow, Alaska). The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission will meet in Barrow.  More information will be available on the new AAPC website: here.


AGU Science Policy Conference, June 24-26, 2013. (Washington, DC)   AGU logo

Hundreds of Earth and space scientists, students, policymakers, and industry professionals will discuss key Earth and space science topics that address challenges to our economy, national security, environment, and public safety. This meeting will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions related to energy, natural hazards, technology and infrastructure, climate, oceans, and the Arctic (see 6/25 forum titled "US Government Investment in Arctic Change Research"). The event is hosted by American Geophysical Union (AGU), a Washington, D. C.-based international nonprofit scientific association.


3rd Cargo Airships for Northern Operations Workshop, July 10-12, 2013. (Anchorage, Alaska). The 3rd airship workshop will follow up the achievements of last year's workshop by focusing on potential approaches and actions for creating incentives that would facilitate the establishment of strong cargo airship business commitments for cargo airship services for customers in Alaska and other Northern areas. Workshop topic areas will look at specific actions that may be initiated.



5th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and icedimArctic Maritime Operations, July 16-18, 2013 (Washington, D.C.). The U.S. National/Naval Ice Center (NIC) and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) co-host this follow-on symposium to address the changing state of Arctic sea ice and associated environmental conditions vis-a-vis emerging or expected naval, maritime, and associated activities and operations in the region. Invited speakers include nationally and internationally recognized experts on Arctic observations, climate change, and maritime operations.


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 sixprevious ice drilling technology workshops held between 1974 and 2006, the Seventh International Workship 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 - one that 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 on offer, 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, (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.


Community Oil Spill Response in Bering and Anadyr Straits, (November 7-8, 2013) (Anchorage, Alaska). This workshop will bring together a diversity of stakeholders to advance a collective dialog 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 research scientific 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.

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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