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Arctic Daily Update: September 30, 2013

 
 
 

 

The Senate and House of Representatives continue to grapple with a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government into Fiscal Year 2014, with the deadline looming at the end of the day.


Media   

 

Murkowski 2 Begich Alaska elected leaders differ on cause of and response to climate change. "Do you believe there is a human-caused element to climate change? Gov. Sean Parnell: 'Climate change is occurring. Both human and natural elements, like volcanic eruptions, are responsible.' Sen. Lisa Murkowski, through spokesman Robert Dillon: 'She's never denied climate change. She believes that human activity is a contributing factor to changes in the climate.'" Anchorage Daily News

 

NOAA scientists document new walrus haulout in Alaskan Arctic. Tipped off by reports from the local community, NOAA scientists were the first to photograph from the air and document thousands of burly, mustachioed mammals lounging on the shore near Pt. Lay, Alaska this summer. The team's small airplane carried digital cameras for documenting whale sightings, so they took aerial photos of the crowded beach and shared them with colleagues at partner agencies. It turned out those photos were evidence of a relatively new phenomenon. Due to loss of sea ice in offshore areas, Pacific walruses are foraging in more coastal areas and using beaches for resting, or hauling out. NOAA

 

Friend or foe? Villagers ponder proposed Pebble mine. "In the vast, green, windswept tundra of Southwest Alaska, the planet's greatest remaining stronghold of wild salmon, an open-pit mine of staggering proportions is being hatched. Right now it's just a cluster of buildings in a remote valley, where the silence is broken by the buzz of helicopters bringing workers to collect core samples. But the proposed Pebble mine could become the largest open-pit mine on the continent, and the Environmental Protection Agency figures it could wipe out nearly 100 miles of streams and thousands of acres of wetlands." Anchorage Daily News

 

Can Beaufort region learn from Barents Arctic transportation plan? "Transportation ministers from the four Barents countries -- Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway -- released the Joint Barents Transport Plan this week in conjunction with the Narvik Conference on Arctic shipping and development in Norway. The plan covers everything from railway and roads to ports and air travel. Experts say comprehensive regional planning will allow the Barents countries to take advantage of increased economic activity in the European Arctic." Alaska Dispatch

 

Oil Drilling in Alaska Oil companies seek to drill in deep Beaufort Sea. "Imperial Oil Canada, Exxon Mobil and BP have jointly filed an application to drill at least one well in the Beaufort Sea 125 kilometres northwest of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T. The project description Imperial Oil has submitted says they are planning to drill one or more wells in unspecified locations on two exploration licences and they will drill between three and six kilometres into the sea floor. The almost 500-page-long project description doesn't say how much it would cost to drill in the deep Beaufort but the partners won the rights to explore the area by pledging to spend a total of $1.7 billion." CBC News

 

Mine dispute intensifies in Arctic Sweden. "Sami reindeer herders and mining companies have coexisted uneasily in the forests of northern Sweden since 1890, when the region's first modern mine opened in the town of Kiruna, a few dozen miles north of the Arctic Circle. In the contest for natural resources that followed, both sides kept up with the times. The Kiruna complex grew into the world's largest iron ore mine, and the indigenous Sami - who have lived in the area for more than 4,000 years - now use snowmobiles and helicopters to herd their reindeer." Barents Observer

 

Northern Sea Route: Sabetta Port seen as focal point. "During a meeting on the implementation of the Yamal LNG project, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted the value of the seaport of Sabetta for further development of the Northern Sea Route, reports 'Arctic Info'. According to the President, the volume of traffic on the Northern Sea Route this year was 1.5 million tonnes. By 2015, this figure may reach 4 million tons, and he considered that the construction of the modern Arctic port, with construction funds of 47.3 billion rubles, should consolidate this trend." Marine Link

 

Forum discusses Arctic oil And gas searches. "A protest in the Russian Arctic has dramatized growing problems with oil drilling there. Every country has a stake in the enormously lucrative search for oil and gas in the Arctic, says retired professor Lawson Brigham. But pollution from reckless attempts at development are evident on an island near the Polar circle." NPR

 

