Arctic Daily Update: May 14, 2013
The Senate resumes consideration of a water resources bill. The House will consider three bills under a suspension of the rules.
Arctic Council Ministerial Meetings 2013 (May 14-15, 2013) (Kiruna, Sweden). The Ministerial Meeting of the Swedish Chairmanship marks the end of the Swedish Chairmanship and the beginning of the Canadian Chairmanship. Arctic Council will hold its biennial Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna in the north of Sweden. Ministers, delegates from the eight Arctic states, representatives of indigenous peoples, scientists and observers will gather in Kiruna to mark the end of the two-year Swedish chairmanship and the beginning of the Canadian chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Many of the events will be webcast. More information here.
Arctic Council Unlikely to Deal Directly With Climate Change. The warming impact of soot and methane on the Arctic climate and the increasing acidification of the Arctic Ocean: these are among the key issues that the Arctic Council's various working groups will formally present May 15 to the Arctic Council ministerial gathering in Kiruna, Sweden. But it's unlikely that the Arctic Council will support any move to deal directly with the causes of climate change in the Arctic - such as the reduction of global or regional greenhouse gas emissions, the main drivers behind warming and other damaging impacts of climate change in the Arctic. Nunatsiaq Online
Northern Beacon (Op-Ed). Much too often, diplomacy is behind the curve in struggling with developments unfolding in ways not foreseen. But when the Arctic Council meets in Kiruna in northern Sweden in the next few days, it is a rare example of a framework set up to deal with events well before they really start to happen, thus making it possible to shape events rather than reacting to things that have already gone wrong. The Arctic Council was set up between the eight Arctic states, with representatives of the indigenous peoples as permanent participants, in Ottawa in 1996. But in its first years it hardly registered on the international scene. The High North was a remote and cold place that attracted little attention outside the circle of military strategists. New York Times
White House Releases US Arctic Strategy; Kerry Heads to Kiruna: US Confirms May 15 Signing of Arctic Council Oil Spill Treaty. On the same day that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced he'll attend the May 15 Arctic Council gathering in Kiruna, Sweden, President Barak Obama unveiled a new policy document that sets out U.S. priorities for the Arctic region. Kerry and other Arctic Council ministers will sign the Arctic Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response Agreement May 15, a State department statement said. Nunatsiaq Online
Begich to Sec. Kerry: Keep Fisheries at Forefront of Arctic Negotiations: Urges the appointment of US Arctic ambassador. In anticipation of Secretary of State John Kerry's attendance at this week's meeting of the Arctic Council, U.S. Senator Mark Begich urged Kerry to consider the appointment of a U.S. Arctic ambassador and to build on the momentum of recent international negotiations regarding commercial fishing in Arctic waters. The U.S. proposal to close international waters of the Central Arctic to commercial fishing enjoys general support from Canada, Denmark and Greenland and emphasizes the need for strong institutional mechanisms to manage, monitor, and control commercial fishing. The closure does not include the region covered by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Convention. Senator Mark Begich
Arctic Council: John Kerry Steps into Arctic Diplomacy. Three and half a months into his tenure as US secretary of state, John Kerry is grappling with war in Syria, tensions on the Korean peninsula and other crises. But on Tuesday, he takes a short break to dive into an issue in which he has long been interested - climate change. Mr Kerry arrived in Stockholm and headed to Kiruna, Sweden's northernmost city, in the province of Lapland, for a meeting of the Arctic Council. The council, founded in 1996, brings together eight nations with land above the Arctic Circle - Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US. BBC News
Alaska Bush Pilot Makes History, Enriches Science With Expeditions Over Both Poles. It's been about a month now since Alaska pilot Art Mortvedt crossed the Geographic North Pole in his Cessna 185, becoming the first pilot to cross both poles in a single-engine aircraft. Mortvedt, who with his wife owns and operates the Peace of Selby Wilderness Lodge in the Brooks Range during the summers and calls Manley Hot Springs home in the off season, has flown more than 20 missions to Antarctica and purchased his aircraft, the "Polar Pumpkin" after its years of service at the South Pole. Alaska Dispatch
2nd Volcano This Month is Heating up in Alaska. Another volcano in Alaska is heating up, with seismic instruments signaling a possible eruption, scientists said Monday. Tremors were detected at Pavlof Volcano, 625 miles southwest of Anchorage, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory. Satellite imagery showed the mountain was "very, very hot," said John Power, the U.S. Geological Survey scientist in charge at the observatory. The aviation alert level for Pavlof was raised from "yellow" to "orange." A major ash emission could threaten international flights. Anchorage Daily News
