Arctic Update Header
September 12, 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."


Amount of Arctic ice is larger than last year's all-time record low. "Sea ice in the Arctic will reach its annual minimum 'any day now,' says Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, which tracks Arctic ice. Although not nearly as ice-free as last September's all-time record low, the amount of Arctic sea ice in the summer of 2013 was well below average, and will likely go in the books as the sixth-smallest 'extent' of Arctic sea ice on record, he says." USA Today


Unprecedented rate and scale of ocean acidification found in the Arctic. "Acidification of the Arctic Ocean is occurring faster than projected according to new findings published in the journal PLOS ONE. The increase in rate is being blamed on rapidly melting sea ice, a process that may have important consequences for health of the Arctic ecosystem. Ocean acidification is the process by which pH levels of seawater decrease due to greater amounts of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the oceans from the atmosphere. Currently oceans absorb about one-fourth of the greenhouse gas. Lower pH levels make water more acidic and lab studies have shown that more acidic water decrease calcification rates in many calcifying organisms, reducing their ability to build shells or skeletons. These changes, in species ranging from corals to shrimp, have the potential to impact species up and down the food web." USGS 


Rescue plans for damaged tanker in Arctic unclear as Russian military flotilla steams by. "It remains unclear from numerous reports whether help is finally on the way for the hobbled Nordvik cruiser, which is currently drifting in the area of the Maitsen Straight, where on September 4, its hull was damaged by ice, threatening to spill tons of diesel fuel into the fragile Arctic ecosystem. The ship's rescue - and the aversion of a possible environmental disaster - would require the assistance of icebreakers to clear its path back to port." Bellona 


Canada builds up arctic maritime surveillance. "Canada is going ahead with plans to keep closer tabs on arctic shipping amid competing claims on the region, especially those from Russia and northern European states. Plans to build and put in orbit a constellation of monitoring satellites mean Canada is set to spend millions on a maritime surveillance program that will include additional tasks of maintaining control on resource development in the arctic region." UPI 

The RADARSAT Constellation shall provide 12 minutes imaging time on average per orbit per satellite, with peak imaging of 20 minutes per orbit per satellite. A significant increase in imaging time for the constellation is possible if more satellites are launched. Analysis is ongoing to determine international imaging requirements and their impact on overall imaging requirements.

S. Korea to launch shipping service on North Pole sea route. "A South Korean shipping company is set to launch a shipping service via a new North Pole shipping route emerged as a result of the melting Arctic sea ice, Yonhap news agency quoted the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries as saying Thursday. A ship of the country's Hyundai Glovis Corporation, carrying 44,000 tons of naphtha, will set sail from Russia's Ust-Luga port on Sunday. It is expected to arrive in South Korea's Gwangyang port in mid-October. The Arctic passage will cut the trip from the South Korea to northern European countries by up to 15 days, compared to 40 days when using the conventional shipping route through the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal." Global Times 


Warm arctic, cold continents: A common pattern related to Arctic sea ice melt, snow advance, and extreme winter weather. "Arctic sea ice was observed to be at a new record minimum in September 2012. Following this summer minimum, northern Eurasia and much of North America experienced severe winter weather during the winter of 2012/2013. A statistical model that used Eurasian snow cover as its main predictor successfully forecast the observed cold winter temperatures. We propose that the large melting of Arctic sea ice may be related to the rapid advance of snow cover, similar to the connection made in studies of past climates between low Arctic sea ice and enhanced continental snowfalls and glacial inception via ice sheet growth." Oceanography 


Arctic development is ramping up: What do we urgently need to know? "Q: Given the receding sea ice in the Arctic, and increased interest in developing its resources, what do we need to know more about? ... Amid all these facets of the transforming Arctic, which of these areas do you think needs the most attention? What should we all be focusing on? Rate the options below and share your thoughts in the comments." National Geographic 


A century of human impact on Arctic climate indicated by new models, historic aerosol data. "The Arctic is the most rapidly warming region of the globe, but warming has not been uniform and the drivers behind this warming not fully understood even during the 20th century. A new study authored by Canadian and American investigators and published in Scientific Reports, a primary research publication from the publishers of Nature, suggests that both anthropogenic and natural factors - specifically sulphate aerosols from industrial activity and volcanic emissions, in addition to greenhouse gas releases from fossil fuel burning - account for Arctic surface temperature variations from 1900 to the present." 


Opinion: Commodifying nature: The price of ice. "A graduate student recently interviewed me for his dissertation on Russia, the Arctic, oil and gas. During the interview, he asked me what I believed was the single most important Arctic resource. The answer could have been oil, gas, minerals, fisheries, or any other number of commodities. I responded that oil and gas are probably the most valuable in dollar amounts based on their current prices and the sheer amount that exists in the Arctic. However, their price could drop significantly if there is a revolution in energy production, such as the whisperings going around about drilling for methane hydrates not just in the Arctic's permafrost, but even in the seafloor in countries almost entirely lacking in conventional oil and gas of their own, like Japan." Eye on the Arctic 


Examining the recent slow-down in global warming. "With upcoming release of IPCC Fifth Assessment Reports beginning late in September, there will be a sharp focus on specific issues like projected sea-level rise but also on broader issues like climate sensitivity and the decade-and-a-half-long slow-down in the rate of overall warming. Let's begin by examining that slow-down in depth, and just what is involved in taking Earth's temperature ..." Yale Climate Media Forum 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.

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 Reykjav