Arctic Daily Update: July 5, 2013
The cold, hard reality of Arctic shipping. "As the Russians found out with the failed Shtokman gas field-a €15 billion (roughly $20 billion) Arctic investment killed due to cheap U.S. shale gas-the Arctic is not melting in isolation from events in the rest of the world. It is the global system, of which the Arctic is just one part, that matters; changes across that system, including in the Arctic, interact in ways that can be unpredictable at best. It is very unlikely, then, that the Northern Sea Route across the top of Russia will become a major pathway for the global flow of commerce, and it is virtually certain the Northwest Passage across the top of Canada will never be useful for international trade." U.S. Naval Institute
A new normal for Arctic sea ice. "Arctic sea ice continues to track below average but remains well above the levels seen last year. The relatively slow ice loss is a reflection of the prevailing temperature and wind patterns. As of July 1, NSIDC Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis and the Sea Ice Index have transitioned to a new 30-year baseline period, 1981 to 2010." National Snow and Ice Data Center
Redefining the Russian Arctic. "The Russian Law on Arctic Territories is expected to considerably shrink the extension of Russian Arctic land territories and lay down 'new rules of the game' both for the ones living and working there. According to a draft version of the legislative document, the Komi Republic will be among the areas, which are to be redefined, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reports. Also parts of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk Oblasts might be affected. According to Murmansk Senator Igor Chernishenko, only the areas which have direct access
to the Arctic coast will be defined as 'Arctic' in the law. That would mean that major areas of the Murmansk inland, like Polyarnye Zori, Kovdor, Kirovsk, Apatity, Monchegorsk and Olenegorsk will no longer be 'Arctic', Murman.ru reports." Barents Observer
Siberian herb could extend life, scientists say. "A stubby little plant from the icy permafrost of Siberia just might help you feel better and live longer, University of California-Irvine researchers say. They found fruit flies fed extracts of Rhodiola rosea, or 'golden root,' live 24 percent longer than their otherwise healthy peers. The research itself is a sign of the times: Today's physicians are becoming more open to the idea of using herbal remedies to treat their patients, and they need the science to back it up." Bangor Daily News
Thriving tundra bushes add fuel to Northern thaw. "Carbon-gobbling plants are normally allies in the fight to slow climate change, but in the frozen north, the effects of thriving vegetation may actually push temperatures higher. In a series of climate simulations performed at NERSC, a group of researchers found that the spread of bushes, taller ones especially, could exacerbate warming in northern latitudes by anywhere from 0.6°C to 1.8°C per year." Phys.org
Icebreaker arrives in Iqaluit, Nunavut to open Frobisher Bay. "The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Henry Larsen arrived at the inner part of Frobisher Bay in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut late Wednesday morning to make way for two vessels - a tanker and a cargo ship. The two ships - the first supply vessels to arrive at Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital city, this year - are waiting about 64 kilometres from the city. Once they arrive safely, they'll offload their goods." Eye on the Arctic
Centrica, E.ON and RWE lead Arctic rush for oil. "Half of the big six energy companies operating in the UK are leading a new dash into the Arctic in search of new oil and gas after gaining exploration licences in Norwegian waters. The push comes despite three of Norway's environment agencies warning that total or partial drilling bans are needed in most of the blocks. The most controversial is the block in the Barents Sea awarded to E.ON, which the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (NIMR) said should not be opened at all, because of the risk to marine life including the largest cods stocks left in the world. RWE, known to UK energy customers as npower, and Centrica, which owns British Gas, were also awarded exploration licences. All the companies are the operating partners for the blocks, in consortia with other companies including, in Centrica's case, Russia's Lukoil." Guardian
After a 250-day, 1640 km drift in the Arctic Ocean, crew from North Pole-40 station is back on shore. "The 16 scientists were in danger of sinking on an ice floe that had shrunk ten times. Nikolai Fomichev, chief of the drifting ice North Pole 40-40 station, said: 'The cracks went right thought the ice field, dividing it into four separate floes - and never froze back.' The mercy mission was carried out by the Yamal icebreaker which sailed 2,236 miles to reach the stricken station where the Russian flag was lowered in a ceremony on 12 June. The decision to close the station and pluck the crew to safety was taken in mid-May and the Yamal's arrival was 'not a moment too soon', said a source." Siberian Times
Trans-Siberian Railway getting new lease on life. "Russia is considering plans to develop the Trans-Siberian Railway as an international transport corridor linking Europe and the countries of the Asia-Pacific region." Russia Beyond the Headlines
India looks forward to using Artic sea route. "India, which earlier this year gained observer status at the Arctic Council, is looking forward to using the much shortened Northern Sea Route along the resource-rich Arctic in another six-seven years due to the fast-melting ice in the region. By 2020, the Northern Sea Route - along the northern coast of Russia linking Europe, East Asia and Southeast Asia - could be easily usable with the Arctic ice melting at a fast pace. India is looking forward to using the route that would cut travel time by as much as 40 per cent. India is engaging with the Arctic Council members and hopes it could begin using that route as early as 2020, a source said." Post Noon
No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.
The event will be held at the Capital Yacht Club, 1000 Water St. SW, Washington, DC 20024, on July 10th, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. It's accessible from the L'Enfant or Waterfront metro stops. Tickets are $20, and include hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie options, side
dishes and two drink tickets. Register here"
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)
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."