( The Globe and Mail, 15 April 2013) -- China, India and big oil will all be welcome at a new circumpolar forum launched Monday by Iceland’s President Ólafur Grímsson in a move that seems certain to irk some northern nations. The Arctic Council – the group that includes Canada and the seven other circumpolar countries – has been grappling with a slew of demands for participation from China, India and other non-northern nations. Now the launch of the Arctic Circle, which Mr. Grímsson announced on the same day Iceland became the first western nation to sign a free-trade pact with China, will be seen as complicating, if not challenging, the primacy of the Arctic Council in the rapidly changing north. The Arctic Circle forum will be open to all. “Google is interested,” Mr. Grímsson said during a launch speech at the National Press Club in Washington, adding so too were those countries, such as France, currently frustrated by being relegated to non-speaking observer status at the Arctic Council. “We want to be an open tent or a public square,” Mr. Grímsson said, in a pointed reference to the limited membership and governmental Arctic Council that critics regard as exclusive and unwelcoming. “We hope to foster a new type of dialogue,” he said, starting in October when the first gathering of the Arctic Circle opens in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik. ... Mr. Grímsson was careful to say that the Arctic Circle wasn’t intended as a rival or replacement for the Arctic Council. But just as Davos – the high-profile annual gathering of political and business leaders, celebrities and NGOs – often eclipses the more staid and official fora, it’s clear that the Arctic Circle is intended as a high-profile, dynamic conference where India and Google and Greenpeace – and countless others with a stake in the Arctic – need not wait for years hoping they may be allowed to speak.
Posted 16 April 2013; 12:43:01 AM. Permalink
(CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 8 April 2013) -- The principal of Peter Pitseolak High School in Cape Dorset, a community in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, is trying to improve arts programming in the school. Mike Soares says he was surprised to find that arts were not a strong subject in the school when he arrived in the hamlet three years ago since Cape Dorset is famous around the world for Inuit art. “It had pretty much got to the point where art was just paint by numbers,” he said. He says he has a good reason to try to turn that around. “Some of our students over the years have left school because they’ve found that they can produce art and sell it and then school becomes less important, in the same way that in Fort McMurray kids might leave school to go work in the oil patch,” said Soares. Almost half the kids have a carver in their family. Soares has been working with a foundation willing to pay local artists to come and work in the school. Last week, some grade 11 students met with Wen Xie, a Chinese jade carver who was in town for a month to work with other artists. Xie said he feels that students are interested when he talks about the history of carving in China. “I know a lot of kids, like 13, 14, also younger, like 11 years old, they don’t come to school, but they do some soapstone carving. I try to find them to bring them here. I really want to find them,” said Xie. Soares is also working with the National Art Gallery and the Northwest Company to repatriate some works of art so that he can put them on display in the school and inspire others.
Posted 14 April 2013; 2:20:32 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 21 March 2013) -- Over the next couple of days, residents of Iqaluit may see pedestrians carrying some strange-looking equipment on their backs. They’re members of a team working for Google Maps to photograph the city for Google Street View. Team members wear a backpack called a trekker, which has a camera system mounted on it to capture 360-degree street level images. Chris Kalluk, who works with Nunavut Tunngavik in the land department in Cambridge Bay, is one of the trekker operators. "I want more people to be able to visit here without leaving their homes,” he said. “Also to be able to see the place before they come up. They'd have an essential feeling of what it's like up here before they actually move up here or come visit." Kalluk said he's excited to be part of Google's first winter visit to Nunavut. Last summer, the company was in Cambridge Bay taking photos there for Street View. The Google team will be in Iqaluit until Sunday.
Posted 22 March 2013; 9:01:15 PM. Permalink
( Duncan Geere/Wired.co.uk, 16 March 2013) -- Greenland's government has fallen in the wake of an argument in the country over the extent to which foreign oil and mining countries should be allowed to operate in the Arctic. The left-leaning government of the Prime Minister, Kuupik Kleist was rejected by voters in the Arctic country, which has a population of 56,000 that is 89 percent Inuit. The election was dominated by a debate over foreign investors working in Greenland. Speculation that a company called London Mining was planning to use 2,000 Chinese workers to build a vast iron ore mine to serve steel mills in Beijing, and the activities of Cairn Energy who drilled for oil off the Greenland coast in 2011 divided opinion. The election was won in the end by the Siumut party, which secured 42% of the vote, allowing it to form a coalition government, led by Alequa Hammond. She pledged to increase royalties on mining operations, and be more critical of foreign investments. "We are welcoming companies and countries that are interested in investing in Greenland," she told the BBC. "At the same time we have to be aware of the consequences as a people. Greenland should work with countries that have the same values as we have, on how human rights should be respected. We are not giving up our values for investors' sake."
Posted 18 March 2013; 12:18:56 PM. Permalink
(Ben Anderson/Alaska Dispatch, 12 March 2013) -- Recently, a federal appeals court ruling determined that polar bears, those poster children of the effects of climate change, could keep their "threatened" status as listed under the Endangered Species Act, despite objections from the state of Alaska and other entities. Now, the Pacific walrus -- another species that calls Alaska home -- may become another animal to be listed on the basis of climate change's negative effect on its summer sea ice habitat. Another recent court ruling said that a determination can now be made on whether or not to include a backlog of more than 260 species for the endangered species list. ... The walrus was originally listed as a candidate for protection under the ESA in 2011, when a yearlong review by the FWS found that the walrus may merit eventual ESA safeguards. "After review of all the available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing the Pacific walrus as endangered or threatened is warranted," the agency wrote. "Currently, however, listing the Pacific walrus is precluded by higher priority actions to amend the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants." A big part of the recommendation came as a result of receding levels of summertime Arctic sea ice, widely attributed to warming temperatures related to climate change. 2007 marked a record low for Arctic sea ice extent, a record broken again just last year. In 1980, the U.S. Geological Survey says that Arctic sea ice covered about 7.5 million square kilometers. In 2012, it covered less than 3.5 million square kilometers. Those low ice extents were also what led to the polar bear's initial listing as threatened under the ESA in 2008, and Pacific walruses may now face the same fate.
Posted 12 March 2013; 8:13:56 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden via Eye on the Arctic, 11 March 2013) -- The Sami, an indigenous people living in northern Sweden, want higher compensation for their reindeer that are killed by other animals, reports Swedish Radio news. More than 5,000 bear, lynx, wolverine, and wolves are found in Sweden today. That's double the number of predatory wildlife from the time the reindeer compensation system was put in place in the mid-1990s. Most predatory animals live in reindeer areas. The Swedish National Sami Association says many of the 51 Sami reindeer herding communities are having a tough time. The association wants to reduce the numbers of predatory animals in their areas and get more in compensation for reindeer losses. Lena Ek, Sweden's Environmental Minister, says the issue will be taken up this fall when the government presents its plan for predatory wildlife. Sweden needs to be prepared to pay if it wants to continue to protect such animals, she says.
Posted 12 March 2013; 7:58:33 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 11 March 2013) -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a final Northwest Territories devolution deal at the territory's legislature in Yellowknife today. "Negotiators have reached a consensus on the terms of a final devolution agreement," Harper said. The final agreement, as it stands, gives the Northwest Territories more control over its natural resources — it stands to get half the money collected from oil, minerals and diamonds. Based on last year's numbers, that would have added about $69 million to the territory's budget. Five of the territory's seven aboriginal groups signed a consensus document, including Nellie Cournoyea, a former N.W.T. premier and the current chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. "Being part of the agreement, then we're able to ensure we can work together with what we received in our land claims agreement. So it gives us a parity with the territorial government," she said. Harper called it a historic day and applauded the territorial government led by Premier Bob McLeod. He also made a note that the final agreement will not be signed just yet. "Before this agreement is signed, our government will do its part to consult with all impacted aboriginal groups," he said. Lastly, Harper said, "It is time for the people of the Northwest Territories to take control of their destiny."
Posted 11 March 2013; 4:32:54 PM. Permalink
(Sever-Press via Yamal.org, 6 March 2013) -- This year the Department of Agro-industrial Complex, Trade and Provision of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug plans to undertake scientific and research work "Elaboration of the methodology for calculation of reindeer capacity of pastures on the territory of the region". The director of the department, Vyacheslav Kucherenko, explained the project to the conference of Yamal Union of Reindeer Herders, and said the methodology is intended to yield information for substantiating and taking administrative decisions on planning economic and nature-protecting activities and also use for practical aims by economic subjects. By his words, intensive industrial development of Yamal brings to decrease in territories of pastures. At the same time, number of domestic reindeer in the territory of Yamalskiy and Tazovskiy districts stays on the high level, which brings to more intensive use of reindeer pastures. Thus, it is necessary to elaborate the methodology and to calculate reindeer capacity of pastures on the territory of the region.
Posted 11 March 2013; 4:27:10 PM. Permalink
(Felicity Barringer/New York Times, 6 March 2013) -- At a time when large dams are being taken down, not put up, the state of Alaska is proposing to construct one of the tallest and most expensive hydroelectric dams ever built in North America. The Alaska Energy Authority is planning to build a 735-foot, $5.2 billion structure on the Susitna River in a largely empty south-central part of the state, which is watered by runoff from the arc of the Alaska Range. The dam, designed to generate up to 600 megawatts of electricity, would create a new power supply for more than two-thirds of the state’s population. But in Alaska, where natural energy resources and wildlife are both foundations of the economy, the proposed dam presents twin conundrums. One is economic: which is better, creating a reliable source of hydroelectricity and weaning some of the state off natural gas, or building a spur off a proposed pipeline to bring gas from the North Slope to the populated region from Fairbanks to the Kenai Peninsula? Or both? The other is environmental: what serves the environment best, replacing natural gas-fired electricity with hydroelectricity, which is free of greenhouse gas emissions, or keeping the Susitna watershed untrammeled and avoiding the risks involved in changing the dynamics of a major salmon stream? ...
Posted 10 March 2013; 8:56:17 PM. Permalink
(CBC e, 6 March 2013) -- Ottawa has signed a $288 million contract for the design of new Arctic offshore patrol ships as part of its shipbuilding procurement project. The federal government and J.D. Irving signed a 30-month planning and engineering definition contract that will establish what ships to build and how to build them. The contract with Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax was announced by Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose on Thursday. Neither would say how many Arctic patrol ships would be built under the deal. The original estimate was between six and eight. The contract is expected to support up to 200 jobs in Nova Scotia. Irving said there will be an additional 75 jobs in other provinces. Ambrose said the design contract will ensure that construction of the ships can begin once the build contract is signed. Construction of the vessels is expected to begin in 2015.
Posted 10 March 2013; 7:26:24 PM. Permalink
(Laurel Andrews/Alaska Dispatch, 10 March 2013) -- It’s a bird, it’s a plane – no wait, it’s a blimp! For the first time since the 1920s, a modern day airship will travel to Alaska this summer to conduct field work and show off its potential for becoming a permanent fixture in Alaska’s skies. Francis Grover, business manager with Skyship Services, said the company is “quite excited” for the northward journey. The blimp, a Skyship 600, will arrive in early July and plans to stick around until September. Lifting off from Orlando, Fl., the blimp will travel for 6 weeks at speeds of 40 miles per hour before it lands in the 49th state, making stops along the way. The Skyship 600 is the largest blimp in operation in the world, at a length of 200 feet; it's able to carry a 2 ton payload, and 15 passengers at a time. The blimp will usually cruise for around 18 hours at a time, but its record for staying aloft is 50 hours straight, Grover said. During its time in the state, the airship will conduct surveys for oil companies of wetlands and other vegetative areas; Grover declined to name the companies it will be working for. He also hopes the company will “spead some goodwill” during its time in Alaska and show off the potential airships have in the Last Frontier. The company hopes to make return trips to the state, and eventually have airships based in Alaska full-time. According to a press release sent out by Alaska Sen. Lesil McGuire, blimps have potential as “outstanding platforms for aerial surveys” due to their slow speeds and low altitude flying.
Posted 10 March 2013; 7:23:58 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 8 March 2013) -- The Tlicho Government will formally sign on to the N.W.T.’s devolution agreement-in-principle at a ceremony today at 3:30 p.m. in Behchoko. The Tlicho are the last aboriginal group with a settled land claim to sign on to the agreement to transfer control of public land and resources from the federal government to the N.W.T. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected in Yellowknife on Monday, and it is anticipated he will announce a final devolution agreement has been reached. However, the final agreement won't be signed right away as the territorial government still plans to do community consultations before sealing the deal.