Russian court remands last of Greenpeace Arctic oil protesters. "A Russian court has ordered eight remaining Greenpeace activists be held in custody for two months over a protest against Arctic offshore drilling, the environment advocacy group said on Sunday, dashing any hope some might be released quickly. Authorities detained all 30 members of the pressure group who were aboard icebreaker the Arctic Sunrise when they broke up attempts to scale state-run Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya offshore oil platform on September 18. Of those, 22 people, including a freelance photographer and crew members had already been remanded until November 24 while officials investigate charges of piracy which Greenpeace denies." Reuters

 

Norway Oil Development Opinion: Arctic drilling needs federal standards. "Federal standards are needed to ensure safe Arctic drilling, a new report says. The report, 'Arctic Standards: Recommendations on Oil Spill Prevention, Response, and Safety in the U.S. Arctic Ocean' from Pew Charitable Trusts, comes in advance of a draft of standards for offshore Arctic drilling due to be released by the U.S. Interior Department before the end of this year. Interior initiated the process to update its regulations following its review of Shell's 2012 Alaska offshore oil and gas exploration program." UPI 

 

Opinion: Drill, comrade, drill: Why the Kremlin's Arctic plan worries activists. "The way the Kremlin sees it, the vast treasures being revealed by the retreating Arctic ice - oil, gas, iron ore, minerals-are Russia's manifest destiny, with Moscow writing a new chapter in the history of the desolate, once-frozen region. It's a narrative that hasn't had much challenge in Russia. But now, after a daring raid on a drilling platform by Greenpeace, the gunpoint arrest of 30 activists, and threatened charges of piracy and terrorism, environmentalists are hoping for scrutiny of how these Arctic resources are developed." Christian Science Monitor


Legislative Action

  

No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation, Friday. 

 


Future Events

 

Pacific Rim Institute Panel Discussion: Environmental Permitting Process Risks and Efficiency, October 4, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska). "Hosted by Pacific Rim Institute, the discussion brings together Alaska's regulating, regulated, science and NGO communities to identify realistic and achievable actions that could help sustain and enhance investment into responsible resource development projects while maintaining full compliance with environmental laws. The group will be asked to comment on the record of effectiveness, what is working well and what could be improved, to identify priorities and action items. Consistent with PRI's mission, the meeting aims to promote trust and to reduce uncertainly around regulatory risks by encouraging predictable, efficient, rigorous permitting process, while highlighting consequences of, what some may call, arbitrary or untimely decisions." 
 

 

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 Arctic Circle, an open assembly for international cooperation on Arctic issues, will hold its first gathering October 12-14, 2013, at the Harpa Reykjavík Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavík, Iceland. This event will facilitate working meetings across issues and organizations and provide a forum for discussions hosted by different international and Arctic institutions. Agenda topics will include emerging topics of interest, such as sea ice melt and extreme weather, security, fisheries and ecosystem management, shipping and transportation infrastructure, Arctic resources and tourism."

 
International Forum on Polar Data Activities in Global Data Systems, October 15-16, 2013 (Tokyo, Japan). "The Forum will cover topics on effective polar data management, including submission of metadata and data, sharing of data to facilitate new interdisciplinary science, and long-term preservation and stewardship of data from a global viewpoint. Presentations on the successes and challenges encountered during IPY will highlight not only the best practices learned but also what must yet be done to ensure the data legacy of IPY. 

Presenters from all scientific disciplines are welcome, and interdisciplinary data management topics are especially encouraged. A significant outcome of the Forum will be the development of a new strategy and structure for the Arctic Data Coordination Network under the auspices of the Sustaining Arctic Observing Network (SAON), IASC, and the Arctic Council. Fruitful discussions between the polar data community (SC-ADM, NADC, and SAON) and WDS-oriented contributors on data management issues are expected to give new horizons on data management and to forge interdisciplinary relationships. In particular, a new plan for polar data archives, such as PIC cloud, is expected to be sufficiently promoted."

 

Draft Agenda

 

Registration closes September 30.

