Arctic Update Header
May 28, 2013

The House and Senate are in recess until June 3rd.



Morning Briefing: Help for Sequestered Agencies. The House and Senate are on their Memorial Day breaks, but some lawmakers are staying busy plotting next steps in the budget and immigration debates. Proposals circulating among senators would give federal agencies added flexibility to cope with the effects of mandatory spending cuts under the sequester. And lawmakers are already lining up with amendments for when the Senate takes up a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws the week of June 10. Congressional Quarterly


Coast Guard Seal Coast Guard's Commander Nears Year on New Job. Throughout his two-decade-long career in the Coast Guard, Cpt. Paul Mehler III has traveled throughout the country and the world. Now, he can add Alaska to his list. Anchorage Daily News


Caribou Meat Marketed on Internet May Be Depleting Canadian Herds. Wildlife managers in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of  Nunavut are worried the growing online market for caribou meat may put extra stress on some caribou populations. Some Nunavut hunters have been selling caribou through Facebook, and shipping it to other communities. Alaska Dispatch


shell Questions Raised Over Why Shell Didn't Anticipate Big Storm. On their interrupted December voyage, Shell's Kulluk drilling rig and its tow ship, the Aiviq, experienced a terrible trifecta of bad weather, failed tow gear and the temporary loss of all four engines on the Aiviq. Shouldn't Royal Dutch Shell and its contractor have accounted for that possibility? That angle was pursued Friday during Day 5 of a Coast Guard marine casualty hearing into the Dec. 31 grounding of the Kulluk by Barry Strauch, the National Transportation Safety Board representative on the Coast Guard panel. Anchorage Daily News


Four-Hundred-Year-Old Moss Frozen in Little Ice Age Revived in Groundbreaking Experiment. In the long Arctic summers, Catherine La Farge camps out at the toe of the Teardrop glacier on Ellesmere Island in Canada's far north. The University of Alberta biologist has watched the ice retreat - up to four metres a year now - giving her an unprecedented view of what was entombed under the ice for 400 years. She's seeing old rocks, mud, and her specialty, ancient moss. One day, walking along the edge of the ice, La Farge noticed some of the moss had a greenish tinge. That gave her a hunch - could there be life in that old moss after all? National Post


Study Explores Atmospheric Impact of Declining Arctic Sea Ice. There is growing recognition that reductions in Arctic sea ice levels will influence patterns of atmospheric circulation both within and beyond the Arctic. New research in the International Journal of Climatology explores the impact of 2007 ice conditions, the second lowest Arctic sea ice extent in the satellite era, on atmospheric circulation and surface temperatures. Science Daily


Geoengineering: Our Last Hope, or a False Promise [Op-Ed]. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere recently surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time in three million years. If you are not frightened by this fact, then you are ignoring or denying science.  Relentlessly rising greenhouse-gas emissions, and the fear that the earth might enter a climate emergency from which there would be no return, have prompted many climate scientists to conclude that we urgently need a Plan B: geoengineering. New York Times


russian flag Russia to Build Four Coast Guard Ships in Arctic by 2020. Eleven border infrastructure facilities will be deployed in the Arctic before 2020, deputy head of the Border Service of the Russian Federal Security Service Col. Gen. Nikolai Rybalkin told reporters. "The deployment is being done in line with the federal target program for 2012-2020," the general said. "Development of border infrastructure is a mandatory condition of border security. Whenever border infrastructure is deficient, it is necessary to enlarge the staff, numbers of men, and this puts an additional strain on the budget," Rybalkin said. "Shipbuilding priorities of the FSB Coast Guard have been determined in light of the Arctic objectives. Four ships will be built for the Arctic zone before 2020." Russia Beyond the Headlines


Russia to Breathe Life into Deserted Arctic Port. Citing General Director of Liinakhamari Port Management Company Sergey Kudrintsky, Barents Observer reports that negotiations with potential investors are under way. The port in the Russian Arctic will have an annual capacity of 15 million tons of oil and 4 million tons of fertilizer. The port of Liinakhamari in the outlet of the Pechenga fjord has lain more or less idle since the Coast Guard moved its vessels out of the area a few years back. The fjord is used for salmon farming. MarineLink


US, Canada, EU, Sign Atlantic Ocean Research Accord. The alliance will build on existing bilateral cooperation agreements and projects with the aim of developing and advancing a shared vision for the Atlantic. For the European Union, the Statement was signed by European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science M