Posted 10 March 2013; 7:22:01 PM. Permalink
(NASA/ Goddard Space Flight Center press release via Science Daily, 10 March 2013) -- Vegetation growth at Earth's northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the south, according to a NASA-funded study based on a 30-year record of land surface and newly improved satellite data sets. An international team of university and NASA scientists examined the relationship between changes in surface temperature and vegetation growth from 45 degrees north latitude to the Arctic Ocean. Results show temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982. "Higher northern latitudes are getting warmer, Arctic sea ice and the duration of snow cover are diminishing, the growing season is getting longer and plants are growing more," said Ranga Myneni of Boston University's Department of Earth and Environment. ... Myneni and colleagues used satellite data to quantify vegetation changes at different latitudes from 1982 to 2011. Data used in this study came from NOAA's Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometers (AVHRR) onboard a series of polar-orbiting satellites and NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on the Terra and Aqua satellites. The study was published on March 10, in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Posted 10 March 2013; 7:13:14 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 8 March 2013) -- The national park “Russian Arctic” could have had 20-25 000 more tourists if it had been easier to get a visa and if there had been a border-crossing point on Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land, the park’s administration says according to the web site travel.ru. The national park lacks every kind of infrastructure, but this is precisely what the tourists come to experience. The Russian settlements of Svalbard are other places that many foreign visitors would like to visit if it was easier accessible. Norwegian hotels on Svalbard are visited by nearly 80.000 people every year, with an annual growth of 10 percent over the last years. Meanwhile, the Russian settlements of Barentsburg and Piramida draw less than 2500 people annually. The niche of Arctic winter tourism is booming as the world opens its eyes for the combination of winter, ocean and northern lights, and tourists are willing to pay a high price to experience the untouched nature. Russia has big plans for developing tourism in the Arctic. The national park “Russian Arctic” was established in 2011. It includes the northern part of Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Land and Victoria Island and covers almost 1,5 million hectares of territory. The Russian Federal Tourism Agency is planning to develop a brand that can help promote the Russian part of Svalbard as a tourist destination, as BarentsObserver wrote.
Posted 10 March 2013; 6:51:04 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 7 March 2013) -- A proposal by the United States to ban cross-border trade in polar bears and their parts was defeated Thursday at an international meeting of conservationists, marking a victory for Canada's Inuit over their big neighbour to the south. Delegates at the triennial meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, rejected Washington's proposal to change the status of the polar bear from a species whose trade is merely regulated, not banned. The proposal fell far short of the two-thirds needed to pass, garnering 38 votes in favour, 42 against and 46 abstentions. A similar proposal was defeated three years ago at the last CITES meeting. While support for most of the meeting's 70 proposals covering the trade in other species fell along predictable lines, the U.S. proposal made for some odd bedfellows. Russia endorsed Washington's proposal, which was also supported by a cluster of animal humane societies. Canada was joined in opposition by some of the larger conservation organizations, including the CITES Secretariat and the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network, better known as TRAFFIC. The worldwide population of polar bears is estimated to be 20,000 to 28,000, with about two-thirds in Canada. The United States had contended that climate change was dangerously shrinking the bears' habitat, and that pre-emptive measures were needed to save them. ... The U.S. delegation said it was disappointed that the trade ban proposal had failed.
Posted 9 March 2013; 1:37:21 AM. Permalink
(IceNews, 7 March 2013) -- Scottish residents discovered the presence of a rare northerly visitor at the weekend. Thirty-two-year-old birdwatcher Mark Warren from Orkney came across the massive mammal at a beach in North Ronaldsay on Saturday 3 March. But when he told his 28-year-old wife Fleur that he had just spotted a walrus, she had a hard time believing him. According to a report published by the UK news agency the Daily Record, there haven’t been any Walrus sightings in the region for more than two-and-a-half decades. Mrs Warren tod the paper, “I thought Mark was joking at first. It’s just amazing that he has turned up here. He seems happy enough and gives out a grunt. We would not like to get too close, because even though he’s young, he’s still a big animal.” Experts say the visitor is a young male thought to have made its way all the way from Greenland. “I would guess he is about eight or nine years and ready to breed,” said Ross Flett from Orkney Seal Rescue. However, he added, “I doubt he will find love here. It’s bad enough for humans on North Ronaldsay. There’s only about 70 people on the island – and now one lonely walrus too. It may be the search for a mate brought him here but he is certainly disorientated and off course.” The last confirmed sighting of a Walrus on in the area was in 1986, when a walrus managed to end up on a shore in Eynhallow.
Posted 9 March 2013; 1:22:12 AM. Permalink
(David M. Herszenhorn/New York Times via Anchorage Daily News, 4 March 2013) -- MOSCOW -- With relations between Russia and the United States increasingly frosty because of entrenched disagreements over Syria, child adoptions, missile systems and other issues, the two countries have quietly joined forces to help polar bears. Russia and the United States, two of the five countries where polar bears live, are now the main allies pushing for greater protection for the bears under a global treaty on endangered species, which is being reviewed this week at a conference in Bangkok. "It really seems that both countries were willing to put aside their differences in order to work together to help save the polar bear," said Jeffrey Flocken, North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Russia's decision to cooperate with the United States not only defies a recent wave of anti-Americanism here, but it also reverses Moscow's opposition to a similar U.S. proposal at the endangered species conference three years ago. The impetus for this shift may be the increasing danger to polar bears and the return to the presidency of Vladimir V. Putin, who often expresses his personal affection for wildlife and has declared 2013 to be the "Year of the Environment" in Russia.
Posted 4 March 2013; 5:35:49 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 4 March 2013) -- The federal electoral district of Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik-Eeyou keeps its name and gains two new communities in the south. That’s according to a new map of the riding released last week by the federal Electoral Boundaries Commission. The independent commission proposes every 10 years, following a national census, how to redistribute Canada’s federal ridings to reflect population changes in Canada. After this redistribution, there will be 338 seats in the House of Commons. The commission’s recommendations for change don’t affect Nunavut, which, like the other two territories, keeps its own riding. The commission had first suggested that the name of the riding that includes Nunavik should change from Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik-Eeyou to Abitibi-Nunavik, but its proposal doesn’t call for a separate riding for the Nunavik region, something Nunavik has lobbied for since 1972. “The redistribution of boundaries of federal electoral districts by which the territory of Nunavik would fall under two electoral districts do not take into consideration community of interest and identity,” stated a resolution passed last September at a meeting of the Kativik Regional Government councillors in Kuujjuaq. The commission said its main goal is to set boundaries so each riding would contain roughly the same number of people — 101,321 — for all of Quebec’s 78 federal ridings.
Posted 4 March 2013; 4:34:31 PM. Permalink
(Neal Lineback and Mandy Lineback Gritzner/Geography in the News&tm;, 3 March 2013) -- One of the world’s most grueling races, Alaska’s Iditarod Dog Sled Race, began today, March 3rd. The history and geography of this magnificent race excite followers all over the world as the race is one of the most challenging for humans and their teams of dogs. Sixty-six teams registered for the race and many are repeat entries. The Iditarod is an annual race through Alaska where mushers and teams of dogs cover about 1,150 miles (1,853 km) in eight to 15 days. The Iditarod competition began in 1973 as a test of the best dogs and mushers in the state and has evolved into a highly competitive and popular race. Teams often encounter blizzards with whiteout conditions, aggressive wild game animals, and sub-zero weather and gale-force winds that can create wind chill temperatures reaching minus 100 degrees F (-75 degrees C).
Posted 4 March 2013; 4:31:11 PM. Permalink
(David Pugliese/Ottawa Citizen, 3 March 2013) -- OTTAWA — Conservative government budget cuts are forcing Canada’s army to scale back activities in the Arctic and cease training in other areas such as deserts and mountains, according to documents obtained by the Citizen. The army is bearing the brunt of cuts to the Canadian Forces and will see its budget reduced by 22 per cent over the next several years. The budget will drop from $1.5 billion to just under $1.2 billion by 2015. The reductions will affect how the army trains as well as its operations. The decision to scale back on Arctic missions flies in the face of the Conservative government’s high-profile efforts to increase the military’s presence in the North. The army, however, indicates it has no other choice as it is struggling with the excessive price tag of operating in the Arctic. “Recent Northern exercises and operations highlight the fact that conduct of these activities can cost from five to seven times more than if they were conducted in Southern Canada,” noted the Jan. 31 planning document from army commander Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin. “The Army will have to limit/reduce the scope of its activities in the North, thus directly impacting on Canada’s ability to exercise Arctic sovereignty.” The document, to provide direction on how the army will conduct its business this year and next, was leaked to the Citizen.
Posted 4 March 2013; 4:19:13 PM. Permalink
(NOAA press release, 28 February 2013) -- NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey has issued an updated Arctic Nautical Charting Plan, as a major effort to improve inadequate chart coverage for Arctic areas experiencing increasing vessel traffic due to ice diminishment. The update came after consultations with maritime interests and the public, as well as with other federal, state, and local agencies. “As multi-year sea ice continues to disappear, vessel traffic in the Arctic is on the rise,” said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, NOAA Coast Survey director. “This is leading to new maritime concerns about adequate charts, especially in areas increasingly transited by the offshore oil and gas industry and cruise liners,” Glang said. Commercial vessels depend on NOAA to provide charts and publications with the latest depth information, aids to navigation, accurate shorelines, and other features required for safe navigation in U.S. waters. But many regions of Alaska’s coastal areas have never had full bottom bathymetric surveys, and some haven’t had more than superficial depth measurements since Captain Cook explored the northern regions in the late 1700s. “Ships need updated charts with precise and accurate measurements,” said Capt. Doug Baird, chief of Coast Survey’s marine chart division. “We don’t have decades to get it done. Ice diminishment is here now.” NOAA plans to create 14 new charts to complement the existing chart coverage.
Posted 1 March 2013; 2:23:50 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 20 February 2013) -- The Russian Government has approved the strategic program on Arctic development up to 2020, signed by President Vladimir Putin. The strategic program, which was published by the government today and signed by President Vladimir Putin, includes development of an integrated transport system in the Arctic, establishment of a competitive scientific and technological sector, development of international cooperation and the preservation of the Arctic as a zone of peace. The document, which is quite general in its formulations and covers almost every aspect of management of this huge area, guarantees state support to the development of infrastructure for transport, industry and energy, as well as to scientific, scientific-technical and innovational activities. During the first stage of implementation of the program (to 2015) Russia plans to focus on development of infrastructure for communication and information in the High North, establishment of centers for search and rescue along the Northern Sea Route, strengthening of FSB’s coast guard service and development of an integrated national system for environmental monitoring of the Arctic zone. The program on Arctic development states the main priorities for state investment policy, regulations of labor relations and social politics in the Arctic zone.
Posted 21 February 2013; 12:56:18 AM. Permalink
(Kelsey Gobroski/KTOO Juneau, 20 February 2013) -- Attu Island is overdue for some spring cleaning. Seventy years after World War II, the island is still littered with shards of old Coke bottles, lead-based batteries, leaking fuel drums and unexploded artillery. This summer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the remote island as a refuge, will survey the extent of World War II debris and contamination. As KTOO news intern Kelsey Gobroski reports, the entire ecosystem could be affected by the decades of pollution. Listen to the full story
(RIA Novosti, 21 February 2013) -- YAKUTSK, February 21 (RIA Novosti) - A new gold deposit has been discovered Russia’s Siberian republic of Yakutia, the region’s economics ministry said on Thursday. The Gora Rudnaya in the republic's Aldan District deposit may hold about 200 metric tons of gold, according to the statement. The deposit has already been registered with the Federal Agency for Subsoil Usage. It will be auctioned shortly after its value is determined. The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), a vast Siberian land of taiga and permafrost, is known for its vast gold and diamond reserves. From Voice of Russia: "Experts knew that it was worth looking at after they assessed the content of gold and ore parameters. The deposit will be put up for auction in three years. Yakutia’s gold output amounted to 21.2 tons last year. "
Posted 21 February 2013; 12:37:38 AM. Permalink
(Ida Korneliussen/ScienceNordic, 20 February 2013) -- When Stone Age hunters missed their targets they inadvertently turned snow patches into treasure chests. ... The bow is nocked and released. The arrow zings through the air. But this was an especially unfortunate shot. Not only did it miss the prey, the arrow drove deep into a snow patch. For some reason it wasn’t retrieved. But it didn’t disappear for good. “We archaeologists are reliant on hunters missing like that,” says Martin Callanan, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), where he teaches in the Department of Archaeology and Religious Studies. “When arrows disappeared deep into snow they sometimes froze there for keeps, until we find them,” he says. One of his favourite artefacts is the arrow that disappointed a hunter 5,400 years ago. Callanan and other NTNU researchers are working with an international project called Snow Patch Archaeology Research Cooperation (SPARC), which has as one of its goals the finding and analysing of hunting weapons in perennial mountain snow patches around the country.
Posted 21 February 2013; 12:23:24 AM. Permalink
(UPI, 20 February 2013) -- NAIROBI, Kenya - Awareness of the issue of melting arctic sea ice is much higher than the international community's attention to the matter, a U.N. official said from Nairobi. Changing climate patterns means international oil and gas companies are looking to exploit the estimated 30 percent of the world's unrecovered natural gas and 70 percent of the world's undiscovered oil under in arctic waters. The U.N. Environment Program, in its annual report, said summer ice sheet in 2012 was 18 percent smaller than the previous low record set in 2007. "Changing environmental conditions in the arctic -- often considered a bellwether for global climate change -- have been an issue of concern for some time, but as of yet this awareness has not translated into urgent action," UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement. Problems with Shell's exploration campaign in northern Alaskan waters last year raised concerns about the potential risk of operating in extreme environments. UNEP said no plans for arctic exploration should move ahead without taking steps to ensure the pristine environment, and those who rely on it, is protected.
