Arctic Daily Update: July 24, 2013
USCG: Meeting Arctic missions. "As the nation's lead federal agency for ensuring maritime safety and security in the Arctic, the Coast Guard will perform its statutory missions to ensure the Arctic remains a safe, secure and environmentally protected region. After a successful Arctic Shield 2012 operation on the North Slope and Barrow, Arctic Shield 2013 focuses on Western Alaska and the Bering Strait. This year's operation will continue the three-pronged approach of outreach, operations and capability assessments." Marine Link
Shipping through Russian Arctic has quadrupled in past year. "For years people have been speculating that the melting of Arctic sea ice due to climate change would open new shipping lanes. In fact, it's happening now. The Financial Times reports that, as of last week, 204 ships had received permits this year to ply the Northern Sea Route, which connects East Asia to Europe via the waters off of Russia's northern coast. Last year, just 46 vessels made the trip. Two years ago, the number was four." Anchorage Daily News
In lieu of drilling, Shell maps Chukchi seafloor. "Shell Oil is still doing work in the Alaskan Arctic this summer, despite cancelling its drilling season in the wake of disasters that left both its rigs inoperable. As KTUU-TV first reported, the company is mapping the Chukchi seafloor for ice gouges -- distinctive markings left by massive chunks of ice scraping across the bottom of the ocean. Knowing the location of ice gouges and their depth is important if Shell ever wants to build a pipeline from its oil prospects to shore." KUCB.org
Arctic thawing could cost the world $60tn, scientists say. "Rapid thawing of the Arctic could trigger a catastrophic 'economic timebomb' which would cost trillions of dollars and undermine the global financial system, say a group of economists and polar scientists. Governments and industry have expected the widespread warming of the Arctic region in the past 20 years to be an economic boon, allowing the exploitation of new gas and oilfields and enabling shipping to travel faster between Europe and Asia. But the release of a single giant 'pulse' of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian sea 'could come with a $60tn [£39tn] global price tag', according to the researchers who have for the first time quantified the effects on the global economy." Guardian
Administration says [Outer Contintental Shelf] revenue sharing costs too much. "Murkowski's Fair Act would grant at least 27% of outer continental shelf royalties to coastal states. If states establish conservation funds, the allocation would jump 10%. So it's no wonder many coastal leaders, like North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower, support the plan. She said the revenues would go to major infrastructure improvements." Alaska Public
9th Circuit Court upholds fishing restrictions for Western Aleutian sea lions. "The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a lower court's ruling that keeps in place fishing closures and restrictions in the Western Aleutian Islands meant to protect and rebuild declining populations of Steller sea lions in Western Alaska." Alaska Dispatch
Rep. Simpson defends House EPA, Interior spending bill. "Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) defended the House GOP-proposed spending bill for the Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department that Democrats have ripped this week, saying fiscal constraints forced deep cuts. 'It's not a pretty bill. We're not going to try and put lipstick on this,' Simpson, who chairs the Appropriations Committee subpanel responsible for the bill, told reporters Tuesday in the Capitol. In all, the $24.3 billion Environment and Interior bill slashes $5.5 billion, or 19 percent, from the 19 agencies it covers in fiscal 2014. The cuts reflect a House GOP decision to bring its spending bills under sequestration caps to accommodate an above-sequestration level budget for the Pentagon." The Hill
Yesterday, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee - Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard held a hearing entitled, 'New England and Mid-Atlantic Perspectives on Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorization.' "Yesterday's hearing focused on how the act has affected fish and fishermen in the mid-Atlantic and New England, where severe catch reductions have created some of the biggest backlash against the act. Fishermen in the region have asked for relief. And at the Senate hearing yesterday, some of the fisheries managers said rebuilding deadlines may need to be revamped." E&E News
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing to consider S. 1273, the FAIR Act of 2013 (Murkowski). S.1273 would "establish a partnership between States that produce energy onshore and offshore for our country with the Federal Government." A synopsis of the markup is available here. More information is available in the Alaska Public article above.
**Revised day and time**
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, Tuesday July 30, 2013, 9-10:30 a.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."