Arctic Daily Update: July 11, 2013
$30B energy, water spending bill passes House, 227-198. "The House late Wednesday approved the third of 12 annual spending bills for 2014, passing the Department of Energy (DOE) and water projects spending bill in a 227-198 vote. Democrats have argued throughout the week that the $30.4 billion spending bill cuts too deeply into renewable energy and science research. Those complaints led all but eight Democrats to oppose the bill in the final vote. President Obama has also threatened to veto the bill because of these cuts, and Senate consideration of a bill that spends more means the House version is not likely to survive the upper chamber. Still, House passage allows Republicans to set down a marker on their priorities if and when a final 2014 spending agreement is reached." The Hill
Will Alaska's unfunded pension, health liabilities swamp future state budgets? "Alaska's retirement woes continue to grow, with underfunding of pension and health care plans growing by an additional $800 million this year, a problem likely to further strain future state budgets. What's known as the 'unfunded liability' of the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) and the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) now amounts to nearly $12 billion." Alaska Dispatch
Arctic seed vault preserves the world's agricultural supply. "In the Arctic Ocean, about 800 miles from the North Pole and midway to mainland Norway is the Svalbard archipelago, a remote island cluster, two-thirds of which is covered with glaciers. Built into the mountainside on the remote island of Spitsbergen sits what Time Magazine deemed one of the best inventions of 2008. Dubbed 'Noah's Ark for Seeds,' 'The Fort Knox of Food' and also a more ominous 'Doomsday Vault,' these are the most popular nicknames tossed around by the media. Officially, its name is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault - and it is a fortress, built specifically for protecting and housing the world's largest collection of humankind's smallest, but most important agricultural assets - seeds." The Suit Magazine
Russia to defend its interests in the Arctic. "A governmental group formed under Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich convened in Murmansk to discuss questions of developing, opening, studying and defending the arctic zone. The group also discussed international cooperation in the hotly disputed area. Dvorkovich flew in from Moscow especially for the discussions. One of the series of meetings was devoted to issues of implementing an agreement that was ratified in 2011 between Russia and Norway demarcating the border between the two countries in the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean in the hopes of achieving better cooperation." Bellona.org
The contribution of the Greenland ice sheet to sea-level rise will continue to increase. "New research has shown surface ice melt will be the dominant
process controlling ice-loss from Greenland. As outlet glaciers retreat inland the other process, iceberg production, remains important but will not grow as rapidly. The Greenland ice sheet is often considered an important potential contributor to future global sea-level rise over the next century or longer. In total, it contains an amount of ice that would lead to a rise of global sea level by more than seven metres, if completely melted." Phys.org
Changing the baseline - a look at how we measure Arctic sea ice. "Polar scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center are changing the way they compare annual fluctuations in Arctic sea ice to the long term average. The new method produces some new graphs, but more importantly it gives scientists more confidence that a downward trend in sea ice exists. We explain why." The Carbon Brief
Literary guide to the Far North. Joanna Kavenna, author of three novels and The Ice Museum, highlights a literary journey through the Arctic through Shetland, Iceland, Norway, Estonia and Greenland. The Telegraph
Greenpeace protesters scale The Shard in London over Shell's Arctic drilling plan. "Greenpeace protesters are now halfway up London's Shard building to protest Shell's Arctic drilling plans. The campaigning group said the climbers would stay on the building as long as it was safe to do so, and that they are prepared to be arrested. It said the building was chosen because it sits in the middle of the oil company's three headquarters and because the building was modeled on a shard of ice." Independent.uk
Coast Guard brings heavy ice-breaker ship to Arctic amid warnings from environmentalists. "The U.S. Coast Guard has a heavy ice-breaking ship working in the Arctic region for the first time in more than four years. The ship is capable of breaking through 21 feet of ice, and is being employed amid cries from environmentalists and politicians that Arctic ice is thinning. Increased interest in developing the Arctic has spurred demand for ice-breakers to be sent up north." Daily Caller
DNA links 5,500 year old remains of aboriginal woman found in Canada and her 200 x great-grandaughter who still lives nearby. "Scientists have traced a genetic descent from the 5,500 year-old remains to a second set of 2,500 year-old female remains found nearby and, amazingly, to a woman still living close to both prehistoric sites on British Columbia's northern coast." abroad in the yard
Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2609, the Fiscal Year 2014 Energy-Water Appropriations bill by a vote of 227-198. The bill, whose counterpart S.1245 awaits passage in the Senate, provides $30.4 billion to the Department of Energy and for water programs (see The Hill article above).
The U.S. National/Naval Ice Center (NIC) and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) are co-hosting this 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.
Meeting is open to all. Registration is $175. DOD participants can register and pay for this without special approval. The meeting is co-sponsored by the DOD, and in your internal request document, we've been advised that you should indicate that this activity is a "Review of Arctic Change Impacts." For Navy personnel, this means that approval by the DoN/AA is NOT needed.Among the many confirmed speakers are:
Alaskan Senators (Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich)
Alaska Arctic Policy Commission Meeting, August 28-29, 2013 (Unalaska, Alaska). The 3rd meeting of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission will, among other things, continue its mission to positively influence federal Arctic policy. "Toward that end, the Commission will compile a list of all the current federal programs that directly affect Arctic Alaska and Arctic policy, and track and thoroughly investigate each program. These findings will inform the Commission's Final Report."
Arctic Exchange, September 16-17, 2013 (Stockholm). "The Exchange brings an evolutionary concept in networking and business information delivery. The concept is designed to meet specific business objectives during two days for promoting cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic communities addressing key issues such as sustainable business development and regional protection. As more and more data has confirmed that the Arctic is extremely rich in oil and gas reserves, locations such as Greenland and the Barents Sea have seen a huge growth in interest from the hydrocarbon industry. Despite the opportunities offered, there are many challenges that may hinder operations. The presence of cold temperatures, ice and a lack of infrastructure pose logistical problems that make exploration expensive and risky."
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 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."
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: www.whoi.edu/projects/FAMOS
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."