Posted 21 February 2013; 12:11:45 AM. Permalink
(Laurence Peter/BBC News, 25 January 2013) -- The toxic legacy of the Cold War lives on in Russia's Arctic, where the Soviet military dumped many tonnes of radioactive hardware at sea. For more than a decade, Western governments have been helping Russia to remove nuclear fuel from decommissioned submarines docked in the Kola Peninsula - the region closest to Scandinavia. But further east lies an intact nuclear submarine at the bottom of the Kara Sea, and its highly enriched uranium fuel is a potential time bomb. This year the Russian authorities want to see if the K-27 sub can be safely raised, so that the uranium - sealed inside the reactors - can be removed. They also plan to survey numerous other nuclear dumps in the Kara Sea, where Russia's energy giant Rosneft and its US partner Exxon Mobil are now exploring for oil and gas. Seismic tests have been done and drilling of exploratory wells is likely to begin next year, so Russia does not want any radiation hazard to overshadow that. ... On the western flank is a closed military zone - the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. It was where the USSR tested hydrogen bombs - above ground in the early days. Besides K-27, official figures show that the Soviet military dumped a huge quantity of nuclear waste in the Kara Sea: 17,000 containers and 19 vessels with radioactive waste, as well as 14 nuclear reactors, five of which contain hazardous spent fuel. Low-level liquid waste was simply poured into the sea. Norwegian experts and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are satisfied that there is no evidence of a radiation leak - the Kara Sea's radioisotope levels are normal. But Ingar Amundsen, an official at the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA), says more checks are needed. The risk of a leak through seawater corrosion hangs over the future - and that would be especially dangerous in the case of K-27, he told BBC News.
Posted 20 February 2013; 11:24:25 PM. Permalink
(Mia Bennett/Foreign Policy Blogs via Eye on the Arctic via Alaska Dispatch, 12 February 2013) -- Australia and the Arctic aren't often mentioned in the same sentence. One tends to hear more about Australia and Antarctica, since the country has an Antarctic Division and carries out scientific research at the icy continent not so far away from Tasmania. But I think that a comparison of Australia and the Arctic, particularly the Northern Territory (NT) and the Canadian Arctic, is a fruitful one. When I came across an Economist article on the NT from last September entitled "Northern lights," I began thinking about the lands under the Aurora Borealis and Australis. Both Australia and the Arctic seen as exotic and remote, albeit at opposite ends of the earth. The NT constitutes Australia's landmass but contains only one percent of the population. Canadian territories, which make up 39.5 percent of the country's land, are similarly sparsely populated, with only 100,000 people (0.3 percent of the population). Both the NT and Canada's territories are resource-rich frontiers with large indigenous populations. The indigenous populations in the NT and in northern Canada, particularly Nunavut, are a higher percentage of the overall population than in the rest of Australia and Canada, respectively. Yet although both regions are in countries that enjoy some of the world's highest living standards, they are relatively underdeveloped hinterlands.
Posted 20 February 2013; 11:20:25 PM. Permalink
(CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 20 February 2013) -- A Yukon biologist says ptarmigan and gyrfalcon populations could be in decline across Canada's northwestern Yukon territory. Dave Mossop says the fluctuations in these two "key" species could be a sign of greater trouble across the food chain. Both populations usually peak in a 10-year cycle but recent bird surveys do not indicate a peak as expected. Mossop says the unexpected change in the cycle could be a result of climate change or other factors. "For the last cycle yes, it declined, for reasons that we don't understand," says Mossop. "But the great hope is that things will re-establish themselves. The 10-year cycle in the boreal system is one of the most obvious things that's happening, and for some reason it faltered. That's kind of where we are now." Mossop says gyrfalcons depend on ptarmigan as a source of food and that the predatory birds will stop breeding when there aren't enough ptarmigan to eat. He says the Yukon Research Centre has access to a database on arctic birds which dates 50 years. Mossup says tracking willow ptarmigan and gyrfalcons is important because the birds are respectively at the bottom and top of the food chain. ... Mossup has studied birds for 40 years. He says he is not certain the birds' decline is irreversible. Still he says it is a curious anomaly in what is usually a well-balanced natural system. "For the ptarmigan, it won't dissapear. But those wonderful peaks we've seen in the past, we're hoping they will restablish themselves. But over the broad scale, so far we haven't seen it happen."
Posted 20 February 2013; 11:13:28 PM. Permalink
(CP via Alaska Dispatch, 19 February 2013) -- It's time to rethink the blimp, a Canadian House of Commons committee suggests in a new report. Airships are often associated with the Hindenberg crash of the 1930s, and their development was overtaken by that of the airplane, reducing their use in recent years mostly to props in ad campaigns. But there's room for certain kinds of them to play a new role in Canada, especially when it comes to reaching remote communities in the North, the transportation committee recommended in a recently released report. "Hybrid air vehicles may one day provide a superior solution, as they can travel over snowfall, frozen water or impenetrable terrain, and require no roads or rail installations to operate," says the report. The committee's look at airships was part of a broader study examining more creative ways to address some of the shortfalls in Canada's transportation sector. When it comes to airships, a number of barriers exist to putting them into more widespread use, the committee heard. Among them is a lack of infrastructure, trained personnel and licensing regimes, said Barry Prentice, a professor at the University of Manitoba and president of ISO Polar Airships, a research institute that promotes the use of the vehicles. His was one of two groups that testified before the committee. Prentice is adamant the time to start developing those capabilities is now.
Posted 19 February 2013; 9:53:07 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 13 February 2013) -- The Sami population on the Kola Peninsula is in a hard demographic situation. Their numbers have declined nearly 10 percent in eight years. According to the 2010 population census there were 1599 Sami living in the region. This is 170 less than in the 2002 census. The sex ratio in the Sami population is changing for the worse; while there were 1173 women for every 1000 men in 2002, the ratio was 1236 to 1000 in 2010. The Sami are the youngest nationality in Murmansk, with an average age of only 31.6 years. The average age of the total population is 37 years. While the majority of the Russian population on the Kola Peninsula lives in towns, most of the Sami in are living in non-urban areas. The settlement of Lovozero in the center of the peninsula is known as “the Sami capital of Russia”. The Sami language is also in a difficult situation in the Murmansk region. Only 17 percent of the Sami population in Murmansk considered Sami language to their native in the 2010 census, m51 reports, citing Murmanstat.
Posted 18 February 2013; 2:50:05 PM. Permalink
(Maxim Shemetov/Reuters, 18 February 2013) -- Oymyakon valley, Russia - One loses all bearings when faced with the shroud of white that obscures all things mid January in the Siberian city of Yakutsk. Only the traffic lights and gas pipelines overhanging the roads help you to find your way. Wrapped in frosty fog the city life seems frozen in a sleepy half-light. It is -48 C (-54 degrees Fahrenheit) outside. Before venturing out, I put on two layers of thermal underwear, trousers, two-sweaters, pants winterized up to my waist, and huge low-temperature boots. I pull close the hood of my down jacket and fasten it so that only my eyes are exposed. Lastly, I slip on two pairs of gloves and head for the entrance hall – the airlock. Now only the ice-bound door separates me from the cold. There is Space outside and I feel like an astronaut. However I do not have enough time to freeze today – the minibus is waiting for me at the corner and I pile in with my gear. Our routes lies along a Stalin-era road that is officially called “Kolyma Federal Highway”. Locals call it “the road on bones” after the thousands of Gulag prisoners who built it in the middle of the 20th century perished. ... After two days on the road, we finally arrive in the Oymyakon valley – the Pole of the Cold. This is the coldest known place in the Northern hemisphere. Thermometers registered a record chill of -67.7 degrees Celsius (-88 degrees Fahrenheit) in 1933 – shortly after weather monitoring began here in the end of the 1920s. [Follow the title link for Shemetov's pictures from the trip.]
Posted 18 February 2013; 1:40:34 PM. Permalink
(Reuters, 15 February 2013) -- Knut, the hand-reared polar bear who captured Germans' hearts before his early death in 2011, returned to his adoring Berlin public on Friday as a life-sized model bearing the animal's real fur. Knut will stand for a month in the entrance foyer of the city's natural history museum, which has modified its entrance for the anticipated rush of visitors, a museum spokeswoman said. The museum is keen to stress that Knut has not been stuffed. Rather, a replica of the bear was made, based on Knut's skeleton, in one of his favorite poses, and this was covered with the creature's pelt, in a procedure known as dermoplasty. The model has expressive eyes and a damp nose, museum director Johannes Vogel said. "I think people will accept Knut, because this is a very dignified model.. People who knew Knut very well while he was alive recognize their Knut here again." Knut was the star attraction of Berlin zoo during his four-year life. His mother rejected him as a new-born leaving the fluffy white cub to be reared by a zookeeper. Thousands of visitors queued for hours to watch him frolic in his enclosure, and he inspired a dizzying array of merchandise. Other German zoos have tried in vain to create celebrity animals. None have ever come close to matching Knut's fame. The bear died suddenly of an epileptic fit in March 2011.
Posted 18 February 2013; 1:21:52 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 18 February 2013 ) -- The Norwegian Government last week decided to establish a new, large university in Norway, the University of Tromsø – Norway's Arctic University. “Together we can develop higher education and research within Norway’s most important target area,” the rectors of the two institutions Jarle Aarbakke and Sveinung Eikeland say in a joint statement. “The name clearly shows the Government’s emphasis on the university as a central tool to ensure the nation’s interests in the north,” the University of Tromsø’s web site reads. Both the establishments are the world’s northernmost in their category. The University of Tromsø was established in 1968 and is the largest research and educational institution in northern Norway. The main focus of the University's activities is on the Auroral light research, space science, fishery science, biotechnology, linguistics, multicultural societies, Saami culture, telemedicine, epidemiology and a wide spectrum of Arctic research projects. The close vicinity of the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research and the Polar Environmental Centre gives Tromsø added weight and importance as an international center for Arctic research. Finnmark University College was established in 1994 and has with three campuses in Alta, Hammerfest and Kirkenes. Minister of Education and Research Kristin Halvorsen says the name of the new university underlines the responsibility the region has: “Through the merge the two institutions will unite, strengthen and develop research and higher education of high quality in the north and in Norway”, NRK writes. The merge will be effective from August 1, 2013.
Posted 18 February 2013; 1:18:51 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 15 February 2013) -- Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has resigned from cabinet, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday. Duncan will continue to serve as an MP for Vancouver Island North. Heritage Minister James Moore will become acting minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development until a new minister is named, Harper said in a statement released by email late Friday afternoon. Duncan was heavily criticized in 2011 for his handling of a housing crisis in the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat. Duncan released a statement minutes after Harper's, in which he admitted to writing a reference letter for someone with a case in front of the Canada Revenue Agency. The letter was sent in June 2011 to the Tax Court of Canada. "While the letter was written with honourable intentions, I realize that it was not appropriate for me, as a Minister of the Crown, to write to the Tax Court. I have therefore offered my resignation as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to the Prime Minister, which he has accepted," Duncan said in the statement. "I take full responsibility for my actions and the consequences they have brought."
Posted 15 February 2013; 2:29:39 PM. Permalink
(The Economist, 9 February 2013) -- ON SEPTEMBER 16th 2012, at the height of the summer melt, the Arctic Ocean’s ice sheet had shrunk to an area of 3.41m square kilometres (1.32m square miles), half what it was in 1979. And its volume had shrunk faster still, .... The world’s average temperature in 2012 was nearly 0.5°C above the average for 1951-80. In the Arctic, it was up almost 2°C. This sudden warming is like the peeling back of a lid to reveal a new ocean underneath. That prospect is spreading alarm (among greens) and excitement (at the natural resources and other economic opportunities that could be unveiled). Though most of the excitement has been about oil and gas, and the opening of sea routes between the Atlantic and the Pacific, some people hope for a fishing bonanza .... But they may be disappointed. At the moment, the waters around the Arctic account for a fifth of the world’s catch. There are few fish, however, under the ice itself. A fishing bonanza would require big ecological change. Arctic Frontiers, a conference organised at the University of Tromso in January, looked at how warming will change the ecology, to estimate whether it will bring one about. The consensus was that it won’t—not because the Arctic will change too little, but because it will change too much. ... The most important reason, though, for thinking that global warming will not produce an Arctic feeding frenzy is that it may increase ocean stratification. This is the tendency of seawater to separate into layers, because fresh water is lighter than salt and cold water heavier than warm. The more stratified water is, the less nutrients in it move around. ... A warming Arctic will not, in other words, be full of fish. It will simply be an ice-free version of the desert it already is.
