Arctic Update Header
September 3, 2013

 

President Barack Obama will leave for Stockholm, Sweden tonight to visit the Arctic nation before heading to Russia for the G-20 summit. The House of Representatives and the Senate begin their last week of recess before returning September 9. 

 

Media   

 

State panel debates Arctic policy in Unalaska. "The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission has a big mandate -- to figure out what kind of Arctic policy the state should have. ...[T]hey inched toward that goal during a meeting in Unalaska this past week. By February, the commission is supposed to come up with a set of recommendations for the Alaska legislature, which should help them write an Arctic policy for the state." KUCB 

 

Interior All of the above: Interior Department's policy should advance Arctic strategy. "Interior Secretary Sally Jewell heads to the North Slope today to see firsthand where a large portion of the nation's domestic oil production comes from. It's not what it used to be, however, and the nation's new Interior secretary needs to see the potential herself. Much of the North Slope is, of course, outside the jurisdiction of the federal government. But there are large areas over which the federal government does have authority that should be developed, chief among them the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge." Fairbanks News-Miner 

 

Yong Sheng: Why Arctic voyage of Chinese cargo ship is business as usual. "Much is being made of the voyage of the Yong Sheng, a Chinese cargo ship slowly making its way across the top of Russia and Europe toward its eventual destination, the Dutch port of Rotterdam. If the ship successfully reaches port, it will become the first commercial Chinese ship to transit the Northern Sea Route, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by way of the Bering Strait and Russia's northern coast...Dr. Lawson Brigham, an Arctic shipping and policy expert and distinguished professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks [and USARC advisor], warned that the trip of the Yong Sheng is not particularly unique, despite the PR blitz that seems to be surrounding the vessel's voyage." Alaska Dispatch 

 

New traffic monitoring system for Arctic. "The Swedish Maritime Administration is testing a new tracking system for maritime traffic in the Arctic. The test is part of the icebreaker Odin's Arctic expedition, linked to the dramatic rise of maritime traffic in the region leading to greater concern for safety and environmental protection. The Arctic is one of the world's most environmentally sensitive areas, while also being one of the most difficult to protect against accidents. Thus, the need to support the maritime industry is crucial in guaranteeing safety for navigation and the environment. The Swedish Maritime Administration is now testing a new system for monitoring maritime traffic that will improve the potential for sea rescue, icebreaker assistance and environmental protection." Maritime Journal 

 

Ottawa's Arctic port plan mired in delays. "One of the crown jewels in the federal government's Arctic strategy is mired in a slow-moving environmental clean-up and the threat of legal action, federal documents reveal. The deep-water port at Nanisivik, Nunavut, remains under the control the federal fisheries department six years after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the creation of a naval refuelling station high in the northern archipelago." CBC News 

 

Harper Canadian PM's Arctic tour conceals shift in circumpolar politics. "In the midst of the hoopla for Stephen Harper's 8th annual Arctic trip this year, two extremely interesting things took place, and neither of them involves an honorary Canadian Ranger status. The first is that, with very little fuss, the Russians (!) were invited to observe this year's Operation Nanook... This is Arctic defence diplomacy in full swing." Arctic Dispatch 

 

Tribal leaders discuss impact of suicide in Alaska Native communities. "Tears were shed, vows were made and stories shared as dozens of tribal leaders and villagers gathered in Anchorage last week for the 13th Alaska Tribal Leaders Summit. This particular gathering focused on suicide. And over two days, there was much discussion on the causes, and possible solutions, to the loss of life happening statewide, particularly amongst Alaska Natives." Alaska Dispatch 

 

The paradox of polar ice sheet formation solved. "The beginning of the last glacial period was characterized in the Northern hemisphere by major accumulation of snow at high latitudes and the formation of a huge polar ice sheet. For climatologists this was paradoxical, since snowfall is always associated with high humidity and relatively moderate temperatures. Now, a French team coordinated by Mar