  

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

  

17th Sitka WhaleFest: "Arctic Sea Change: What's Ahead?" October 31 - November 3, 2013, (Sitka, Alaska). "Sitka WhaleFest presents a unique science symposium blending local knowledge and scientific inquiry concerning the rich marine environment of our northern oceans. Surrounded by community and cultural activities, the weekend events include symposium lectures, interactive student sessions, marine wildlife cruises with scientists, a marine-themed artisan market, music, local foods, student art show, and a fun run/walk."

 

"The Arctic is changing. This is an indisputable fact. How the people and animals who depend upon the Arctic will adapt to change is an open question. How will narwhals and polar bears cope with less summer ice? Bowhead whales may have their world rocked when humpbacks, fins and other baleen whales begin - they already are - feeding in their backyard. The resource users of the Arctic will need to make adjustments and changes to live in this new world. Who will be the sea winners and sea losers? These are questions we will discuss with the experts who are passionate about the Arctic."
 

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." 

 

Maritime & Arctic Security Conference (MAS13), November 12-13, 2013 (St. John's, NL, Canada). "For decades the Arctic has received increasing attention from the international community related to factors/considerations such as environmental, geopolitical, strategic, and security. More recently with shrinking Arctic ice leading to the pursuance of off-shore resources and the

opening of northern shipping routes, over a relatively short period of time we are seeing maritime security considerations start to blend with arctic security." 

 

"With a focus on Economic Development, Security and Public Safety, MAS13 will bring together organizations that play a key role in the execution of Maritime & Arctic Security: whether that role be Cultural, Research, Government Policy/Regulation, Education, Surveillance, Enforcement, and Technology Development/Application." 

 

Full Conference Agenda

 
Alaska Water and Sewer Challenge Request for Proposals Released August 15.  The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Village Safe Water announces a research and development effort to seek better and more affordable methods to deliver drinking water and sewage disposal services to communities in rural Alaska. The three-month long, international solicitation calls for individuals from a variety of diverse fields - engineering, science and research, behavioral science, and innovative design - to organize as teams and submit Statements of Qualifications. Up to six of the top ranked teams will be funded to develop proposals over a six month period next year. Future phases of the project include building prototypes and testing them in lab and field settings. 

 

For more information about the project please: 

 

 

 
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 scientific research and 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."

Association of American Geographers Polar Geography Sessions, April 8-12, 2014. Tampa, Florida. Polar Geography Sessions are being planned in areas such as Sustainable Development in the Arctic, Urbanization and Transportation in the Arctic, etc. Contact Scott Stephenson (stephenson@ucla.edu) for more information, and see attached flyer. 

 

Arctic Science Summit Week April 5-8, 2014 and Arctic Observing Summit, April 9-11, Helsinki, Finland. ASSW is a gathering for Arctic research organizations. Any organization engaged in supporting and facilitating arctic research is welcome to participate. The ASSW meeting in 2014 will be arranged during April 5-8 in Helsinki Kumpula Campus, in the facilities of FMI and Physics Department of the University of Helsinki. Second circular here

 

International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences, May 22-26, 2014 (Prince George, British Columbia). "The International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) announces the 8th International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS VIII).  ICASS is held every three years, bringing together people from all over the world to share ideas about social science research in the Arctic. ICASS VII, held in Akureyri in June 2011, attracted 450 participants from 30 different countries.  ICASS VIII's theme is Northern Sustainabilities. By using the plural, we underscore both that "sustainability" has social, cultural, economic, political and environmental dimensions, and that definitions of the concept vary."
 
IceTech14: International Conference and Exhibition on Performance of Ships and Structures in Ice, July 28-31, 2014 (Banff, Alberta, Canada). "The focus will be on the general theme of performance of ships and structures in ice - but with emphasis and special sessions on looking to the future in a warming world. Coverage will include technical aspects of offshore operations in Arctic and ice populated waters, as well related ice mechanics, icebreaking and ice resistance, global warming and geopolitical effects, safety and EER, subsea facilities and operations, and other relevant subjects in a polar context particularly in view of current global concerns. Both technical papers and selected panel sessions will be included. We will also continue to host a small commercial exhibition for organizations wishing to set up stand."
 
Abstract Submission Deadline: November 17,  2013

USARC • 4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 510 • Arlington, Virginia 22203 USA • 703.525.0111 • info@arctic.gov  arctic.gov

 

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