Posted 11 February 2013; 4:44:10 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 11 February 2013) -- BLAGOVESHCHENSK, February 11 (RIA Novosti) – Police in Russia’s Far East Amur Region have seized some 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds) of mammoth tusks from residents of the neighboring Republic of Yakutia, the regional interior affairs department said on Monday. “Police found 71 tusks weighing about 600 kilograms at a warehouse [in Blagoveschensk],” the department said, adding three men were planning to sell the tusks to Chinese nationals. Police are currently investigating whether the fossils were obtained legally. The world market price of mammoth tusk is almost equal to the price of silver. One kilogram is worth 5,000 rubles ($166) at international auctions in Yakutsk, capital of Yakutia. Some 90 percent of the mammoth remains found so far have come from Yakutia. The region’s extreme weather conditions and permafrost allow scientists to find their remains largely intact.
Posted 11 February 2013; 3:49:39 PM. Permalink
(Nikita Sorokin/Voice of Russia, 1 February 2013) -- Russia’s Regional Development Ministry continues consultations with experts on a proposed ‘Law on the Russian Arctic’. According to the United States Geological Survey, the bed of the Arctic Ocean contains one fourth of the world’s reserves of oil and natural gas. This treasure trove is quickly opening as climate change melts the Arctic Ice Cap. Dr Mikhail Babenko is an oil and gas expert of the Worldwide Fund for Nature: "Seabed minerals, fish and promising transport routes are also becoming available. In 2012, traffic along the Northeast Passage from Europe to Asia posted a sharp rise. Many governments are now after tapping these resources for the sake of speeding up economic growth." Dr Sergei Pryamikov is in charge of international cooperation programmes at Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St Petersburg: "Active Arctic exploration brings together some 15 nations. The treaty on the Svalbard Archipelago now brings together as many as 40. Importantly, China, Japan, South Korea and India are also showing great interest in Arctic resources. Several countries advocate a borderless international zone in the Arctic Ocean. Russia, however, continues to insist that Arctic borders do exist, and drawing them must comply with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea."
Posted 11 February 2013; 1:55:47 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 22 January 2013) -- Officials from China, South Korea and the European Union, all of whom seek a higher level of participation in circumpolar affairs, wooed the Arctic Council Jan. 22 at an Arctic conference in Tromsø, Norway. All three entities seek permanent observer status on the Arctic Council, an upgrade in status that could give them more influence over circumpolar issues. The Arctic Council will decide on new permanent observer applications at a ministerial meeting to be held this May in Stockholm, just before Sweden relinquishes the chairmanship to Canada. The Chinese ambassador to Norway, Zhao Jun, said in a keynote speech Jan. 21 that the accelerating pace of climate change “will significantly influence the landscape of global shipping, trade and energy supply,” matters that are of crucial interest to China. At the same time, he said the international community has so far approached these issues in a spirit of co-operation. “With expanding areas and a tremendous potential, the Arctic co-operation has become more and more institutionalized and mature,” Jun said. To that end, he said China believes the Arctic Council is the most important international forum for discussions about environmental protection and sustainable development in the Arctic.
Posted 1 February 2013; 7:54:13 AM. Permalink
(Office of Senator Murkowski press release via Alaska Native News, 29 January 2013) -- WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, yesterday reintroduced legislation restoring the traditional rights of the Huna Tlingit to gather glaucous-winged gull eggs in Glacier Bay National Park as part of their subsistence hunting activities. “The Huna Tlingit have gathered gull eggs as part of their traditional subsistence activities for centuries – certainly long before Glacier Bay was made into a national park,” Murkowski said. “Gull eggs are part of their traditional diet and cultural identity, and I believe it’s an activity they should be allowed to continue legally.” Glacier Bay National Park in Southeast Alaska is the ancestral homeland of the Huna Tlingit, who traditionally harvested gull eggs at rookeries from the cliffs of Glacier Bay prior to, and following, establishment of the park. Collection was prohibited in the 1960s under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and National Park Service regulations. The National Park Service determined in 2010 that annual harvests would not harm the gull populations in the park, but congressional action is still required to authorize gull egg collection. Murkowski’s legislation would allow tribal members of the Hoonah Indian Association to collect gull eggs up to two times a year at as many as five locations within Glacier Bay National Park. Murkowski introduced similar legislation in 2011, during the 112th Congress. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, plans to introduce companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Posted 30 January 2013; 11:52:27 PM. Permalink
(Elizabeth Kellog/Northumberland Today, 24 January 2013) -- Common redpolls are a circumpolar species. That is, they occur in the Arctic regions of Europe and Asia, as well as North American. They breed on the taiga where they build nests in the scattered, stunted trees that occur so far north. They line their nests with ptarmigan feathers and the fur of arctic fox. Among the common redpolls are frequently found a few of the much less common hoary redpolls. The latter are much whiter in colour with a shorter bill that looks somewhat pushed in. There is some debate at present as to whether these are really two separate species. Recent DNA analysis seems to indicate that they may simply be two colour variants of the same species. The taxonomy jury is still out on this.
Posted 25 January 2013; 1:38:38 PM. Permalink
(Suzanne Goldenberg/The Guardian, 18 January 2013) -- The entire future of Shell's drilling plans in the Arctic was put in doubt on Friday after two of Barack Obama's most trusted advisers called for a permanent halt to oil exploration. In a piece for Bloomberg news, Carol Browner, who was Obama's climate adviser during his first two years in office, and John Podesta, who headed his 2009 transition team, said they now believed there was no safe way to drill for oil in the Arctic. Their opinions come at a critical time for Shell, which has invested six years and nearly $5bn trying to gain access to the vast undersea reserves of oil and natural gas in the Arctic ocean. The Obama administration this month launched a high-level review of Shell's plans for the Arctic, after a series of equipment failures and safety and environmental lapses. The company is also struggling to repair or replace its Kulluk oil rig, which ran aground over the New Year, in order to return to the Arctic when the drilling season re-opens in July. Now two of Obama's advisers are suggesting Shell and other companies should not be operating in the Arctic at all. "Developers and Barack Obama's administration assured us these operations would be safe, thanks to strict oversight and new technology. Now it seems that optimism was misplaced," Browner and Podesta write in a piece for Bloomberg View. "Following a series of mishaps and errors, as well as overwhelming weather conditions, it has become clear that there is no safe and responsible way to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic ocean."
Posted 19 January 2013; 7:25:01 PM. Permalink
(National Post via Vancouver Sun, 17 January 2013) -- Dozens of communities in the country’s North, say hello to the iPhone — or BlackBerry Bold. BCE Inc.’s northern subsidiary, NorthwesTel, announced sweeping modernization plans for Canada’s northern parts Thursday that include rolling out third-generation or “3G” mobile services to 67 communities for the first time. This will be the most ambitious expansion of communications technology ever undertaken in Northern Canada In total, nearly a quarter of a billion dollars will be spent over the next five years deploying more advanced wireless services as well as doubling — and in some cases tripling — Internet speeds across the phone company’s copper network in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. “This will be the most ambitious expansion of communications technology ever undertaken in Northern Canada,” the BCE unit said in a release. A filing was made Wednesday with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which is holding a public consultation on the $233-million proposal. ... Spurred by the Ottawa’s aims to increase economic development across the region and guard the country’s sovereignty in the Arctic, the commission has made modernizing the North a priority. The CRTC plans to hold public hearings on the plan in June in Inuvik and Whitehorse.
Posted 19 January 2013; 7:21:27 PM. Permalink
(Reuters, 17 January 2013) -- Coca-Cola will give 3 million euros ($4 million) to conservation group WWF over the next three years to help kickstart a campaign to protect the Arctic from the impacts of global warming, the world's biggest soft-drinks maker said. The Europe-wide campaign, which launched on Thursday in London, is aimed at raising awareness and funding to help protect the natural habitat of the polar bear, which is under threat from climate change. ... The campaign aims to raise awareness and funds in European countries for the plight of the polar bear. The money raised will go towards protecting an area in the Arctic where summer sea ice should last the longest, WWF and Coca-Cola said.
Posted 18 January 2013; 7:50:54 PM. Permalink
(Subsea World News, 18 January 2013) -- Arctic Fibre Inc. announced that it will partner with Anchorage-based Quintillion Networks, LLC to provide broadband telecommunications services to more than 26,500 Alaska residents living along the Alaskan North Slope and Bering Sea coastline, and to provide a geographically diverse alternate fibre route for traffic from the United States to Europe and Asia. This provision of virtually unlimited bandwidth will enable government to reduce the cost of providing services to citizens and enable consumers to access faster Internet speeds now available in most urban communities in Alaska. Arctic Fibre was established in 2009 to explore deploying a fibre optic telecommunications system through the Canadian Arctic. Arctic Fibre plans to construct a 15,167 km (9,424 mile) subsea fibre optic cable extending from Tokyo, Japan to London, England via the Bering Strait, Beaufort Sea and Canadian Arctic with a planned in-service date of November 2014. Arctic Fibre’s backbone network will reduce the cost of wholesale bandwidth by more than 85% in the Canadian communities of Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak, Igloolik, Hall Beach, Cape Dorset and Iqaluit. The company successfully concluded a capacity nomination process for Canadian carriers in late 2012 and is now moving to formal contracts with a group of Canadian carriers and government agencies. In December 2012, Arctic Fibre entered into an agreement with Quintillion Networks to serve the Alaska market as a wholesaler providing bandwidth to existing Alaska telecommunications carriers on a non-discriminatory basis. ... Quintillion’s Chief Operating Officer, Hans Roeterink, said Quintillion also intends to construct a 490-mile fibre parallel to Alaska’s Dalton Highway from Prudhoe Bay south to Fairbanks, and then to connect with existing terrestrial fibre networks to Anchorage and south through existing subsea fibres to mainland US. “This terrestrial portion of Quintillion’s network will enable high capacity connectivity for Alaskan customers as well as an alternative route for customers from the United States to other regions of the world”, added Roeterink.
Posted 18 January 2013; 7:47:07 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 18 January 2013) -- Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, the federal minister responsible for the Arctic Council, is visiting Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Norway Jan. 14 to Jan. 22 to meet with government representatives, indigenous groups, and members of the business sector in each country, a news release said. The trip is to help prepare for Canada’s two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council, which begins May 2013. The trip’s goal is to seek the views of Arctic Council states on “the themes Canada has set out for its chairmanship,” Aglukkaq said in the release. “Canada is committed to helping the North realize its true potential as a healthy, prosperous and secure region,” she said. ... The theme for Canada’s chairmanship will be: development for the people of the North, with sub-themes that include responsible Arctic resource development, safe Arctic shipping, and sustainable circumpolar communities. “The North is an integral part of our heritage, and holds tremendous promise for the future,” Aglukkaq said. She said there should be a greater focus on creating conditions in the North for economic growth, vibrant communities, and healthy ecosystems, she said. The trip will begin in Reykjavik, then goes on to Copenhagen and Helsinki before a final stop in Tromsø, Norway.
Posted 18 January 2013; 7:43:39 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 january 2013) -- World-renowned Inuk artist Kenojuak Ashevak died this morning at home in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, at age 85. Ashevak is considered a pioneer of Inuit art. Her drawings, prints and sculptures have been bought and displayed around the world. Her work has also been featured on several Canada Post stamps over the years, including her most famous print, Enchanted Owl. Ashevak was born in 1927 in a camp on Baffin Island and lived the traditional nomadic life on the land before settling in Cape Dorset. Okpik Pitseolak, an artist from Cape Dorset who knew Ashevak personally, said she brought Inuit art to the world but was "very humble about her work." Pitseolak said that when she appeared on the radio to talk about her art, she didn't want to come across "as someone who brags" about it. But she was "thankful for the fact that she was given this gift.” Ashevak died after a long battle with cancer. Director of Feheley Fine Arts Patricia Feheley, a Toronto dealer who handled Ashevak’s work, said she should be remembered as one of Canada’s great artists. ... Ashevak first became famous in her 20s, when the NFB film Kenojuak, made in 1962, showed her at work. She was creating drawings, prints and even sculptures in the 1960s. As her reputation grew, so did the reputation of Cape Dorset, the Inuit studio on Baffin Island that evolved into one of Canada’s most important artistic communities. ... Her legacy in Cape Dorset is “almost immeasurable,” Lalonde said. “She was so important to the print studio, the development of it – she influenced artists in the community to continue their artwork and become artists.”
Posted 14 January 2013; 3:02:57 PM. Permalink
(Ian Austin/New York Times, 12 January 2013) -- Kenojuak Ashevak, a once-nomadic artist from Canada's Arctic regions whose prints and drawings helped introduce Inuit art to much of the world, died on Tuesday at her home in Cape Dorset on West Baffin Island in the northern territory of Nunavut. She was 85. The cause was lung cancer, The Canadian Press news agency reported. Kenojuak as she was universally known, is probably best remembered for "The Enchanted Owl," a 1960 print showing an owl with wildly exaggerated feathers and a piercing stare. It became one of Canada's most famous works of art, appearing on a Canadian stamp in 1970 commemorating the centennial of the Northwest Territories.
