Arctic Update Header
September 11, 2013

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 six previous ice drilling technology workshops held between 1974 and 2006, the Seventh International workshop 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."


The helicopter crashed near the McClure Strait

Arctic coast guard helicopter crash kills 3. "Canada's Transportation Safety Board is investigating a tragic incident in which three men were killed Monday when the helicopter they were on crashed into the Arctic Ocean. The helicopter was on a reconnaissance mission at the time, travelling with the Amundsen, a coast guard icebreaker. There were no survivors." CBC News


U.S. Ambassador in Alaska says northern nations are scrambling to meet Arctic challenges. "A U.S. ambassador says Arctic Nations are scrambling to meet the challenges posed by ice free arctic waters. On Tuesday, Assistant Secretary David Balton with the U.S. Department of State spoke of the many opportunities and challenges that come with ice free water in the Arctic at an Alaska World Affairs Council luncheon. Balton says oil and gas development and increased shipping hold opportunity for the United States, but also risks to the environment." KTUU 


Chukchi Polar Bear Population Remains Healthy As Ice Coverage Lessens. "The Chukchi Sea has one of the highest rates of sea ice loss in the Arctic, but the polar bears that live there don't appear to be suffering as a result. A new study from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service shows the Chukchi Sea bears are just as healthy as they were 20 years ago. The bears still face a grim long term future, but the new research shows there will be a lot of nuance along the way in how climate change plays out for polar bears in the Arctic." Alaska Public Media 


Rotterdam port welcomes first ship via the Arctic route. "Rotterdam port made history on Tuesday when a Chinese freighter became the first ship to reach it using the Arctic route north of Russia. The 19,000 tonne vessel, the Yong Sheng, set sail from Dalian last week and navigated the route in 35 days. The traditional sea route through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean takes 48 days. The northeast passage north of Russia and through the Bering Straits is becoming more accessible as the polar ice cap melts. As it becomes easier to use this route, shipping costs could dramatically reduce." Dutch News 



Four icebreakers for missile cruiser - none for damaged tanker. "A vessel group consisting of ten different vessels from the Northern Fleet and led by the heavy missile cruiser 'Petr Veliky' yesterday sailed through the Matisen Strait north of the Taymyr Peninsula, the Defense Ministry's web site reads. The group was escorted by no less than four of Atomflot's nuclear-powered icebreakers, among them the two largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world, '50 Let Pobedy' and 'Yamal'. Also the two shallow-water nuclear icebreakers 'Vaygach' and 'Taymyr' were put in to escort the world's largest battlecruiser through the crumbling ice." Barents Observer 


Shell responds to $1.1 million Arctic pollution deal. "Shell's troubled quest for Arctic oil in 2012 - now capped with a $1.1 million fine for environmental violations - will make the company better prepared to return to the region, a spokesman said Friday. 'For 2012 operations offshore Alaska, Shell accepted stringent emission limits that were based on assumptions and modeling,' said company spokesman Curtis Smith. 'Following a season of operations, we now better understand how emissions control equipment actually functions in Arctic conditions.'" Fuel Fix 


In Barents Sea, a string of new oil discoveries. "In less than a week, two oil companies have announced their discoveries of new Barents Sea fields, thus boosting expectations for the Norwegian Arctic waters. The OMV first informed the public about its finding of an estimated 60-160 million barrels of oil, and 10-40 billion cubic meters of gas, at the Wisting Central well. The Lundin company two days later followed up, announcing that it had found a 75 metre oil column at the Goathi prospect." Barents Observer 


Changing Sea Ice: The Ripple Effect
Changing Sea Ice: The Ripple Effect
Video by Radio Canada International journalist, Eilis Quinn.

Anthropologist Lene Kielsen Holm, an Inuk (Inuit) from Greenland, talks about the importance of sea ice in Inuit culture and the effect climate change is having on the traditional way of life in the Arctic.

Arctic-bound: Testing oil spill response technologies aboard an icebreaker. "What's the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions 'the Arctic'? For Zach Winters-Staszak, it's the polar bear. As a mapping specialist for OR&R's Arctic ERMA project, Winters-Staszak has had the opportunity to visit the Arctic communities of Barrow, Wainwright, and Kotzebue, Alaska. On those trips, he has been lucky enough to witness a snowy owl (Barrow's namesake), arctic hare, and caribou. Once, he even hired a local expert to take him on an 'Arctic safari' to see a polar bear; the tracks they found were less than 12 hours old, but the polar bear itself continues to elude him. On his upcoming trip to the Arctic, however, his chances are greatly improved; this time he is headed out to sea." NOAA 


Mathematician uses skills to study Greenland's retreating glaciers (w/ video). "Many outlet glaciers in Greenland feed ice from the land into fjords, where discharge of icebergs and melting of the glaciers by warmer ocean waters contribute to rising sea levels.  David Holland of New York University (NYU) studies what happens in the fjord when ice meets water, how the dynamics at the margin between ice and sea are changing, and what those changes could mean in the future for global sea level rise." 


