Arctic Daily Update: April 25, 2013
The House will consider legislation regarding privatization of the nation's helium reserves. The Senate will continue consideration of interstate tax legislation.
Baucus Retirement Could Put Landrieu in Top Energy Spot. The musical chairmanship game set off by Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus' retirement could put one of the Democrats' biggest oil and gas industry boosters in charge of the Energy panel - and simultaneously improve her re-election chances. Louisiana Democrat Mary L. Landrieuis currently third in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee's pecking order, following Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon and South Dakota's Tim Johnson, who is also retiring at the end of his term. Wyden is next in line for the Finance Committee gavel in the 114th Congress - an opening on one of the most powerful committees in Congress that could be hard for the tax policy technocrat to pass up.Roll Call
"State of the Air 2013" Report Finds Anchorage's Air Quality Health and Fairbanks' Air Failing. The American Lung Association's "State of the Air 2013" report finds the air quality in Anchorage, and nationwide, continues the long-term trend to much healthier air. The Fairbanks North Star Borough remains a notable exception showing high levels of short-term and annual particle pollution. Fairbanks is the 11th-most polluted city for short-term particle pollution and tied as the 18th-most polluted city in the nation for year-round levels of particle pollution. Particle pollution levels can spike dangerously for hours to weeks on end (short-term) or remain at unhealthy levels on average every day (year-round). Anchorage Daily News
Flush with $95 Million, Mega-Dam Project in Alaska Advances. Fresh funding will allow a state agency to continue moving forward with plans to build what would be the second-tallest dam in the country, just behind California's 770-foot Oroville dam. Proponents of the Susitna-Watana Hydro project in Southcentral Alaska pushed hard during the recent legislative sessions to funnel money toward the mega project. They were able to secure further state investment during a session in which lawmakers approved a cut to state oil revenue worth about a billion or more per year. Despite the state's shrinking revenue expectations, the Susitna dam project received $95.2 million in Alaska's most recent capital budget, which totaled $2.2 billion, down nearly $1 billion from the previous year. Alaska Dispatch
The Arctic Council Needs to Open Up. [Opinion] The Arctic Council is under increasing pressure. Set up as an intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation among Arctic states, the Council is failing to adequately accommodate rising interest from outside the region. As a result, it is no longer the only Arctic forum in town. On 15 April, the President of Iceland, Ólafur Grímsson, proudly announced the official launch of a new forum: the Arctic Circle. In the last decade, interest in the High North has surged beyond the traditional Arctic coastal states. South Korea is busy building icebreakers, China is stepping up its polar research efforts and the European Union published its first Arctic strategy in 2008. EurActiv
Arctic Breeding Birds Need Our Attention. [Opinion] Earth Day this year has been dedicated to presenting "the face of climate change." Nowhere is this face more on view than in Arctic Alaska. Like the birds I study, I migrate to this fantastic landscape every summer. At 231,000 square kilometers, Arctic Alaska is larger than Minnesota and encompasses most of the northern portion of the state and the entire Arctic coastal plain. National Geographic
Should Parnell's 'Choose Respect' Campaign be Named 'More Jail Time?' [Opinion] Our Republican governor would like you to think that his "choose respect" campaign is all about the feel-good concept of ending violence. But in reality his actions come down to one thing: more jail. Bush Alaska should be horrified. More jail time, more prosecutors and more criminal laws will not help Bush Alaska, but instead his attack is crippling our youth. Alaska Dispatch
Rosneft Plans More Arctic Exploration to Boost Share Value. OAO Rosneft (ROSN) said a plan to step up Arctic exploration will help increase shareholder value at the same time the world's largest publicly traded oil producer starts exporting liquefied natural gas. Rosneft will export its first LNG from a planned Far East project in 2018. The producer, which is seeking to double gas output by 2020, is targeting clients in Asia, where prices for the fuel are higher. Bloomberg
Sea Ice Loss Affects Much More Than Just The Arctic. Sea ice is any form of ice found at sea that originated from the freezing of sea water. It is the most visible feature of the Arctic Ocean, with its extent waxing and waning with the seasons. Ice thickness is highly variable, ranging from a thin veneer to tens of meters. While the existence of sea ice reflects the cold conditions inherent to high latitudes, sea ice also strongly modulates the energy budget and climate of the Arctic and beyond, particularly because it is white, and hence reflects much of the sun's energy back to space (it has a high albedo) and also through acting as a lid, insulating the underlying ocean from a generally much colder atmosphere. Alaska Dispatch
Mammal and Bug Food Co-Op in the High Arctic. Who would have thought that two very different species, a small insect and a furry alpine mammal, would develop a shared food arrangement in the far North? University of Alberta researchers were certainly surprised when they discovered the unusual response of pikas to patches of vegetation that had previously been grazed on by caterpillars from a species normally found in the high Arctic. Science Daily