Posted 14 January 2013; 2:32:33 PM. Permalink
(Jack Phillips/Epoch Times, 1 November 2012) -- Debris like plastic bags and other waste are continuing to pile up on the Arctic Ocean’s seabed, with the amount doubling in the past ten years, according to a new study. Marine biologist and deep sea expert Melanie Bergmann, in a study published [22 October] in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, examined 2,100 photographs of the Arctic seafloor at a depth of around 8,200 feet in the Fram Strait, which is located between Greenland and the Svalbard Islands. The trash, Bergmann said, is impacting local sea life, with almost 70 percent of plastic litter coming “into some kind of contact with deep-sea organisms.” “For example we found plastic bags entangled in sponges, sea anemones settling on pieces of plastic or rope, cardboard and a beer bottle colonized by sea lilies,” Bergmann says in a press release. The photos Bergmann used were from a camera stationed near the seabed, that takes a photograph every 30 seconds. The camera is primarily used by scientists for documenting changes in the biodiversity, mainly in regards to sea cucumbers, sea lilies, sponges, fish, and shrimp. Bergmann said she went through all the photographs from 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2011 to make a comparison of the trash on the seafloor. “The study was prompted by a gut feeling. When looking through our images I got the impression that plastic bags and other litter on the seafloor were seen more frequently in photos from 2011 than in those dating back to earlier years,” Bergmann said in a release. Trash and other pollutants that make it to the Arctic Ocean come from sources around the world via air and ocean currents, says the Pew Environment Group think tank. It argues that as Arctic ice continues to melt, more ships will be using the Northwest Passage and other routes that are subsequently opened up further, increasing the amount of garbage and sewage dumped into the ocean. Article highlights: Litter on the deep Arctic seafloor over time was quantified by image analysis. Litter density increased from 3635 to 7710 items per square km between 2002 and 2011. ? The majority of litter recorded was plastic. Sixty-seven percent of the litter items was entangled or colonised by benthic invertebrates.
Posted 11 January 2013; 11:41:32 AM. Permalink
(Invest in the Faroes, 8 January 2013) -- After a recent slow period, Faroese shipbuilding yards are seeing progress again. This year Faroese shipbuilding companies will build and repair ships for an estimated 11 million Euros – a figure that is expected to more than double by 2015. The order books of Faroese shipbuilding yards are filling up again, and companies are expecting significant growth in the next three years. One estimation conducted by the shipbuilding companies themselves shows that 2013 will see the industry building and repairing ships for approximately 11 million Euros, with growth continuing for the following three years. By 2015, the industry is estimated to have an annual turnover of 23 million Euros. 'We currently have between 15 and 20 ships on our hands, which is more than usual', said Mouritz Mohr, director of the shipbuilding company Mest, in an interview with the newspaper Dimmalætting. He added that most of the orders were small repairs, but that there were also some larger, more long-term jobs. Mest is the largest shipbuilding company in the Faroe Islands, and in addition to its main operations in Tórshavn, the company also has departments in Skála, Rúnavík and Vestmanna. Aside from Mest's facilities, there are also three smaller shipbuilding yards in Klaksvík, Rúnavík and Fuglafjørður, all run by other companies.
Posted 8 January 2013; 4:44:37 PM. Permalink
(BBC News, 7 January 2013) -- An influx of wolves preying on reindeer herds has triggered a state of emergency in the Sakha Republic, in north-eastern Russia. Squads of hunters will pursue the wolves in a three-month "battle" from 15 January, officials say. The most successful hunters will get bonuses. The vast, sparsely populated region is also known as Yakutia. Experts quoted by Russian media believe a shortage of mountain hares has caused the migration of hungry wolves. Wolf packs have moved into Sakha's central reindeer pastures, from their normal hunting grounds in the mountains and dense forests. Reports speak of increased attacks on livestock, but not on humans. The wolf-hunting season has been extended to the whole year, as the target is to get the wolf population in the region down to 500 - reckoned to be the optimal number. Currently there are estimated to be more than 3,500. There will be a "six-figure sum" for hunters who bring in the most wolf pelts - a big incentive, as 100,000 roubles (£2,043; $3,280) goes a long way in a region that is famously cold, remote and under-developed. The emergency measures were announced by Sakha President Yegor Borisov, who heard numerous complaints about wolf attacks when he visited several villages, a statement on his website said.
Posted 7 January 2013; 11:56:28 AM. Permalink
(Andreas Østhagen/The Arctic Institute, 19 December 2012) -- The prospect of offshore oil and gas activity in the waters around Greenland constitutes a highly contentious issue in the larger debate on Arctic petroleum development. Given Greenland’s special status as a part of the Danish Realm, with a high degree of self-governance and a majority Inuit population, oil and gas drilling there has engaged actors with a wide range of interests. Arctic oil and gas development is often generalised into a two-sided conflict between those who emphasise the protection of the environment and those who seek potential profits, with the interests of local communities variably used in favour of one or the other depending on the area of the region under question. Some of the dimensions that seem to determine much of the actual development are often lost in this dichotomy, to the dismay of those in favour of an informed debate. Taking into account that Greenland is just one of the many parts of the Arctic that is experiencing this development, with its own unique characteristics, this article sets out to shed light on the importance of internal political and commercial factors when discussing petroleum development around the island.
Posted 4 January 2013; 5:24:21 PM. Permalink
(Cathy Hunter/National Geographic News Watch, 14 December 2012) -- [The thirty-three founders of the National Geographic Society were an adventurous and accomplished group. They included scientists, explorers, a journalist and a superintendent of the National Zoo. In recognition of the National Geographic Society’s upcoming 125th anniversary this series takes a look at their stories.] A.W. Greely’s 1881 Arctic expedition tragically demonstrated the hardships and deadliness of attempts to explore the Far North. Despite his achievements before and after the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, his reputation would forever be tainted. ... In 1881, Greely was in charge of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition to the Arctic in order to establish one of a chain of international circumpolar weather stations. This expedition began as part of the first International Polar Year, reached the high latitudes of Canada north of Baffin Bay as well as crossing Ellesmere Island for the first time, charting parts of the coast of Greenland, and achieving a new northern record of 83 degrees, 24 minutes. Unfortunately, two relief ships failed to appear. Commander Winfield Scott Schley at the head of a third relief vessel finally made it–but by then it was 1884, and 18 of the 25 men had died.
Posted 4 January 2013; 5:20:20 PM. Permalink
(Ayesha Rascoe/Reuters via Scientific American, 3 January 2013) -- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Opponents of Royal Dutch Shell's ambitious Arctic oil program have called on the Obama administration to put offshore drilling plans in the region on hold after one of the company's oil rigs broke away from tow boats in high seas and ran aground off Alaska. The Natural Resources Defense Council and The Wilderness Society on Thursday said the accident involving Shell's Kulluk oil rig is new evidence that oil companies are not prepared to safely manage the extreme conditions of the Arctic. The 30-year-old Kulluk rig ran aground on New Year's Eve in what were described as "near hurricane" conditions while it was being towed south for the winter. "This string of mishaps by Shell makes it crystal clear that we are not ready to drill in the Arctic," Chuck Clusen, NRDC's director of Alaska projects, told reporters in a teleconference. The green groups said they plan to send a letter to the Department of the Interior demanding that it stop issuing permits in the Arctic and that it prevent drilling in the sensitive area until it is determined that the environment can be fully protected. Ocean conservation group Oceana also called on the department to stop oil drilling activities in the Arctic after the Kulluk's grounding. Shell has spent $4.5 billion since 2005 to develop the Arctic's vast oil reserves, but the company has faced intense opposition from environmentalists and native groups as well as regulatory and technical hurdles.
Posted 4 January 2013; 5:07:41 PM. Permalink
(Brett Smith/RedOrbit, 26 December 2012) -- Some conservationists are calling for increased restrictions on the buying and selling of rugs and other goods made from polar bears—citing the animal’s threatened status. Others disagree—saying climate change is the bears’ biggest threat and focusing on their trade de-emphasizes the true reason behind their endangerment. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which has long championed the polar bears’ cause, takes the position that climate change, not international trade, is their most significant threat. “If we were tempted to support (a ban) on the basis of trade being a major threat, it is not,” Colman O’Criodain, WWF’s wildlife trade policy analyst, told BBC News. “You could say that this is just a distraction factor and that it could have the effect of making people think something has been done to address the threat when the net effect will be almost negligible,” he added. Officials at the Humane Society International/UK disagree, citing a 375 percent increase in the number of polar bear skins offered at auction over the past five years as evidence that the animals are being hunted more than ever. ... Where some see a battle to protect polar bears by banning the trade of certain products, others see a move to de-emphasize the activities responsible for climate change. “The American government is using the threat of climate change to justify banning the international trade in polar bear parts while utterly failing to do anything to reduce their own activities,” Inuit spokesman James Eetoolook of the Nunavut Tunngavik told BBC News. In denouncing a potential ban, Eetoolook’s group cited their own research study, released earlier this year and conducted in the western side of Hudson Bay, which found the local polar bear population numbered around 1,000 animals and was possibly expanding. “This is not about climate change. This is about how polar bears were used to draw attention to climate change. It was dangerous and wrong for scientists to use incomplete data to make predictions,” Eetoolook said back in April when the study was released.
Posted 3 January 2013; 1:21:35 PM. Permalink
(Talking Retail, 20 December 2012) -- Coca-Cola is bringing back its much-loved iconic polar bears to our screens as part of a new integrated campaign. The 30-second TV advert and supporting activity aims to encourage brand love and celebrate togetherness this winter. The content-rich campaign builds the light-hearted and fun tale of a family of polar bears through an initial 30-second advert, national outdoor advertising, Sky 1 channel partnership and exclusive Arctic-themed downloads. The campaign also marks a return to the much-loved polar bears for the Coca-Cola brand, after appearing across various advertising campaigns for the past 90 years. To celebrate, a 30-second animated advert, entitled ‘Snow Bear’, will launch from New Year’s Day, bringing to life the iconic polar bears. The advert shows a family of polar bears in the Arctic, working together to make a snow bear. It includes the tag line ‘Open Happiness’ in order to drive awareness and capture the optimism, positivity and inspiration of the brand.
Posted 20 December 2012; 9:21:59 PM. Permalink
(Nick Hopkins/The Guardian, 19 December 2012) -- s of the Arctic convoys that supplied Russia with vital fuel, food and munitions during the second world war are finally to be awarded their own medal after years of campaigning for proper recognition of their bravery. David Cameron has announced that a review by the former diplomat Sir John Holmes, who was asked to look at rules on military decorations, had concluded the Arctic veterans should have their own medal to mark "the very difficult work they did". The review also said that veterans of Bomber Command had been "treated inconsistently with those who served in Fighter Command" and should also be entitled to a special RAF clasp. ... The Arctic convoys are credited with having played an important role in buoying Russia as Hitler mounted an invasion. ... More than 3,000 seamen were killed during 78 convoys that delivered 4m tons of cargo. Eight-five merchant ships and 16 Royal Navy vessels were destroyed. It is thought 66,500 men sailed on the convoys, but only 200 are alive today. One of them, Commander Eddie Grenfell, said it should not have taken 67 years to get the recognition of a star medal.
Posted 20 December 2012; 2:08:45 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/BarentsObserver, 4 December 2012) -- Shopping has flourished in Murmansk in course of the last ten years. The town has several large shopping centers, the largest for the time being is “Forum” with its 22.000 m² and four floors of shops, restaurants and cinemas. The new mall will be located in the center of Murmansk next to the O’key supermarket, which opened in 2008 and has become a huge success among Murmansk citizens. The mall will have three floors with chain shops like “Zara”, “H&M”, “Pull&Bear”, a cinema with nine screens (two of them IMAX), a food court and a large playground, B-port writes. The mall is being built by the investment company “Dorinda Invest”, a company specializing in building malls all over Russia. Update: People from Tromsø have called and reminded the BarentsObserver that the Jekta shopping mall in Tromsø is also 65,000 m². So the two towns will be competing in having "the world's largest shopping mall north of the Arctic Circle."
Posted 11 December 2012; 2:58:53 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/The Canadian Press via Yahoo! News, 3 December 2012) -- Canada will use its two years as leader of the circumpolar world to promote development and defend its policies, suggest federal politicians and documents. But Arctic experts and those involved with the Arctic Council worry that's the wrong approach at a time when the diplomatic body is dealing with crucial international issues from climate change to a treaty on oil spill prevention. ... "The issues have just escalated when you look at what's happening now with climate change," said Mary Simon, one of the negotiators of the agreement that created the council and a former Canadian ambassador for circumpolar affairs. "Even the predictions that were (made) two years ago are way out. The Arctic is being looked at very differently by nations — not just the eight that make up the Arctic Council, but other nations such as China and Japan." Think-tanks including the Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program and the Rideau Institute have urged an agenda that gets out in front of emerging issues. They've suggested that Canada could promote the protection of Arctic fisheries, the reduction of so-called black carbon — or soot — that accelerates the loss of sea ice and the adoption of mandatory safety standards for Arctic shipping. "All of the issues are pressing," said Michael Byers, a professor of international law and an Arctic expert at the University of British Columbia. "Nobody can afford for the Canadian chair to sit on our hands for two years." But a discussion paper circulated at meetings held across the North to gather input suggests that Canada's top priority will be development.