ESA's Cryosat mission observes continuing Arctic winter ice decline. "The volume of sea ice in the Arctic hit a new low this past winter, according to observations from the European Space Agency's (ESA) Cryosat mission. During March/April - the time of year when marine floes are at their thickest - the radar spacecraft recorded just under 15,000 cu km of ice. In its three years of full operations, Cryosat has witnessed a continuing shrinkage of winter ice volume." BBC News 


Sweden's Arctic space centre sets sights on satellite launches. "More than a thousand research rockets and stratospheric balloons have been launched from the Esrange Space Centre outside Kiruna since it opened in 1966. It's also a control centre for the Galileo Positioning System, the European Union's version of GPS. Because of its location 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, the centre can stay in contact with European satellites around the clock. But almost 50 years after it opened the centre needs some refurbishment and perhaps even a new mission, says Anders Jrle of the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC)." Eye on the Arctic 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


Sen. Murkowski announces passage of Denali Park Improvement Act. "U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today announced that her Denali Park Improvement Act is headed to President Obama's desk to be signed into law. The bill includes three separate measures to reduce the use of diesel fuel, improve energy access in Denali National Park and Preserve, and honor Athabascan climber Walter Harper. The bill, which was advance through the full Senate in June, was passed on the House floor today by voice vote." Senator Murkowsi Website

Future Events


The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit, October 8-10, 2013 (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 Arctic Circle, an open assembly for international cooperation on Arctic issues, will hold its first gathering October 12-14, 2013, at the Harpa Reykjavk Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavk, Iceland. This event will facilitate working meetings across issues and organizations and provide a forum for discussions hosted by different international and Arctic institutions. Agenda topics will include emerging topics of interest, such as sea ice melt and extreme weather, security, fisheries and ecosystem management, shipping and transportation infrastructure, Arctic resources and tourism."

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 


Registration closes September 30.


The 2nd Forum for Arctic Modeling and Observational Synthesis (FAMOS Workshop) "School for Young Arctic Researchers," and "Arctic Scientists Workshop," October 21-25 2013 (Woods Hole, MA). "The Forum for Arctic Ocean Modeling and Observational Synthesis (FAMOS) is an international effort to focus on enhancing collaboration and coordination among arctic marine and sea ice modelers, theoreticians, and observationalists. This collaboration is based on a set of activities starting from generating hypotheses, to planning research including both observations and modeling, and to finalizing analyses synthesizing major results from the field studies and coordinated numerical experiments.  


The major themes of this year's workshop include, but are not limited by studies focused on:

  • Sea ice conditions (drift, thickness and concentration)
  • Atmospheric conditions and circulation regimes
  • Circulation of surface, Pacific and Atlantic water layers
  • State and future of freshwater and heat content
  • Horizontal and vertical mixing
  • Process studies and parameterizations
  • Model validation and calibration
  • Numerical improvements and algorithms
  • Ecosystems, biological issues, and geochemistry"

More info is available at the project's website: 


17th Sitka WhaleFest: "Arctic Sea Change: What's Ahead?" October 31 - November 3, 2013, (Sitka, Alaska).
 "Sitka WhaleFest presents a unique science symposium blending local knowledge and scientific inquiry concerning the rich marine environment of our northern oceans. Surrounded by community and cultural activities, the weekend events include symposium lectures, interactive student sessions, marine wildlife cruises with scientists, a marine-themed artisan market, music, local foods, student art show, and a fun run/walk."


"The Arctic is changing. This is an indisputable fact. How the people and animals who depend upon the Arctic will adapt to change is an open question. How will narwhals and polar bears cope with less summer ice? Bowhead whales may have their world rocked when humpbacks, fins and other baleen whales begin - they already are - feeding in their backyard. The resource users of the Arctic will need to make adjustments and changes to live in this new world. Who will be the sea winners and sea losers? These are questions we will discuss with the experts who are passionate about the Arctic."

Workshop: Community Oil Spill Response in Bering and Anadyr Straits, November 7-8, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska). "This workshop will bring together diverse stakeholders 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." 


Maritime & Arctic Security Conference (MAS13), November 12-13, 2013 (St. John's, NL, Canada). "For decades the Arctic has received increasing attention from the international community related to factors/considerations such as environmental, geopolitical, strategic, and security. More recently with shrinking Arctic ice leading to the pursuance of off-shore resources and the

opening of northern shipping routes, over a relatively short period of time we are seeing maritime security considerations start to blend with arctic security." 


"With a focus on Economic Development, Security and Public Safety, MAS13 will bring together organizations that play a key role in the execution of Maritime & Arctic Security: whether that role be Cultural, Research, Government Policy/Regulation, Education, Surveillance, Enforcement, and Technology Development/Application." 


Full Conference Agenda 

Alaska Water and Sewer Challenge Request for Proposals Released August 15.  The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Village Safe Water announces a research and development effort to seek better and more affordable methods to deliver drinking water and sewage disposal services to communities in rural Alaska. The three-month long, international solicitation calls for individuals from a variety of diverse fields - engineering, science and research, behavioral science, and innovative design - to organize as teams and submit Statements of Qualifications. Up to six of the top ranked teams will be funded to develop proposals over a six month period next year. Future phases of the project include building prototypes and testing them in lab and field settings. 


For more information about the project please: 



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 scientific research and 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."


International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences, May 22-26, 2014 (Prince George, British Columbia). "The International Arctic Social 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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