Dr. Rebecca Lent to Join the Marine Mammal Commission in June 2013. Dr. Rebecca Lent will join the Marine Mammal Commission as Executive Director beginning 1 June 2013, following the retirement of its current director, Dr. Timothy Ragen. Dr. Lent joins the Commission after serving for more than 20 years with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, most recently as Director of the Office for International Affairs. Marine Mammal Commission
Railways to Secure Arctic Development. By 2020 a large transport line is going to be built in Russia. The future railway is called "The Northern Latitude Route" (NLR) and will stretch along the Arctic coast of Russia across the entire Siberia from the east to the west. It is expected that the new railroad will boost cargo turnover between Siberian sea ports and will also become an 800-km support transport line for the Northern Sea Route. The Northern Latitude Route will provide access to the main oil and gas fields in Siberia, that are planned to be developed in the nearest future, including offshore fields. NLR will then ensure the shortest way for transportation of hydrocarbons. Barents Nova
Canadian Armed Forces Achieve Objectives During High Arctic Operations Operation Nunalivut 2013, one of the major sovereignty operations conducted every year by the Canadian Armed Forces in the High Arctic, concluded today with a closing ceremony and parade at Task Force Nunalivut Headquarters in Resolute Bay. This year's operation took place in the northwestern portion of the Arctic Archipelago, with long-range sovereignty patrols by air, and over land and sea ice. The operation extended from Resolute Bay west to Mould Bay, Northwest Territories, and north to Isachsen, on Ellef Ringnes Island, Nunavut, and Tanquary Fjord, on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut. MarketWire
No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.
International Conference on Arctic Ocean Acidification, May 6-8, 2013, Bergen, Norway. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, and the University of British Columbia, Canada, host a conference to consider Arctic Ocean acidification. Topics will include response of Arctic Ocean to increasing CO2 and related changes in the global carbon cycle, social and policy challenges, Arctic Ocean acidification and ecological and biogeochemical coupling, implications of changing Arctic Ocean acidification for northern (commercial and subsistence) fisheries, and future developments.
Private Sector Transportation, Infrastructure, Assets, Response, Capacity, and Development in the Arctic, May 30, 2012, Seattle, WA. A recently-held Arctic transportation workshop in Iceland highlighted the need to better understand private sector transportation infrastructure and assets, recognizing industry's role in the responsible development of resources, response and supportive infrastructure. As a follow-up to its efforts to inventory and map Arctic transportation infrastructure, the Institute of the North is hosting a workshop at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, Washington that focuses on three critical areas: private sector assets and infrastructure in the Arctic, staging areas outside the Arctic that support Northern development, and vessels and technology that are difficult to map but need to be measured for future decision-making. Participants include industry representatives, technical experts, researchers, Coast Guard and other response personnel.
AGU Science Policy Conference, June 24-26, 2013. (Washington, DC) Hundreds of Earth and space scientists, students, policymakers, and industry professionals will discuss key Earth and space science topics that address challenges to our economy, national security, environment, and public safety. This meeting will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions related to energy, natural hazards, technology and infrastructure, climate, oceans, and the Arctic. The event is hosted by American Geophysical Union (AGU), a Washington, D. C.-based international nonprofit scientific association.
5th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations, July 16-18, 2013 (Washington, D.C.). The U.S. National/Naval Ice Center (NIC) and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) co-host this follow-on symposium to address the changing state of Arctic sea ice and associated environmental conditions vis-a-vis emerging or expected naval, maritime, and associated activities and operations in the region. Invited speakers include nationally and internationally recognized experts on Arctic observations, climate change, and maritime operations.
** New** The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit, October 8-10, (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 inaugural Arctic Circle will be held October 12-14, 2013. Subsequent Arctic Circle gatherings will be held in a different Arctic location each year, so that participants can become familiar with the challenges, needs and opportunities presented by these unique environments. The agenda for the first Arctic Circle gathering will include plenary sessions with international leaders on emerging topics of interest, such as: Sea ice melt and extreme weather; Security in the Arctic; Fisheries and ecosystem management; Shipping and transportation infrastructure; Arctic Resources; and Tourism.
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 research scientific 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.