Arctic Daily Update: July 19, 2013
"It's like the world is opening up a new subdivision."
NBC Nightly News presents some highlights from the 5th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations, presented jointly by the U.S. Arctic Research Commission and the U.S. National/Naval Ice Center. The conference concluded successfully yesterday. NBC News.
Senate votes 59-40 to confirm McCarthy as EPA administrator. "The Senate
voted 59-40 on Thursday to confirm the controversial nomination of Gina McCarthy to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and John McCain (Ariz.) voted for McCarthy's confirmation, while Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) joined most Republicans in voting against her nomination. 'My fight is not with her, it's with the agency and the president,' Manchin said ahead of the vote. 'And the fight will continue until the EPA stops its over-regulatory rampage.'" The Hill
Begich has big lead in fundraising over GOP rivals. "U.S. Sen. Mark Begich held a huge fundraising lead over his Republican rivals during the latest reporting period. The first-term Democrat, who expects a tough campaign, reported bringing in about $993,000 between April 1 and June 30, and ending the quarter with $2 million available for his re-election bid next year. Republicans see the Senate seat as critical to their efforts to regain control of the chamber. Begich's highest-profile Republican challengers are Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller, a tea party favorite during his unsuccessful 2010 U.S. Senate campaign against Lisa Murkowski. Miller announced his candidacy in May, Treadwell in June." Anchorage Daily News
Alaska's needs advanced, approved by appropriations. "Senator Lisa Murkowski succeeded today in pushing a wide range of Alaskan priorities through the Senate Appropriations process, as the provisions and funding levels that she successfully passed through two subcommittees on Tuesday were advanced and approved by the entire Appropriations Committee this morning.
Those two bills included funding for fishery disasters, Coast Guard operations, icebreaker construction, firefighter grants, tsunami debris funding, prioritizing electronic monitoring for fisherman over human observers, and other Alaska needs -- and are ready for Senate floor consideration." Sen. Murkowski Official Website
Fishery disaster funds included in early appropriations bill. "Relief funds for last summer's King salmon fisheries disasters on the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers has taken one step closer to reaching fishermen in the region. Funds have been included in the Senate Appropriations bill. The bill passed out of the Senate's Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee Tuesday and through the Appropriations Committee today. The bill allocates $150 million for fisheries disasters in Alaska, as well as in New England and Mississippi. Senator Lisa Murkowski says it is uncertain how the money would be split. 'That $150 million would be divided up based on recommendations from the state's to NOAA,' Murkowski says. 'So, that is yet to be determined.'" Alaska Public Media
Support gained for more Coast Guard funds. "Provisions to support increased Coast Guard activity in the Arctic were inserted in a subcommittee version of the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill for fiscal 2014 on July 16 by
Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, the Atmosphere, Fisheries, and the Coast Guard, Begich has been vocal in his
support for greater icebreaking capabilities for the Coast Guard, in order to accommodate increased shipping activity and oil and gas development in the Arctic. 'The shrinking Arctic sea ice is opening up a new frontier of maritime commerce and development,' Begich said. To that end, the United States must make sure it is prepared for increased traffic, and today's bill is an important step toward stronger icebreaker capability, while keeping spending in check, he said." Cordova Times
Committee advances $6M for marine debris. "A U.S. Senate committee has advanced a measure that would provide $6 million for marine debris clean-up, including debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami. President Barack Obama had requested that amount as part of his budget proposal. It was included in a package advanced from the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. Language also calls for the secretary of Commerce to submit a report detailing how federal agencies are preparing for and responding to the tsunami debris that is reaching U.S. shores, and how it is working with states, tribes and local governments. Alaska Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski have pushed for better federal planning and a coordinated response in addressing the tsunami debris." Anchorage Daily News
Snow and Arctic sea ice extent plummet suddenly as globe bakes. "NOAA and NASA both ranked June 2013 among the top five warmest (NOAA fifth warmest, NASA second warmest) Junes on record globally (dating back to the late 1800s). But, more remarkable, was the incredible snow melt that preceded the toasty month and the sudden loss of Arctic sea ice that followed. The amazing decline in Northern Hemisphere snow cover during May is a story few have told, but is certainly worth noting. In April, hefty Northern Hemisphere snow cover ranked 9th highest on record (dating back to 1967), but then turned scant, plummeting to third lowest on record during May. Half of the existing snow melted away." Washington Post
American Indians originate from Russia. "The history of North American Indians still raises many questions in the scientific world. The culture of this people remains a mystery, and its origins are mysterious because lack of evidence as to who was their ancestor. Scientists know little about the surviving descendants of Indian tribes. Recently, however, anthropologists found some of them. The latest study by American scientists became a sensation in the scientific world. Historians have found that the descendants of the ancient people inhabiting the territory of North America about 5,000 years ago are still alive today. This conclusion was made by researchers after comparing the DNA of fossils found on the northern coast of British Columbia in Canada and the living people who belong to the first several tribes from this area." Pravda.ru
Is Arctic oil exploration dead in the U.S.? "A year ago this September, Royal Dutch Shell PLC began the first new oil drilling in U.S. Arctic waters in more than two decades. The company spent $5 billion and dispatched an armada of ships and equipment to offshore Alaska to evaluate the energy resources on its federal leases. From the beginning, however, Shell's operation faced a multitude of problems -- everything from lingering sea ice to a damaged oil spill containment dome. The Dutch company was never able to secure the permits needed to drill into the hydrocarbon zone on its leases." E&E News
The exceptionality of Inuit diplomacy. "This month marked the 20th anniversary of the passing of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, the largest land claim in Canadian history, which led to the establishment of the territory of Nunavut. It is the most significant, but far from the only major political achievement that Canadian Inuit have racked up in the past generation. There is no question that Inuit are the most politically successful indigenous group in Canada, probably the world, and that this astuteness has spilled over into circumpolar affairs." Eye on the Arctic
The Shard Protest - Are environmentalists trampling indigenous views on Arctic development? "Just last year, protestors in Nunavut spoke out against the high cost of milk and other basic foodstuffs. But few international media outlets paid attention to these protests, even though they touched upon an issue just as central to the Arctic as the environment: human development and well-being. In comparison, the scaling of The Shard, a London skyscraper that's near BP's offices, by six Greenpeace protestors attracted international attention to the environmental issues surrounding drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic. The contrasting media responses to these two protests highlight the unyielding primacy of the environment in international debates on the future of the Arctic. When I tell people that I study the Arctic, one of the main questions I receive is, 'Do people live up there?' Depictions of the circumpolar north as pure and empty are still resonant. The answer to that question is yes. Four million people do." Eye on the Arctic
Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Gina McCarthy to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency by a vote of 59-40. More information is available above.
Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion on "The Benefits and 'Costs of Cold:' Arctic Economics in the 21st Century" featuring Alaskan Lieutenant Gov. Mead Treadwell, Wednesday July 31, 2013, 3 p.m. (CSIS, Washington, D.C.).
Alaska's Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell will
discuss the future of economic development in the American Arctic at this upcoming event.
"A new CSIS Europe Program report, which will be released on July 31, examines the economic benefits of Arctic development and the financial and environmental costs of Arctic infrastructure development. It determines that for now, the U.S. gives greater weight to the costs of Arctic development than to its benefits. Lieutenant Governor Treadwell will offer his reflections on this new report."
Please RSVP to Matthew Melino at MMelino@csis.org
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 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."