Posted 10 December 2012; 1:18:54 PM. Permalink
(Tim Lister/CNN, 7 December 2012) -- In mid-July this year, a roar echoed around one of the most remote inlets of northern Greenland -- and an island was born. No ordinary island, but a huge chunk of ice, roughly twice the size of Manhattan, that had broken from the Petermann Glacier. Scientists gave it the romantic name of PII-2012 and watched it begin to drift slowly into the Nares Strait, which separates Greenland from Canada. Then it began to break up, spawning several smaller ice islands. The birth of PII-2012 was no isolated event. The Petermann Glacier had lost a much larger chunk in 2010. It also broke into fragments, though that may not be the right word. One of them alone was estimated to weigh 3.5 billion tonnes, or metric tons (3.86 billion short tons), according to E. Julie Halliday, a researcher at Memorial University in Canada. ... Halliday noted in a paper presented at the Arctic Technology Conference in Houston last week that while "management of a 3.5 billion-tonne ice island away from offshore structures may theoretically be possible, putting it into practice would be logistically very challenging." ... Scientists are only now beginning to research these ice islands and the rate at which they melt and divide, especially as the Arctic waters warm and the restraining effect of sea ice disappears. ... The same warmer temperatures that are encouraging the collapse of ice shelves are melting icebergs and ice islands before they reach the north Atlantic, according to the International Ice Patrol, a program led by the U.S. Coast Guard to protect shipping from the sort of disaster that befell the Titanic. ... The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in its annual Arctic Report Card, published this week, said dramatic melting of the Greenland ice sheet had occurred in July, "covering about 97 percent of the ice sheet on a single day." ... All the evidence says that what in effect is the world's source of air conditioning is getting weaker, with consequences that will be felt far below the 48th parallel.
Posted 10 December 2012; 11:07:58 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 10 December 2012) -- A climatologist in the United States says the Arctic Circle should be a no-fly zone for major commercial flights. In a new report, Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil engineering at Stanford University in California, says black soot from commercial jets is attracting heat from the sun. Airlines first started flying over the Arctic in 1998, when Russia agreed to allow other countries to fly planes in its airspace. Now, more than 50,000 planes fly through the Arctic Circle every year. Jacobson says that could be a major cause of Arctic melting. “One of the effects of the aircraft is they emit a lot of soot into the upper atmosphere and the sunlight is absorbed by that soot, and the air heats up, so you get this kind of elevated, heated air layer where the aircraft fly,” Jacobson said. However, if large planes flew outside of the Arctic Circle, they would burn more fuel. However, Jacobson argues the warming effect would not be as great. The professor says he doesn't expect airlines to start rerouting flights around the Arctic Circle any time soon: he said airlines save more than $100 million a year in fuel costs by using the Arctic Circle as a shortcut.
Posted 10 December 2012; 11:02:14 AM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 23 November 2012) -- Although the season is not yet completely over – there are still two Finnish icebreakers in westbound transit from Alaska to Denmark – some remarks on the 2012 season can be made. There has been a tenfold increase in the number of vessels using NSR during the last two years. This season 46 vessels have sailed the route, compared to 34 in 2011 and only four in 2010. The total cargo transported on the NSR this year is 1 261 545 tons – a 53 percent increase from 2011, when 820 789 tons was shipped on the route. 25 of the vessels sailed NSR eastbound, starting from Murmansk, Arkhangelsk or Baydaratskaya Bay. 21 sailed in a westbound direction, a report from Rosatomflot reads. The report is given to BarentsObserver by the Centre for High North Logistics, an international knowledge hub on Arctic transport and logistics for businesses. Petroleum products constitute the largest cargo group. A total of 894 079 tons of diesel fuel, gas condensate, jet fuel, LNG and other petrol products has been transported on 26 vessels in 2012. 18 of the tankers sailed from west to east, eight in the opposite direction. ... The second largest cargo group was iron ore and coal, which was transported along the route six times. The two Finnish icebreakers Nordica and Fennica will probably be the last vessels to use NSR this season. The vessels are underway from Alaska to Denmark.
Posted 10 December 2012; 10:48:17 AM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 16 November 2012) -- Ministers from Canada and Norway, along with Arctic Parliamentarians, want the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East back at the Arctic Council. Canadian officials will continue to monitor what happens to the RAIPON, says Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, also the federal minister responsible for the Arctic Council. That comment follows a recent move by Russia’s ministry of Justice to suspend the operations of RAIPON, a move that came under fire at a meeting of the Arctic Council this past week in Haparanda, Sweden. “Our government supports the promotion of basic values—freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, Aglukkaq told Nunatsiaq News Nov. 16. Aglukkaq’s statement echoes that of the Nov. 14 statement from senior Arctic officials from the Arctic Council’s eight member nations — including Russia — and from the other five indigenous Arctic organizations which sit as permanent participants on the council. Their statement expressed concern about the suspension and its impact on RAIPON’s absence at the council, asking “the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation to facilitate, as appropriate, the fulfilment of RAIPON’s important role as a permanent participant in the Arctic Council.”
Posted 19 November 2012; 3:25:02 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/Globe and Mail, 15 November 2012) -- Canada’s term as head of the Arctic Council could get interesting before it even begins after Russia shut down a group that represents its northern aboriginals at international meetings. Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who sits on the council and is an Inuk herself, says Canada is concerned about the move and has joined other members in “expressing their concern.” “Canadian officials will continue to monitor the situation closely,” she said on Thursday. “Canada and other Arctic states have requested that Russia and [the Russian Association of Indigenous People of the North] co-operate closely to resolve the situation.” The Russian government surprised Arctic officials from the council’s eight member states this week when that country’s Ministry of Justice suspended the operations of the Russian indigenous group. The group represents more than 250,000 northerners and is one of six organizations that stand for aboriginals on the council. Canada begins a two-year term as the council’s head in the spring.
Posted 19 November 2012; 3:24:18 PM. Permalink
Posted 19 November 2012; 12:29:00 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 5 November 2012) -- The spring snow pack in the Arctic is disappearing at a much faster rate than anticipated even by climate change models, says a new study by Environment Canada researchers. That has implications for wildlife, vegetation and ground temperatures, say the scientists, who looked at four decades of snow data for the Canadian Arctic and beyond. Combined with recent news that the Arctic sea ice retreated to an all-time low this summer, it suggests climate change may be happening much faster than expected, said Dr. Chris Derksen, a research scientist for Environment Canada and one of the study's authors. "What we discovered was that there is a significant reduction in the amount of snow cover, particularly in May and June… and the rate of that decline is actually slightly faster than the loss of summer sea ice," Derksen said in an interview. They studied 40 years of data from across the Arctic from April to June, and found the decline in spring snow cover was actually slightly faster than the decline in sea ice that made headlines around the world.
Posted 5 November 2012; 2:35:43 PM. Permalink
(IOL SciTech, 5 October 2012) -- Moscow - A boy living in Russia's remote north has found the well-preserved remains of a 30,000-year-old adult mammoth, according to media reports on Thursday. The discovery was made near a weather station in the eastern Taimyr region, some 3,000 kilometres north-east of Moscow. News reports identified the boy as Yevgeny Salinder, son of a couple working at the Sopkarga polar weather station. Salinder reportedly discovered the animal during a walk. News reports said the remains were that of a male mammoth aged 15 or 16 years, and that its skin, meat, fat hump and organs were extremely well-preserved. According to the Pravda.ru news website, the last time mammoth remains of such quality were discovered in Russia was in 1901. Scientists used axes, picks and a steam-blaster to melt the permafrost in an extraction operation lasting a week, the report said. The mammoth probably died in the summer because it lacked an undercoat and had a large reserve of fat, the report quoted Aleksei Tikhonov, deputy director of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, as saying.
Posted 28 October 2012; 12:42:41 PM. Permalink
(The Canadian Press via Yahoo! News, 17 October 2012) -- OTTAWA - The Harper government's much-heralded Arctic patrol ships will cost more to maintain because National Defence won't be signing a long-term service contract for the mini-icebreakers until the boats are well into construction. The ships are already 2-3 years behind, according to project schedules, and could fall further behind if contract talks with Irving Shipyard hit a snag. An internal briefing to former Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino last fall noted the project was full of financial questions, starting with the actual price tag for building up to eight warships. The ships, first announced in 2007, were projected to cost $3.1 billion to build and $4.3 billion to maintain over their expected 25 year life cycle. But the presentation to Fantino shows a decision to "separately compete" the multi-billion dollar in-service contract "after the ships are in build" could have significant implications. Among other things, the delay in a support contract would "increase the cost of ownership," and design changes that might be incorporated into the system for ease of long-term maintenance won't get done.
Posted 28 October 2012; 12:39:24 PM. Permalink
(Regnum, 8 October 2012) -- As of 5 October, 3,546 educational institutions of a total of 5,440 are connected to district heating (65%). These figures were reported on 8 October by the press service of the Far Eastern envoy after a meeting chaired by the Minister for Development of the Far East - the presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Viktor Ishayev. At a meeting called to discuss preparations for winter, it was announced that 1,308 health facilities of 2,452 were connected to district heating (53%). Health care facilities in the Sakhalin (22) and Khabarovsk (278) regions have yet to be connected. 67% of Far East homes are connected to district heating. The envoy called on the authorities to fully provide heat to institutions of education and health care. He also instructed officials to undertake appropriate checks across the districts to identify connection problems and to get them fixed. [this is an edited version of the original]
Posted 14 October 2012; 5:18:29 PM. Permalink
(BakuToday, 11 October 2012) -- Government scientists from the region of Khabarovsk have developed new asphalt mixtures designed specifically for the Kamchatka climate. Acting Minister of Road Construction in the region, Vladimir Kayumov told BakuToday that the new process could double the lifespan of the province's roads. According to Kayumov, the new asphalt mixture that is being introduced is prepared with "ash soil," which is very plastic. Current formulations do not withstand annual freeze-thaw cycle very long. The new formulation will be more resistant to heaving, which makes the road more durable. Indeed, said the minister, the new formulation could well add three to six years to the current six-year road life span. Some modification of the region's asphalt plants will be needed, said the Deputy of the City Council Sergey Mecetin. [this item is an edited version of the original]
Posted 14 October 2012; 4:44:13 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 11 October 2012) -- The wreck of the Soviet cruiser Murmansk will be completely gone by November. 14,000 tons of scrap metal have been removed in the unique operation on the coast of Finnmark. AF Decom, the company that won the NOK 328 million (€44.5 million) tender to remove the wreck, reports that the removal is going very smoothly after managing to resolve earlier problems with leakages in the jetties that have been built around the wreck. “There are still some parts left in the ground, but everything will be removed by the middle of November, before the winter storms set in,” AF Decom Director Eirik Wraal says to NRK. The sea bottom around the wreck has been drained using jetties and the vessel has been cut into pieces and removed. The whole operation is being filmed for a future documentary and you can watch the removal operation on-line here. The 211-meters-long cruiser ended its days in Sørøya in the rocks outside Sørvær on the coast of Finnmark in December 1994. The cruiser was being tugged southwards for scrapping when it tore away during a storm and has since been to a lot of nuisance to the local population. A decision to remove the wreck was made in August 2008, after debris from the cruiser delivered for recycling revealed that there were traces of a radioactive source, PCB and brominated flame retardants in the vessel.
Posted 14 October 2012; 4:31:12 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 8 October 2012) -- Iceland’s film leaders have chosen The Deep to represent the country at the upcoming Academy Awards in Hollywood. The Baltasar Kormakur production, which depicts a fishing boat accident in the icy waters off the Iceland’s coastline, has been selected as the island nation’s contender for the category of best foreign-language film, the Icelandic Film and Television Academy announced on Thursday. The Deep, based on a true story from 1984, stars Olafur Darri Olafsson, whose character manages to make his way to shore as the only survivor after his vessel sinks. The film debuted at the Toronto Film Festival and received high praise from critics for its gripping underwater scenes. The filmmakers are hoping the picture will become the second-only Icelandic production ever nominated for an Oscar. The first came in 1992 via Children of Nature, directed by Fridrik Thor Fridriksson. Five films will be selected as nominees for this year’s award; they will be revealed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on 10 January, whilst the Oscar ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on 24 February.
