Arctic Daily Update: May 21, 2013
The Senate resumes consideration of a the farm bill. The House will consider six measures under suspension of the rules; three of them relate to veterans.
US Coast Guard to Unveil Arctic Strategy. The U.S. Coast Guard's value to the nation resides in our proven ability to protect those on the sea, protect the United States from threats delivered by sea and protect the sea itself. Our unique authorities, capabilities, competencies and partnerships as a military, law enforcement, regulatory and humanitarian service are central to that value proposition. We are recognized worldwide for our ability to execute these diverse maritime missions over vast geographic areas and under the most challenging and demanding conditions. As we prepare for the future, the emerging maritime frontier of the Arctic is significantly expanding our operating area. US Coast Guard blog
House Advances Maritime Security Bill. The House on Monday passed a bill that would establish definitions and penalties for nuclear terrorism and maritime hijacking to bring U.S. law into compliance with international treaties. Lawmakers advanced the measure (HR 1073) 390-3 under suspension of the rules. Over the last few decades, the United States has entered into several international treaties to improve the security of offshore oil platforms and prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Supporters of the bill have said U.S. law needs to be updated to meet the treaty obligations. Congressional Quarterly
Alaska Pushes DC on ANWR Drilling. Alaskan officials are hoping to prod the federal government into measuring the amount of oil and gas beneath the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and are offering state money as part of their plan to push the project forward. "Alaska is willing to help complete the work the federal government seems unwilling to do," Gov. Sean Parnell said via webcast from a Chamber of Commerce event Monday announcing the initiative. Politico
Pavlof Volcano Continues to Erupt; Some Flights Canceled. An Alaska volcano eruption is prompting regional airlines to cancel flights to nearby communities, including a town that reported traces of fallen ash. Pavlof Volcano released ash plumes as high as 22,000 feet over the weekend, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory. Clouds obscured the volcano Monday, but U.S. Geological Survey scientists said seismic instruments at the volcano show continuing tremors. Anchorage Daily News
Do Iliamna Lake Seals Warrant an Endangered Species Listing. Last week, National Marine Fisheries Service officials made the decision to consider listing a harbor seal population in Lake Iliamna as endangered or threatened--yet another piece of wood on the controversial fire that is the Pebble Mine project. In the coming months, the federal agency will continue to review the latest research to make a final decision on the status of the seals. This latest development has sparked a debate between the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pebble Partnership. KTUU
Judge: Salmon Run's Survival Trumps Religious Rights of Alaska Native Fishermen. One by one, Yupik fishermen from along the Kuskokwim River appeared before an Alaska District Court judge here Monday to be judged guilty of violating a state salmon closure nearly a year ago. What began as a hot protest beneath a warm sun last June had 11 months later, with ice still clinging to the Kusko, become a legalistic ritual in which some decided they no longer wanted to take part. Alaska Dispatch
Kulluk Grounding: Shell Oil Testimony Opens Coast Guard Hearing in Anchorage. A subdued Anchorage Assembly chambers turned into a federal courtroom of sorts Monday as members of the U.S. Coast Guard questioned Royal Dutch Shell officials over the grounding of one of its prized Arctic drilling vessels in stormy Gulf of Alaska winter weather. The Coast Guard's formal marine casualty investigation hearings began by recounting events leading to the New Year's Eve grounding of the Kulluk conical drilling unit off the shores of Sitkalidak Island, near Kodiak Island. Alaska Dispatch
Caribou Numbers Crash 95% on Canada's Baffin Island. New results from a caribou survey on south Baffin Island confirm what many have been saying: The animals have largely disappeared from the region. The data suggest the population may have declined by more than 95 per cent in the last two decades. Researchers estimate the entire South Baffin population to now be at around 1,000 to 2,000 animals. Estimates from the early 1990s ranged from about 60,000 to 180,000, but this new survey is the first comprehensive count of the animals. Nunavut environment minister James Arreak presented the results in the Nunavut legislative assembly. Alaska Dispatch
Alaska Governor Launches Bid to Measure Oil in Arctic Refuge. For decades, war has been waged over the holy grail of America's Arctic frontier, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The wide coastal plain on the edge of the Beaufort Sea contains stunning populations of caribou, grizzly, musk oxen and other wildlife -- and also an abundant pool of oil and gas. While Congress has periodically taken steps to consider opening up oil and gas development in the refuge, President Obama and many congressional Democrats have rebuffed any drilling on what conservationists often call America's Serengeti. LA Times
New Report Urges Action on Arctic Protection. Dartmouth and its partners in the University of the Arctic Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy (IACP) have issued a report urging the adoption of new shipping rules, improved safeguards against oil spills, and the creation of environmental and safety standards in polar waters. The report calls for action by the Arctic Council, the intergovernmental organization for the eight Arctic states - Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States - and encourages the council to expand on the report's recommendations at its May 15 meeting in Sweden. Environmental Research Web
WCS Informs Discussion of Responses to a Changing Arctic. In two critical reports released at the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna, Sweden on May 15th, the scientific expertise of the Wildlife Conservation Society helped inform an international body of senior government officials about changing conditions in the Arctic, and potential responses to those changes. The scientific reports reviewed by the ministers are products of contributions from various experts, representing a range of knowledge and traditions-including indigenous perspectives. Phys.Org
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.
Arctic Exchange (September 16-17, 2013) (Stockholm). The Exchange brings an evolutionary concept in networking and business information delivery - one that 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 on offer, 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, (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 Straits, (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.