Arctic Update Header
October 17, 2013
 
 

Yesterday, the House and Senate passed legislation to fund government operations into January. The same legislation also increased the debt ceiling. The House and Senate will hold sessions today.

 

International Forum on Polar Data Activities in Global Data Systems, October 15-16, 2013 (Tokyo, Japan). "The Forum will cover topics on effective polar data management, including submission of metadata and data, sharing of data to facilitate new interdisciplinary science, and long-term preservation and stewardship of data from a global viewpoint. Presentations on the successes and challenges encountered during IPY will highlight not only the best practices learned but also what must yet be done to ensure the data legacy of IPY. 

Presenters from all scientific disciplines are welcome, and interdisciplinary data management topics are 
especially encouraged. A significant outcome of the Forum will be the development of a new strategy and structure for the Arctic Data Coordination Network under the auspices of the Sustaining Arctic Observing Network (SAON), IASC, and the Arctic Council. Fruitful discussions between the polar data community (SC-ADM, NADC, and SAON) and WDS-oriented contributors on data management issues are expected to give new horizons on data management and to forge interdisciplinary relationships. In particular, a new plan for polar data archives, such as PIC cloud, is expected to be sufficiently promoted."

 

Draft Agenda 

 

 

Media 

 

Shutdown News

 

budget Federal Employees Are Headed Back to Work on Thursday. President Obama late Wednesday was expected to sign into law a bill that reopens the federal government and suspends the debt limit until February 2014. The legislation - which passed the Senate 81-18 and the House 285-144 - would fund the government through Jan. 15, and suspend the debt limit through Feb. 7. It funds most agencies at fiscal 2013 post-sequestration levels, and will allow the Treasury secretary to continue taking extraordinary measures to meet the country's financial obligations. Such measures often include halting daily reinvestment of the government securities (G) fund in the Thrift Savings Plan. Government Executive

 

Shutdown's Science Fallout Could Last for Years. The government may finally be on a path to reopening, but the shutdown's effects will linger for scientists studying everything from climate change to cancer. Antarctica-bound field researchers stuck in limbo over the past three weeks fret that decades of data on penguins and ice sheets will end up with a glaring gap, undercutting their documentation of global warming. Doctors operating federal-funded clinical studies on Alzheimer's, cocaine addiction and heart disease worry they've lost the trust of patients. Politico

 

 

Oil and Gas Development

 

Moving Shale Oil Across Melting Tundra: Huge and Potentially Risky Business. When the sun shines directly on the Hudson Bay Railway (HBR), the tracks can expand, warp and buckle. Trains have to slow down to 9 miles an hour or even stop. Journeys can be delayed for hours. At the northern end of the rail line sits the Port of Churchill. It has been barely used over the years and is accumulating rust and leaking oil from its tank farm while the vast, icy expanse of Hudson Bay slowly melts in the background. E&E News 

 

shell Shell's Spill-Response Training in Remote Alaska Villages a First Step for New Company. An impoverished group of Northwest Alaska villages whose residents hunt walrus and seals to survive have banded together to form a corporation to capitalize on an economic boom on the U.S. side of the Arctic, should that day ever come. Most importantly, the fledgling Bering Sea Alliance wants villagers involved in whatever development occurs so it's done responsibly. That includes being trained to respond to a spill, an increasing possibility with growing numbers of freighters steaming through the 50-mile-wide Bering Strait, gateway to the Arctic Ocean that the seven villages call home. Alaska Dispatch

 

UK Aims to Become Hub for Arctic Oil Exploration. The government wants the UK to be a global centre of expertise in opening up the Arctic to exploration by oil and gas companies, promoting London as a hub of business services for the burgeoning exploitation of the polar regions, according to a Foreign Office strategy published on Thursday. The green light is likely to enrage conservationists, as a group of Greenpeace activists and journalists have been imprisoned in Russia after protesting against fossil fuel exploration in the region. The Guardian

 

russian flag Russia Sees Wrangel Island Oil and Gas Potential; Greenpeace Eyes an Eastern Arctic Front. A remote island off northeast Russia has been swept into that nation's campaign to capitalize on the Arctic's potential for untold oil and gas resources. Long a safe haven for an immense variety of Arctic species, the island hosted the last woolly mammoths to ever walk the earth. The idea that the area could be opened to oil exploration has environmentalists up in arms. The Great Pyramid of Giza and the monolithic monument Stonehenge were already hundreds of years old when woolly mammoths last trod Russia's Wrangel Island. Bone and fossil discoveries show that mammoths persisted there until as recently as 3,700 years ago, taking refuge on the island in a watery, warmer post-Ice Age world. Alaska Dispatch