Posted 14 October 2012; 4:29:23 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 11 October 2012) -- Greenland’s Oscar Committee has nominated Inuk as the Danish territory’s contender at this year’s Academy Awards in California. The film, which depicts the life of troubled 16-year-old Nuuk resident, will compete with films from around the world for the category of Best Foreign Language Film at the 85th edition of the Academy Awards, officials said on Monday. The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will select five final nominees for the category’s Oscar; their selections will be revealed on 10 January while the award ceremony will take place in Hollywood on 24 February. Inuk has already gathered substantial critical acclaim and has taken home more than 20 awards at various international film festivals. Filmmakers said the production was shot on location amid Greenland’s typical frigid conditions and casting agents commissioned local teenagers from an area children's home as well as area hunters as actors. As reported by Nuntasiaq Online, Inuk co-producer and co-writer Jean-Michel Huctin describes the film: “Created as an original road-movie on the sea ice, Inuk is both an authentic story of Greenland today and a universal story about the quest for identity, transmission and rebirth after the deepest of wounds.” Inuk’s producers are currently amid negotiations for the film’s general release in the US, Canada and Australia, and the full-length feature is already scheduled for an early 2013 release in Germany, South Korea, Switzerland and Austria.
Posted 14 October 2012; 4:06:27 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 13 October 2012) -- Chinese investor Huang Nubo’s company Zhongkun Grímsstaðir ehf. has reportedly offered to pay USD 5 million (ISK 615 million, EUR 3.86 million) for a 60-year lease of the piece of land Grímsstaðir á Fjöllum in Northeast Iceland, according to a draft agreement. This is USD 3 million less than originally estimated. According to an unreleased agreement between Zhongkun Grímsstaðir ehf. and Gáf, a private limited company owned by the Norðurþing municipality in North Iceland, the use of water and other natural resources such as geothermal heat are limited to the operation of tourist services with the exemption of Gáf, visir.is reports. Bergur Elías Ágústsson, chair of Gáf and director of the Norðurþing district council, said that they do not want to waive their rights to the use of the local resources. Bergur says that any decisions would need to be made in agreement with not only Gáf but with the zoning authority in the area, which in this case is the municipality of Norðurþing. The agreement states that the rental price will be paid for “in ISK with the best available rate.” Bergur Elías declined to comment on the amount offered.
Posted 14 October 2012; 4:00:23 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden, 8 October 2012) -- Arctic Sweden's northernmost city is moving east. The mining that has been the lifeblood of Kiruna town for over a hundred years has also undermined its buildings some are already sinking into the ground. Architects, from Sweden and abroad, have been competing to be the ones to create New Kiruna. To get the latest on the plans we talked to Katerina Nilsson, secretary of the jury deciding which plan to go with. [radio]
Posted 14 October 2012; 3:55:11 PM. Permalink
(Anja Kristine Salo/Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, 09 October 2012) -- 130 representatives from the government, indigenous peoples and business met in Tromsø on September 10 to discuss extractive industries in the Barents Region, an area where indigenous peoples have lived their traditional life for centuries. "It is huge uncertainty connected to what's happening up north. The indigenous peoples' opinions are not taken into account as often as we would have wanted. This is a great problem," says the President of the Norwegian Sami Parliament, Mr. Egil Olli. He is one of the participants at the seminar arranged by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and the Working group of Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Region. Scientists, representatives from the mining industry, local, regional and national government officials were also present at the seminar. Many sensitive, difficult and important question and challenges facing member states, indigenous peoples and business entities in the Barents region were addressed at the seminar. "We face a great risk of evolving conflicts between states, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders in this bonanza of oil, natural gas, minerals and plentiful waters in the Arctic. The indigenous peoples in the Arctic have to find the equilibrium in this boom and tackle these challenges, hopefully in co-operation with the national states, business entities, UN and other, regional and international bodies," says Lars Anders Baer, Chairman of the Working group of Indigenous peoples in the Barents Region. The State Secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that the indigenous peoples must be consulted.
Posted 12 October 2012; 4:38:30 PM. Permalink
(Asle Rønning/ScienceNordic, 6 October 2012) -- Norway’s Arctic Archipelago Svalbard gets some unseasonal rains now and then in winter. When it rains enough to soak through the snow and freeze against the topsoil, grass and other vegetation becomes hard for herbivores to reach. Two very different species are significantly affected by these rainfalls in the winter: the Svalbard reindeer and the sibling vole, which is Svalbard’s only rodent and only other mammalian land herbivore. The common factor impacting both stocks is winter rain, or the lack of it, according to a new study published in Biology Letters by scientists in Norway and Scotland. As the planet heats up, so far most in the polar regions, the Arctic is expected to get more rain in the season when powder snow would be expected. The study indicates that climate changes can have massive consequences on the entire Arctic ecosystem. This year with much more rain than average, calves of the Svalbard reindeer have a significantly smaller chance of survival and stocks of the sibling vole (Microtus kuis) are expected to plunge. On the Norwegian mainland in Finnmark County, well north of the Polar Circle, wet winter precipitation that freezes and locks vegetation under a sheet of ice is also known to aggravate reindeer browsing. “The Sami who maintain reindeer herds are familiar with this problem. What’s special about Svalbard is that this greatly impacts the voles. So it’s affecting large and small alike,” says one of the researchers behind the study, Audun Stien at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA). Stien says that last winter, which wasn’t included in the study, was yet another with lots of winter rain. “Permafrost is what’s special about Svalbard. When the rain soaks down through the snow it freezes against frozen soil,” he says. Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus) is a subspecies of reindeer found only on Svalbard.
Posted 12 October 2012; 4:13:30 PM. Permalink
(Emily Schwing/KUAC - Fairbanks via Eye on the Arctic, 11 October 2012) -- The Arctic Village of Kivalina may run out of fresh water this winter. Governor Sean Parnell declared a disaster in the village last month after heavy rainfall flooded the Wulik River and washed away some of the city's surface water piping. By the time the state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management had shipped a new high speed pump and pipe to the community, it was too late according to City Administrator, Janet Mitchell. Slush clogged the pipes and the crew gave up. It's not clear how much water made it into the tanks. Mitchell, who grew up in Kivalina, says residents have always tried to conserve water. But the majority of Kivalina's 436 residents don't have boats or snowmachines to access large quantities of fresh drinking water. So they use the local washeteria. It's unlikely to remain open through the winter.
Posted 12 October 2012; 3:19:17 PM. Permalink
(Voice of Russia, 12 October 2012) -- On Wednesday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended a keel-laying ceremony of the diesel-powered icebreaker LK-25 in St. Petersburg. Industry experts say the keel-laying of the new generation icebreaker marks a new stage in Russia’s exploration of the Arctic region. The state-of-the-art diesel-powered icebreaker LK-25 of ice class Icebreaker 8 will replace the old icebreakers, which were built in the 1980s. With the capacity of 25 MW the new icebreaker will be capable of sailing the most difficult conditions of the Kara Sea, in any ice situation. The new ship laid at the Baltic shipbuilding plant of the United Shipbuilding Corporation will be completed in 2017. Currently, Russia is also building other new icebreakers. The ships called Moscow and St. Petersburg were laid down 6 years ago but their capacity is much smaller than that of the LK-25 ship. In terms of capacity the LK-25 project is a milestone. And the largest ever project in the history of Russia’s shipbuilding industry is scheduled for 2013. The LK-60 nuclear icebreaker with the capacity of 60 megawatt will cost almost 40 billion rubles (more than one billion dollars) This vessel will be capable of sailing in the northernmost and easternmost parts of the Arctic region. This means that Russia will be able to solve strategic tasks in any part of the Arctic Ocean. We hear from Igor Ostretsov, the deputy director for science of the All-Russia Research Center of Nuclear Machine-Building. "The Soviet Union was an undisputable leader in building of icebreakers. We always had the advantage in the Arctic region. Now those icebreakers are getting old and we are renewing the fleet. It is very important to secure Russia’s presence in the Arctic areas, which always belonged to us, now when many other countries are eyeing the Arctic region. An icebreaking fleet is the most important tool there." Russia’s neighbors on the Arctic region are continuing to dispute Moscow’s claims on the Arctic shelf, which rich reserves attract even non-Arctic states such as Japan and Malaysia. Russia is continuing to explore the area to define the shelf borders and to apply a new request to the UN. Alongside the renewal of the icebreaking fleet the construction of new research ships is underway. On Wednesday, a new scientific research ship Academic Tryoshnikov was made operational. The industry experts say that in terms of its icebreaking capabilities it is superior to the Academic Fyodorov research ship. With the new research ship of this class Russia will be able to win back the leading position in scientific explorations of the Arctic region, Medvedev said Wednesday.
Posted 12 October 2012; 2:50:55 PM. Permalink
(CBC North, 5 October 2012) -- The United States is again lobbying for an international ban on the trade of polar bear parts, after a previous attempt failed in 2010. Officials have submitted a proposal to reclassify the animals under Appendix I — as a species threatened with extinction — of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species or CITES. That would shut down the commercial trade of hides, teeth and claws. It would also effectively shut down international polar bear sport hunts. This is the second time the U.S. has tried to get a ban on the international trade of polar bear parts. In 2010, the first American proposal was defeated at a meeting in Qatar. Nunavut Tunngavik, the Nunavut land claims organization, is outraged by the move. "The polar bear population is very healthy right now and traditional knowledge says that the numbers are increasing,” said NTI vice-president James Eeteelook. Canada is home to about two-thirds of the world’s 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Terry Audla said he was disappointed by the American proposal.
Posted 12 October 2012; 11:46:10 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 October 2012) -- One man in Norman Wells is transforming his town into the potato capital of the N.W.T., harvesting 30,000 pounds of the vegetable this year from his farm about 130 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle. For seven years Doug Whiteman has experimented with fertilizers, frost, top soil and timing on three acres bordering a grass airstrip. The short growing season and cold temperatures make growing vegetables a challenge. Government grants have covered three quarters of the cost of the seeds and harvesting equipment but he’s spent thousands out of his own pocket and may finally make a profit this year. “The main thing is to show it is possible,” he said. “You always think of moose, caribou, berries — this is food from the land also.” His grandchildren help pick potatoes in the field, his daughter helps him sort and does sales while he’s away, and his son helps him with deliveries. Whiteman sells to residents and businesses, for whom fresh produce is a welcome change, and even to boats travelling along the Mackenzie River. Jeff Gilroy runs the Yamouri Inn in Norman Wells and goes through more than 100 pounds of potatoes a week. Buying locally saves the cost of shipping by air or winter road, as there is no all-season road to the town with a population of about 800.
Posted 12 October 2012; 11:44:55 AM. Permalink
(Government of Canada press release via Heritage Daily, 21 September 2012) -- The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today gave an update on this summer’s Arctic archaeological survey led by Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Service to find the ill-fated 1845-1846 Franklin Expedition vessels: HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. “The search for the lost Franklin vessels continues, but I can unequivocally say that this year’s survey was by far our most successful one to date,” said Minister Kent. “I would like to congratulate all our amazing partners who were part of this Canadian-led research team. They reached new heights with this project, and I look forward to seeing what new possibilities open up in time for next year’s continued search.” This year, the search team ruled out more than 400 square kilometres in Canada’s vast Arctic waters, almost tripling the coverage of past field seasons and further narrowing the search for the elusive wrecks of the Franklin Expedition. With almost four weeks spent in the Arctic, the team employed a multitude of scientific data that will also greatly benefit Canada’s understanding and knowledge of the Arctic. Working from both the research vessel, Martin Bergmann, supplied by the Arctic Research Foundation, and Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the survey time was significantly extended compared to previous years. In addition to Parks Canada’s underwater archaeologists searching for the Franklin vessels, the broader project team included the Arctic Charting and Mapping Pilot Project, led by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Canadian Hydrographic Service. This project allowed for the collection of data for the production of official navigational charts in the Arctic, while supporting, marine archaeology and ecosystem management objectives.
Posted 22 September 2012; 11:01:10 AM. Permalink
(Planetsave, 21 September 2012) -- The complete collapse of Arctic sea ice during the summer months may happen within four years, according to one of the world’s leading sea ice researchers. In an email to the Guardian, Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University says: "Climate change is no longer something we can aim to do something about in a few decades' time, and that we must not only urgently reduce CO2 emissions but must urgently examine other ways of slowing global warming, such as the various geoengineering ideas that have been put forward." Some of those geo-engineering ideas could have unintended effects worse than climate change itself, though — they remain a heavily-debated solution. The most prominent current ideas include: reflecting the sun’s light back into space with aerosols or mirrors; turning clouds a whiter color; and seeding the ocean with minerals in order to encourage massive plankton blooms that, theoretically, could sequester more CO2. Professor Wadhams has spent “many years collecting ice thickness data from submarines passing below the arctic ocean. He predicted the imminent break-up of sea ice in summer months in 2007, when the previous lowest extent of 4.17 million square kilometres was set. This year, it has unexpectedly plunged a further 500,000 sq km to less than 3.5m sq km.” “I have been predicting [the collapse of sea ice in summer months] for many years. The main cause is simply global warming: as the climate has warmed there has been less ice growth during the winter and more ice melt during the summer,” Dr Wadhams said. “At first this didn’t [get] noticed; the summer ice limits slowly shrank back, at a rate which suggested that the ice would last another 50 years or so. But in the end the summer melt overtook the winter growth such that the entire ice sheet melts or breaks up during the summer months. “This collapse, I predicted would occur in 2015-16 at which time the summer Arctic (August to September) would become ice-free. The final collapse towards that state is now happening and will probably be complete by those dates”.