Budget Cuts Pare Real-Time Monitoring of Volcanoes. Scientists monitoring Alaska's volcanoes have been forced to shut down stations that provide real-time tracking of eruptions and forgo repairs of seismic equipment amid ongoing federal budget cuts - moves that could mean delays in getting vital information to airline pilots and emergency planners. The Alaska Volcano Observatory can no longer seismically monitor five volcanoes with real-time equipment to detect imminent eruptions. Such equipment is especially important in helping pilots receive up-to-the-minute warnings about spewing ash that can cause engine failures and other problems. Anchorage Daily News
Murkowski Responds to National Arctic Strategy. Senator Lisa Murkowski today welcomed the administration's Strategy for the Arctic Region, to set a tone for the Arctic Council's meeting next week in Sweden - where she has been invited to join Secretary of State John Kerry due to her leadership on Arctic issues on Capitol Hill. She offered the following response: "I welcome the release of the Administration's National Strategy for the Arctic Region, identifying strategic priorities for the United States in the Arctic Region for the next 10 years - and their top line acknowledgement that America is an Arctic Nation. As the Strategy notes, issues such as circumpolar maritime transit, greater access to resources, and the needs of the indigenous people of the Arctic are coming to the forefront and the Arctic's importance to the United States as a nation demands greater attention." Senator Lisa Murkowski
Murkowski Fighting for Arctic Ports, Alaska Priorities in Senate Bill. With the U.S. Senate considering S.601 the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) to address infrastructure priorities on America's coasts and rivers, Senator Lisa Murkowski today introduced three separate amendments to boost Alaska's emerging Arctic opportunities and address the needs of other vital waterfront areas in Seward and Haines. "Port and harbor investment is essential to so many Alaskan communities in Alaska, and I'm glad the Senate has taken up this bill dealing with the Corps of Engineers' vital work. We must continue to push forward on investment in Arctic ports because the reality of Arctic development and an increase in Arctic shipping is upon us," said Murkowski. "Before representing Congress at the Arctic Council in Sweden, I made it a priority to advocate on behalf of Alaska's needs. The United States is an Arctic Nation, development is happening now - not in the future, now - and we put much at risk without appropriate investment in American Arctic ports." Senator Lisa Murkowski
Begich Sponsors Amendment to Spur Arctic Deep Water Port Development. As the Senate considers a major bill to authorize ports, navigation, and flood control projects nationwide today U.S. Sen. Mark Begich joined with Sen. Lisa Murkowski to offer an amendment designed to spur development of a deep water port in the Arctic by giving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authority to engage in expanded partnerships with local, tribal and borough governments. "There is a growing need for a deep water port in the region because as the Arctic sea ice recedes, oil and gas development is increasing and maritime shipping is expanding," Begich said. "But we can't just rely on the federal government to come up with the funds to build a deep water port. This amendment would allow the Army Corps, which has decades of experience in port development, to work with state, local and tribal governments to develop a deep water port in the Arctic. In addition to being fiscally responsible, it will also allow local communities to have a greater say in when, where and how arctic ports will be developed." Senator Mark Begich
Arctic Council: 8th Ministerial Meeting. Senator Murkowski will be representing Congress at the Arctic Council in Sweden this week. The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental organization focused on the many issues facing the Arctic and its people. The Council currently consists of eight member countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. Senator Lisa Murkowski
Murkowski: "North to the Future Means Now." Senator Lisa Murkowski today landed in Kiruna, Sweden for the biennial Arctic Council Ministerial meeting to sit down with international leaders from the seven other Arctic nations and determine intelligent and responsible Arctic policy, while sharing approaches to the opportunities and challenges arising with the emergence of the region. "The world is awakening to the fact that 'North to the Future' means now," said Murkowski. "As important as building infrastructure in America's Arctic is to allow the United States to benefit fully in the path forward, the reality is that we also must be building bridges with our northern neighbors as these new opportunities open up. The Arctic Council is an incredibly important forum for information-gathering, international cooperation, and consensus development so that America is not standing on the sidelines as Arctic policies move forward." Senator Lisa Murkowski