 

Oil Spill Detection Test in 'Operation Arctic Shield.' Operating aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy, the team deployed a variety of technologies that have been evaluated in temperate climates to assess their ability to perform operations under Arctic conditions. The tests included operation of two small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), a vessel of opportunity skimmer system (VOSS) and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Testing began 9 September 2013, when Healy crew members and the research team deployed two hand-launched UAS. Both UAS demonstrated greater than expected endurance in the cold temperatures, staying aloft for nearly two hours, providing the research team an extended opportunity to evaluate operational capabilities. Hydro International

 

Arctic Shipping

 

600-Foot Dock Slated for Dutch Harbor Will Serve Arctic Petroleum Explorers. Another big industrial development project took a step forward last month, when the Unalaska Planning Commission subdivided a tidelands tract to allow for the eventual construction of a 600-foot-long dock and a large warehouse. The site is adjacent to the property of the applicant, Offshore Systems Inc., next to Northland Services' barge and container yard, and a unique dock that serves as the local home of Shell's oil rig Kulluk. Both the Northland shipping container yard and the oil support site are located on tidelands previously filled in with dumptruck loads of gravel. Alaska Dispatch

 

Cool Arctic Science Helps Ease Northwest Passage. In the storied Canadian North, the landscape is littered with crushed ships and frozen men who dreamed of navigating an Atlantic-to-Pacific route at the top of the world, but fell victim to an unforgiving icy grip that holds fast most every year. But scientists say they can now predict the date when Canada's legendary and deadly Northwest Passage will freeze, providing information that could have a major impact on folks who rely on the Arctic shipping route. The Chronicle Herald 

 

 

Arctic Fish and Wildlife

 

Moose Die-Off Alarms Scientists. Across North America - in places as far-flung as Montana and British Columbia, New Hampshire and Minnesota - moose populations are in steep decline. And no one is sure why. Twenty years ago, Minnesota had two geographically separate moose populations. One of them has virtually disappeared since the 1990s, declining to fewer than 100 from 4,000. New York Times

 

caribou Canada, U.S. Meet to Discuss Caribou Herd. Members of the International Porcupine Caribou Board met last month in Dawson City, Yukon, to discuss the health and future of North America's fifth largest migratory caribou herd. "Obviously we're very pleased that the herd is in good shape," said Barry Smith, the regional director of the Canadian Wildlife Service, Pacific and Yukon Region, from British Columbia last week. "And that we're able to conduct the science to assess the herd like we have in the last two years; that's an important achievement." The Arctic Sounder

 

Counting Elusive Finnish Forest Reindeer in Russian Karelia. Finnish and Russian researchers are teaming up for the first comprehensive population study of the rare Finnish forest reindeer. This threatened reindeer subspecies (Rangifer tarandus fennicus) is found in eastern Finland and northwest Russia. Unlike their smaller, semi-domesticated cousins, the northern reindeer, the forest variety prefers thick woodlands - where they are rarely seen by humans. They wander freely back and forth across the long Russo-Finnish border on a seasonal basis. Alaska Dispatch

 

Opinion: The Washington Post is Wrong About Farmed Salmon. Today the Washington Post ran an article in their Food section lauding advances in the salmon farming industry. Their message? Farmed salmon are a good choice. We're here to set the record straight: farmed salmon are not a sustainable seafood choice, and they're not good for the oceans. If you want to be a responsible seafood eater, therefore, you should not eat farmed salmon. Oceana

 

Wolves More and More Grizzlies and Wolves Moving North to High Arctic. Occasional grizzly bear sightings have been made in the high Arctic for several decades. But what has been a very rare occurrence in the past, is now becoming more common. Polar bears have long posed threats to far northern communities but now that concern is greater because of increasing numbers of grizzlies as well. Some believe that global warming may play a role in the marked increase in grizzlies moving northward.  Typically, they are not as well adapted to the cold as polar bears. There have even been recent cases of hybrid "Grolar" bears, as male grizzlies go out onto the ice pack and mate with female polar bears. Alaska Dispatch

 

Atlantic Rock Crab Increasing Off Iceland. The presence of Atlantic rock crab in the waters off West Iceland has increased in recent years. The only local company currently involved in commercial fishing of the crab is start-up Arctic Seafood. The crab is mostly sold domestically. Dav