Arctic Update Header
May 21, 2013

  

 

The Senate resumes consideration of a the farm bill. The House will consider six measures under suspension of the rules; three of them relate to veterans

Media
 
 

Coast Guard Seal US Coast Guard to Unveil Arctic Strategy. The U.S. Coast Guard's value to the nation resides in our proven ability to protect those on the sea, protect the United States from threats delivered by sea and protect the sea itself. Our unique authorities, capabilities, competencies and partnerships as a military, law enforcement, regulatory and humanitarian service are central to that value proposition. We are recognized worldwide for our ability to execute these diverse maritime missions over vast geographic areas and under the most challenging and demanding conditions. As we prepare for the future, the emerging maritime frontier of the Arctic is significantly expanding our operating area. US Coast Guard blog 

 

House Advances Maritime Security Bill. The House on Monday passed a bill that would establish definitions and penalties for nuclear terrorism and maritime hijacking to bring U.S. law into compliance with international treaties. Lawmakers advanced the measure (HR 1073) 390-3 under suspension of the rules. Over the last few decades, the United States has entered into several international treaties to improve the security of offshore oil platforms and prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Supporters of the bill have said U.S. law needs to be updated to meet the treaty obligations. Congressional Quarterly

 

Alaska Pushes DC on ANWR Drilling. Alaskan officials are hoping to prod the federal government into measuring the amount of oil and gas beneath the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and are offering state money as part of their plan to push the project forward. "Alaska is willing to help complete the work the federal government seems unwilling to do," Gov. Sean Parnell said via webcast from a Chamber of Commerce event Monday announcing the initiative. Politico 

 

Pavlof Volcano Continues to Erupt; Some Flights Canceled. An Alaska volcano eruption is prompting regional airlines to cancel flights to nearby communities, including a town that reported traces of fallen ash. Pavlof Volcano released ash plumes as high as 22,000 feet over the weekend, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory. Clouds obscured the volcano Monday, but U.S. Geological Survey scientists said seismic instruments at the volcano show continuing tremors. Anchorage Daily News 

 

Do Iliamna Lake Seals Warrant an Endangered Species Listing. Last week, National Marine Fisheries Service officials made the decision to consider listing a harbor seal population in Lake Iliamna as endangered or threatened--yet another piece of wood on the controversial fire that is the Pebble Mine project. In the coming months, the federal agency will continue to review the latest research to make a final decision on the status of the seals. This latest development has sparked a debate between the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pebble Partnership. KTUU 

 

Judge: Salmon Run's Survival Trumps Religious Rights of Alaska Native Fishermen. One by one, Yupik fishermen from along the Kuskokwim River appeared before an Alaska District Court judge here Monday to be judged guilty of violating a state salmon closure nearly a year ago. What began as a hot protest beneath a warm sun last June had 11 months later, with ice still clinging to the Kusko, become a legalistic ritual in which some decided they no longer wanted to take part. Alaska Dispatch 

 

Kulluk Grounding: Shell Oil Testimony Opens Coast Guard Hearing in Anchorage. A subdued Anchorage Assembly chambers turned into a federal courtroom of sorts Monday as members of the U.S. Coast Guard questioned Royal Dutch Shell officials over the grounding of one of its prized Arctic drilling vessels in stormy Gulf of Alaska winter weather. The Coast Guard's formal marine casualty investigation hearings began by recounting events leading to the New Year's Eve grounding of the Kulluk conical drilling unit off the shores of Sitkalidak Island, near Kodiak Island. Alaska Dispatch

 

caribou Caribou Numbers Crash 95% on Canada's Baffin Island. New results from a caribou survey on south Baffin Island confirm what many have been saying: The animals have largely disappeared from the region. The data suggest the population may have declined by more than 95 per cent in the last two decades. Researchers estimate the entire South Baffin population to now be at around 1,000 to 2,000 animals. Estimates from the early 1990s ranged from about 60,000 to 180,000, but this new survey is the first comprehensive count of the animals. Nunavut environment minister James Arreak presented the results in the Nunavut legislative assembly. Alaska Dispatch

 

parnell Alaska Governor Launches Bid to Measure Oil in Arctic Refuge. For decades, war has been waged over the holy grail of America's Arctic frontier, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The wide coastal plain on the edge of the Beaufort Sea contains stunning populations of caribou, grizzly, musk oxen and other wildlife -- and also an abundant pool of oil and gas. While Congress has periodically taken steps to consider opening up oil and gas development in the refuge, President Obama and many congressional Democrats have rebuffed any drilling on what conservationists often call America's Serengeti. LA Times 

 

New Report Urges Action on Arctic Protection. Dartmouth and its partners in the University of the Arctic Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy (IACP) have issued a report urging the adoption of new shipping rules, improved safeguards against oil spills, and the creation of environmental and safety standards in polar waters. The report calls for action by the Arctic Council, the intergovernmental organization for the eight Arctic states - Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States - and encourages the council to expand on the report's recommendations at its May 15 meeting in Sweden. Environmental Research Web 

 

WCS Informs Discussion of Responses to a Changing Arctic. In two critical reports released at the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna, Sweden on May 15th, the scientific expertise of the Wildlife Conservation Society helped inform an international body of senior government officials about changing conditions in the Arctic, and potential responses to those changes. The scientific reports reviewed by the ministers are products of contributions from various experts, representing a range of knowledge and traditions-including indigenous perspectives. Phys.Org 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  

 

No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.

Future Events

   

Private Sector Transportation, Infrastructure, Assets, Response, Capacity, and Development in the Arctic, May 30, 2012, Seattle, WA. A recently-held Arctic transportation workshop in Iceland highlighted the need to better understand private sector transportation infrastructure and assets, recognizing industry's role in the responsible development of resources, response and supportive infrastructure. As a follow-up to its efforts to inventory and map Arctic transportation infrastructure, the Institute of the North is hosting a workshop at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, Washington that focuses on three critical areas: private sector assets and infrastructure in the Arctic, staging areas outside the Arctic that support Northern development, and vessels and technology that are difficult to map but need to be measured for future decision-making. Participants include industry representatives, technical experts, researchers, Coast Guard and other response personnel.

 

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."

 

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.

 

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-