EU Court Upholds Three-Year-Old Ban in Seal Product Imports. Canada's embattled sealing industry was dealt another blow Thursday when a European Union court upheld the EU's three-year-old ban on seal products. The General Court of the European Union issued a statement saying it rejected a challenge from a group that includes the Canadian Fur Institute, the seal processing industry and one of Canada's largest Inuit groups. The Luxembourg-based court said the existing ban is valid because it fairly harmonizes the EU market while protecting the economic and social interests of Inuit communities. CTV News
Hands Across the Melting Ice (Op-Ed). With global warming rapidly melting Arctic sea ice and glaciers making valuable stores of energy and minerals more accessible, voices of doom are warning of inevitable competition and potential conflict - a new "Great Game" among the five Arctic coastal nations. In fact, the Arctic states of North America, Europe and Russia, working with indigenous peoples and a number of non-Arctic states, already have taken steps to ensure just the opposite: that the Arctic remains a zone of cooperation, peace and stable, sustainable development. New York Times
Aboriginal Groups Call for Arctic Energy Moratorium. Aboriginal groups from every Arctic country have signed a statement that calls for an end to offshore drilling and a pause in northern energy projects unless local aboriginals consent. The statement was released Monday in Kiruna, Sweden, two days before leaders from the eight circumpolar nations meet and hand over chairmanship of the Arctic Council to Canada. Energy Tribune
Arctic Council to Weigh Japan, China, South Korea Observer Status Bids. The United States, Russia and six other nations will hold an Arctic Council ministerial meeting Wednesday in Sweden and topping the agenda will be the question of whether to grant Japan, China and South Korea permanent observer status. The meeting in Kiruna, northern Sweden, comes as countries increasingly look to the Arctic for its untapped oil, gas and rare earth deposits, and possibilities for new shipping routes and fishing grounds due to the rapidly melting ice. Japan Times
Secretary Kerry's Remarks with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. "Okay, warmly welcome. It's a great pleasure for me to welcome Secretary of State John Kerry to Sweden and Stockholm only a few months after his appointment. It's a sign of the excellent bilateral relations between Sweden and the United States. Links between our two countries go far back in history, and the King and Queen of Sweden and Vice President Joe Biden celebrated last week the foundation of the colony New Sweden situated in Delaware some 375 years ago.At the heart of our relations are the core values that we share: freedom, democracy, respect for human rights. It's also the same values that Raoul Wallenberg stood up for. But the U.S. is also a key partner in trade and investment. Sweden is actually one of the largest investors per capita in the U.S. Sweden's foreign - Swedish foreign direct investment and trade with Sweden create around 250,000 jobs in the U.S." Department of State
Arctic Expedition to Study Impact of Climate Change on Plankton. Tara will soon set sail for the Arctic again. The famous schooner will cast off from Lorient in Brittany on Sunday 19 May for a seven-month expedition via the Northeast Passage along Russia's Arctic coast, returning through the Northwest Passage. The goal of the 25,000km Tara Oceans Polar Circle Expedition, with some 15 scientist on board, is to search for planktonic organisms, including viruses, bacteria, protists and metazoans, all vital resources that need to be studied in their own environment while there is still time. The Guardian
No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.
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.
10th International Symposium on Cold Regions Development (ISCORD 2013) (June 2-5, 2013) (Anchorage, Alaska) The International Association for Cold Regions Development Studies (IACORDS) and the Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) will host a conference on "Planning for Sustainable Cold Regions." Special Keynote Sessions each day include "Bridging the Gap Between Climate Change Science and Engineering Practice"; "The Challenges of the Debris from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake in Japan"; and "Energy in Alaska - Current and Future Projects."
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 (see 6/25 forum titled "US Government Investment in Arctic Change Research"). 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.
7th International Workshop on Ice Drilling Technology (September 9-13, 2013) (Madison, WI). The event is sponsored by the Ice Drilling Program Office- Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDPO--IDDO), International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS), International Glaciological Society (IGS). Following in the footsteps of the sixprevious ice drilling technology workshops held between 1974 and 2006, the Seventh International Workship on Ice Drilling Technology will take a comprehensive look a the latest innovations in ice drilling technology, including ice coring, borehole logging, subglacial sampling, core logging and handling, and field logistics.
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.
Community Oil Spill Response in Bering and Anadyr Straights, (November 7-8, 2013) (Anchorage, Alaska). This workshop will bring together a diversity of stakeholders to advance a collective dialog 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.
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.