Arctic Daily Update: April 26, 2013
The House is expected to pass legislation regarding the nation's helium reserves and air traffic controller furloughs. Meanwhile the Senate convenes in a pro forma session. Neither chamber is in session next week.
House Appropriations Chief Says 2014 Spending Cuts Would be 'Severe.' House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers and senior committee Republicans, signaling unease with spending bills set at a sharply low levels dictated by sequester, said Thursday that GOP lawmakers will face tough choices with measures that will have a "severe" impact on federal programs. "I suspect there will be some who will be shocked," said Rogers, who is proceeding with appropriations bills under a discretionary spending level scaled by $91 billion under sequester. Congressional Quarterly
McCain Warns that Shipbuilding Plans Threaten Navy's Capability in Pacific. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee, on Thursday questioned the "credibility" of the military's shift in focus to the sprawling Pacific, as the size of the Navy's fleet shrinks over the next several years. The fleet, which is declining this year from 287 to 282 ships, will dip to 270 ships in 2015 before growing to 300 by the end of fiscal 2019, Navy Secretary Raymond Mabus told the Armed Services Committee. Congressional Quarterly
GOP Senators Meet with White House Emissaries on Budget Issues. About a dozen Republican senators discussed ways to reduce the deficit and other issues with White House officials Thursday in the Capitol. The group included some senators who recently dined with President Barack Obama, who has sought out Republicans in an effort to break the gridlock in the Senate. Congressional Quarterly
Spring Whaling Begins in Arctic. Despite the lingering effects of winter, spring whaling has begun in Arctic Alaska and seal hunters are also heading to the coast from Chevak in the Southwest part of the state. Grace Levitt with the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission in Barrow confirmed today that whaling crews on St. Lawrence Island have landed a total of three bowheads so far - two for Gambell and one for Savoonga. Farther south on the mainland, seal hunters from the Cu'pik community of Chevak are hauling their boats to the coast for spring seal hunts. John Atchak lives in Chevak and is a long time hunter. He's been watching hunters head to favorite coastal spots toward Hopper Bay and Nelson Island. APRN
Alaska Bowhead Whale Hunt Off to Slow Start. Whalers across Arctic Alaska are gearing up to land their first catch of the year in an ancient ritual governed by the vast expanses of sea ice that cradle the coast each spring. Across the Bering Strait from Russia, the village of Wales 700 miles northwest of Anchorage is looking for bowhead whales and more leads in the ice where those whales might appear. So far it hasn't had much of either, putting the whaling season a bit behind schedule, said Winton Weyapuk Jr. Alaska Dispatch
Rosneft, Novatek Join Efforts Against Gazprom. "Our negotiations with Gazprom have not been productive," Novatek leader Leonid Mikhelson said this week about his company's attempt to reach a deal with the gas monopoly over the Yamal LNG plant, newspaper Vedomost reports. As previously reported, the two companies last year announced their intention to cooperate about LNG production in Yamal and the nearby Gydan Peninsula. Now, the negotiations appeared to be in deadlock.The standstill in corporate relations in Yamal is symptomatic to current state of affairs between the companies. Novatek, the second biggest gas producer in Russia, and Rosneft, now the word's biggest oil producer, increasingly appear to be cooperating about bringing Gazprom down from its privileged position as monopoly company in both exports and infrastructure. Barents Observer
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts. Earlier this week, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts, including Yvette Roubideaux to be the director of the Indian Health Service. This represents a re-nomination of Dr. Roubideaux to the position. The White House
Greenpeace Protesting Arctic Oil Plans. Protesters chained themselves to oil barrels in front of the Moscow offices of Norwegian major Statoil because of arctic exploration plans, Greenpeace said. Activists wearing polar bear costumes protested arctic oil plans. Greenpeace said Norway is lauded typically for its environmental stewardship. UPI
Drumming Traditions of Japan and Inupiat Converge in Arctic Music Collaboration. Two different musical traditions meet in the Arctic this week as East High School students from Anchorage travel to Point Hope for drumming collaboration. Workshops start Thursday and go through Saturday. The Taiko Drummers, led by instructor Erika Ninoyu, practice a Japanese drumming style developed in the 1950s. Ninoyu is a Taiko composer and performer. The group of students she leads has performed at the Anchorage Museum, with the Anchorage Symphony, and at fundraisers supporting relief for Japan earthquake and tsunami victims. Alaska Dispatch
Longer Days Bring 'Winter Blues'-For Rats, Not Humans. Most of us are familiar with the "winter blues," the depression-like symptoms known as "seasonal affective disorder," or SAD, that occurs when the shorter days of winter limit our exposure to natural light and make us more lethargic, irritable and anxious. But for rats it's just the opposite. Biologists at UC San Diego have found that rats experience more anxiety and depression when the days grow longer. More importantly, they discovered that the rat's brain cells adopt a new chemical code when subjected to large changes in the day and night cycle, flipping a switch to allow an entirely different neurotransmitter to stimulate the same part of the brain. Science Daily
ConocoPhillips: No New Timeline for Arctic Drilling Program. ConocoPhillips (COP) executives didn't give a new timeline for the company's Arctic drilling program during a conference call Thursday, after the company said earlier this month it wouldn't go forward this summer as it had planned. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Sheets said the company will need more time to understand the regulatory framework before beginning work in the Chukchi Sea, off the coast of Alaska. He said drilling in 2015 is possible but not a sure thing. Fox Business
US, Others Wrangle Over Future Arctic Governance. With climate change rapidly opening up new opportunities for shipping and resource extraction across the once permanently frozen Arctic, the United States and other northern countries are being compelled to re-examine their policies, both national and collective, towards this region of growing geostrategic importance. Last week, the president of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, was in Washington to announce the launch of a new group called the Arctic Circle, which would include all counties and entities interested in greater involvement in Arctic-related decision-making. Thomson Reuters Foundation
New Fossil Fuel Frontiers Pose 'Catastrophic' Threat to Global Recovery. Soaring risks around new fossil fuel frontiers - shale gas, deepwater exploration and the Arctic - have the potential to blow the global economic recovery off course, according to a report. Energy companies need to adopt more sophisticated risk management strategies to take account of relatively low-likelihood but potentially "catastrophic" disasters, says the paper from the global insurance broker Marsh. The Guardian
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.