Posted 22 September 2012; 10:56:24 AM. Permalink
(Peter Fednysky/Voice of America, 21 September 2012) -- NEW YORK - The extent of Arctic sea ice this week shrunk to a new low in the era of satellite record-keeping that began in 1979. The increased expanse of water near the top of the world could have implications for global shipping, wildlife and even international diplomacy. Polar bears hunt seals from sea ice, but could drown if forced to swim long distances in open water. Satellite photos released by America’s space agency, NASA, illustrate the daunting threat to such bears. An image shows the amount of Arctic Sea ice in 1979. Another shows the record minimum set this year on September 16. The shrinkage is equivalent to an area greater than Texas, an impossible distance for even the mightiest polar bear to swim. Scientists say fossil fuels are increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere. This not only warms the oceans, but threatens biodiversity in cold and warm waters alike. “As we increase the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a high proportion, about 40 percent of that, goes back into the ocean, and so it’s increasing the acid content of the ocean and that’s threatening coral reefs,” said Ben Orlove, a Columbia University climate research scientist.
Posted 22 September 2012; 10:49:55 AM. Permalink
(Reuters, 21 September 2012) -- Weather data collected by NASA suggests that this summer's record Arctic ice melt may have been partially due to a powerful cyclone that scientists say ''wreaked havoc'' on ice cover during the month of August. Rob Muir reports.
Posted 22 September 2012; 10:48:31 AM. Permalink
(Marine Science Today, 22 September 2012) -- A committee of Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK is calling for a complete stop of drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic until certain safety issues have been taken care of. The Environmental Audit Committee has previously voiced their concerns that a spill could cause catastrophic environmental damage. The MPs say that current oil spill cleanup methods are not adequate. They are calling for a pan-Arctic spill response standard, full liability for firms and an environmental sanctuary in the Arctic. Both BP and Shell are involved in Arctic drilling projects. BP’s plans are temporarily on hold and they wouldn’t provide the MPs with evidence that they have an adequate plan for spill response. Shell has stopped drilling for the winter, but they claim that their spill response is adequate. “There appears to be a lack of strategic thinking and policy coherence within Government on this issue, illustrated by its failure to demonstrate how future oil and gas extraction from the Arctic can be reconciled to commitments to limit temperature rises to 2°C,” the MPs said. ”The Government should seek to resolve this matter.” You can read more from the BBC here: MPs call to halt Arctic drilling amid safety concerns.
Posted 22 September 2012; 10:42:47 AM. Permalink
(Coastal Care, 21 September 2012) -- ... the village of Shishmaref in North Western Alaska, inhabited for 400 years, is currently facing evacuation due to rising temperatures, which are causing a reduction in sea ice, thawing of permafrost along the coast. The reduced sea ice allows higher storm surges to reach shore and thawing permafrost makes the shoreline more vulnerable to erosion. The town’s homes, water system and infrastructure are being undermined. A federal appeals court has ruled against the northwest Alaska village of Kivalina, which sued energy companies over claims that greenhouse emissions contributed to global warming that is threatening the community’s existence. The eroding village sought monetary damages to help with the estimated $400 million to relocate…
Posted 22 September 2012; 10:40:02 AM. Permalink
(The Voice of Russia, 2 September 2012) -- Many centuries of studies and exploration of the Arctic territories are filled with multitudes of vivid, large-scale and, at times, dramatic events. The Arctic map is a hymn to man’s spirit. It shows the names of islands, gulfs and mountains that immortalize their discoverers. It is in large part due to Russian explorers that the lands of the North became an adequately studied and accessible part of the globe. Of course, explorers from other countries also studied the Arctic but it rarely became a tradition in a full l sense of this word. Many generations of Russian pioneers and researchers contributed colossal efforts, expertise funds and often their lives to the exploration of the Arctic region. In their quest for the North Pole they discovered new lands, seas, islands and archipelagos. Thanks to Russian explorers mankind learned about the existence of Spitsbergen, Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya and the New Siberian Islands, the Chukchi Peninsula, the Kamchatka Peninsula and Alaska. The Russians were the first to prove that Asia and America were separated by a strait. Russian polar navigators purposefully explored Arctic sea and river routes, studied the Arctic Ocean and played a prominent part in charting the Northern Sea Route. Since 1914 Russian airmen have been conquering the airspace above the Arctic.
Posted 21 September 2012; 2:19:56 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 6 September 2012) -- Following the new record low Arctic sea ice extent recorded Aug. 26, ice coverage has continued to drop and has now shrunk to less than four million square kilometres — smaller than the previous low extent of 2007. Compared to September conditions in the 1980s and 1990s, the Arctic sea ice extent has dropped by 45 per cent, the Colorado-based National Snow and Ice Data Center said Sept. 5. And that skimpy sea ice cover is likely to get lower yet, because at least one more week remains in the melt season.
Posted 6 September 2012; 3:41:45 PM. Permalink
(Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping Joint Hydrographic Center, 6 September 2012) -- A blog detailing the daily progress of the Healy as researchers study the Arctic Ocean and map the sea floor. Blog post from September 5, 2012: Today we returned to the seafloor knoll that was partially sounded on August 31 to fully map the feature and determine if it rises above the 2500 m depth contour. (The 2500-m contour is a key element in establishing limits of the extended continental shelf.) Our multibeam mapping determined that the highest point of the knoll is about 2690 m deep and thus does not give us a 2500-m contour to work with. Nonetheless, we now have a detailed survey of the knoll to replace the vague shape on the existing maps. After we acquire the multibeam echo sounder data, our data processing watch team “processes” the data. In data processing, we confirm that the ship’s position and attitude data are valid and we clean erroneous depth values from the sounding data. These erroneous depth values can arise from interference from other echo sounders, bubbles or ice under the ship, mechanical noise from the ship’s machinery, or often just from weak echoes returning from the seafloor. The cleaned depth values are combined into a digital depth data grid for display and analysis.
Posted 6 September 2012; 3:31:17 PM. Permalink
(Collin West/Bloomberg Businessweek, 12 July 2010) -- This blog will capture my personal experience as our team of four attempts “one of the last great firsts.” If successful, our crossing will be the first rowing expedition to travel from continent to continent for a total of 1,300 miles. What will we learn about ourselves and the Arctic along the way? Visit this blog regularly to find out as we explore this question in real time. But today, the Arctic Row expedition finally starts. I am sitting on the first of four flights as we make our way to Inuvik, a tiny town that sits 2 degrees north of the Arctic Circle. Our first stop is Edmonton, Canada. My excitement builds as the towns get progressively smaller. While in Inuvik, we will make final preparations on our boat, including packing our supplies and film gear for our documentary Into Thin Ice. Then we will drop our boat in the MacKenzie River about 70 miles north of the Arctic Ocean and commence our record-breaking attempt.
Posted 17 July 2012; 5:02:27 PM. Permalink
(Dennis L. Bryant/Marinelink.com, 16 July 2012) -- While it seems that half the world is monitoring the oil and gas exploration activities of Royal Dutch Shell (Shell Oil) on the United States outer continental shelf (OCS) in waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off the north coast of Alaska, another historic event is occurring in those same waters: Arctic Shield 2012. The US Coast Guard is assembling its largest ever effort in the Arctic during the period July through October 2012. The Coast Guard has been gradually expanding its presence in the Arctic over the past four years. ... This summer, though, the Coast Guard is making a full-court press. The National Security Cutter Bertholf, the Medium Endurance Cutter Alex Haley, and the buoy tenders Hickory and Sycamore will be operating in waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, testing their ability to perform national security, maritime safety, law enforcement, marine pollution prevention, and other Coast Guard missions in Arctic waters. They will be joined by four helicopters, a mobile communications facility, and various shore-based assets. In a first-ever Arctic waters test, the Coast Guard, the US Northern Command, the Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving, and other agencies will deploy Spilled Oil Recovery System (SORS) equipment from one of the buoy tenders.
Posted 17 July 2012; 2:26:18 PM. Permalink
(Canadian Polar Commission, 6 July 2012) -- The Canadian Polar Commission (CPC) is seeking a full-time Northern Coordinator (on an assignment basis) to anchor the Commission's presence north of 60o and help advance its mandate by establishing and maintaining relationships with northern communities, organizations and individuals. The intent is to have a successful candidate in place in fall 2012.
Posted 6 July 2012; 1:43:07 PM. Permalink
(4 July 2012) -- It is looking like the college is getting ready to remove its support for Manila. That means I have to find a new way to collect and share this information. If anyone reading this has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. username agraham at yukoncollege.yk.ca
Posted 4 July 2012; 10:51:34 AM. Permalink
(Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs Sweden, speech at Carleton University 17 May 2012) -- I am deeply honored to speak here today at the Carleton University. Our two countries - Canada and Sweden - are connected in many ways. We share a similar culture and lifestyle. Our societies are based on the same set of fundamental values. And in both our countries we have a tradition of strong attachment to nature, despite an equally strong tradition of rough and forbidding weather conditions. More than anything, however, I believe we are linked together by geography: by the fact that both Canada and Sweden are countries that stretch into the vast, remote and cold part of the world called the Arctic. This simple fact has had a major impact on our history. It will - perhaps to an even greater extent - shape our future. And for many of us it will always be part of what it means to be Swedish and - I presume - Canadian. Take our national anthems as an example. While you are singing of "The True North strong and free", we sing "Thou ancient, thou free, thou mountainous North". Simply put, we are both Northerners.
Posted 18 May 2012; 2:30:53 PM. Permalink
(University of Pennsylvania press release, 18 May 2012) -- For many of these populations, this is the first time their genetics have been analyzed on a population scale. One study, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, focuses on the Haida and Tlingit communities of southeastern Alaska. The other study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, considers the genetic histories of three groups that live in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Establishing shared markers in the DNA of people living in the circumarctic region, the team of scientists uncovered evidence of interactions among the tribes during the last several thousand years. The researchers used these clues to determine how humans migrated to and settled in North America as long as 20,000 years ago, after crossing the land bridge from today's Russia, an area known as Beringia. Penn houses the Genographic Project's North American research center. "These studies inform our understanding of the initial peopling process in the Americas, what happened after people moved through and who remained behind in Beringia," said author Theodore Schurr, an associate professor in Penn's Department of Anthropology and the Genographic Project principal investigator for North America.
Posted 18 May 2012; 12:01:50 PM. Permalink
(YLE News via Eye on the Arctic, 16 May 2012) -- The midnight sun is bringing nightless night to the municipality of Utsjoki in Finland's Far North starting Wednesday. The sun will not set again in Utsjoki until mid-July. White nights only occur above the Arctic Circle and are caused by the tilt of the Earth's axis toward the sun.
Posted 18 May 2012; 11:47:59 AM. Permalink
(Sweden Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 14 May 2012) -- Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt will travel to Canada this week for political discussions primarily focusing on issues on the Arctic agenda. Mr Bildt will also visit the Arctic areas in Canada. Sweden currently holds the chair of the Arctic Council, which is a forum for cooperation between the five Nordic countries, Canada, Russia and the USA. The Arctic areas face many challenges and it is important to find a balance between environmental considerations and economic development for the Arctic to be able to develop. "Arctic region issues are a high priority for the Swedish Government and it is therefore important to discuss these issues with a central Arctic actor like Canada," says Mr Bildt. Sweden has held the chair of the Arctic Council since May 2011 and will pass on the Chairmanship to Canada at the foreign ministers' meeting in Kiruna in May 2013. On 16-17 May, Mr Bildt will be in Ottawa for talks with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, Minister of National Defence Peter Mackay and Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency Leona Aglukkaq. On 17 May Mr Bildt will deliver a key policy speech at Carleton University under the heading 'Arctic Challenges and the Future Perspectives of Arctic Cooperation'. On 18-19 May Mr Bildt will visit Iqaluit in northern Canada, where he will meet Premier of Nunavut Eva Aariak and others.
Posted 16 May 2012; 4:08:24 PM. Permalink
(David McKie/CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 8 May 2012) -- The federal government identified 142 contaminated sites as of last September where pollutants need to be contained or eliminated because of a long-term or immediate threat to human health or the environment. That's according to a CBC News analysis of the most recently available data compiled by the Treasury Board, one of the departments responsible for maintaining an inventory of sites. Much of the data is available online, but CBC News obtained more complete data under an access-to-information request. The 142 sites are only those that have reached step eight in a long process that federal departments and agencies must follow to assess and develop plans to clean up or contain damage posed by contaminants. Step eight is what's called "remediation/risk management strategy," which includes identifying the contaminants and whether they are present in soil or groundwater, and developing a plan to remove or treat the contaminants, as well as a detailed contingency plan in case the contaminants are released into the environment.
Posted 9 May 2012; 3:18:13 PM. Permalink
(Russia and India Report, 6 April 2012, running time 26:10) -- The tiny village of Shoina in Russia’s Arctic faces a daily battle against advancing sands, which appeared over 50 years ago and have been covering the land ever since.
Posted 9 May 2012; 2:08:19 PM. Permalink