(CBC/Eye on the Arctic, 31 January 2013) -- Doctors from across Canada and Greenland are in Iqaluit this week to discuss tuberculosis in Nunavut. The territory continues to have the highest infection rates in Canada, with 100 cases in 2010, 74 in 2011 and 79 last year. Nunavut's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Maureen Baikie, said there are still a lot of TB cases in Nunavut. She said gathering experts together now will help improve the TB programs delivered in the territory. "For example, we've looked at the use of BCG vaccine, we're getting some advice on some of the new tests that are out there for TB. So all of it will be used as we examine our TB program," said Baikie. One of those programs is Taima TB, which started in Iqaluit in 2011 with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated as a partner.
Posted 1 February 2013; 8:16:39 AM. Permalink
(CBC Radio: The Best of the Current, 30 January 2012) -- So why is it that China is commissioning a second polar ice-breaker and India has plans to build one too? All this as both countries seek to join the ranks asking for observer status on The Arctic Council, a body of eight Northern nations including our own and six Arctic Indigenous groups including groups here. As Canada prepares to assume the Chair of the Arctic Council, we're asking who gets to makes plans for the far North.
(Richard Black/BBC News, 30 January 2012) -- The Little Ice Age was caused by the cooling effect of massive volcanic eruptions, and sustained by changes in Arctic ice cover, scientists conclude. An international research team studied ancient plants from Iceland and Canada, and sediments carried by glaciers. They say a series of eruptions just before 1300 lowered Arctic temperatures enough for ice sheets to expand. Writing in Geophysical Research Letters, they say this would have kept the Earth cool for centuries. The exact definition of the Little Ice Age is disputed. While many studies suggest temperatures fell globally in the 1500s, others suggest the Arctic and sub-Arctic began cooling several centuries previously. The global dip in temperatures was less than 1C, but parts of Europe cooled more, particularly in winter, with the River Thames in London iced thickly enough to be traversable on foot. What caused it has been uncertain. The new study, led by Gifford Miller at the University of Colorado at Boulder, US, links back to a series of four explosive volcanic eruptions between about 1250 and 1300 in the tropics, which would have blasted huge clouds of sulphate particles into the upper atmosphere.
Posted 1 February 2012; 11:52:00 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 30 January 2012) -- Archeologists from the Danish National Museum have now proven that Eric the Red, who founded the Icelandic settlement in Greenland at the end of the tenth century AD, and his contemporaries were able to brew ale. There have long been speculations whether the climate in the southernmost part of Greenland was warm enough in the Viking era to growing cereals for brewing ale, the staple beverage of Vikings, make porridge and bake bread, visir.is reports. Now archeologists have found remains of burnt barley in a dunghill that dates back to the time of Eric the Red’s settlement in Greenland and is the first indication of cereal growing in the country’s southernmost part a millennium ago. The Danish newspaper Jyllandsposten states that the archeologists are very proud of their discovery and now intend to move 300 kilos of the dunghill to Denmark for further research. Click here to read an earlier report about barley being grown in Greenland.
Posted 30 January 2012; 1:26:53 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 25 January 2012) -- Organizers for the 2012 Arctic Winter Games’ cultural events took the stage Tuesday. Eight presenters got a chance to lay out their plans for the week of shows in Whitehorse which will take place alongside the sports. The theme for this year is "Winter Living". "We're trying to create that atmosphere where people get together and they go in the backyard and they light a fire and there's some music and they go inside to warm up. It's about celebrating who we are as a northern people. I just thought that weather-wise, you know, it's sort of how we winter. That's kind of the theme that inspired some of the work," said Laurel Parry, vice-president for culture and ceremonies for the games. Some of the features will include an exhibition of circumpolar beading. There will also be local dancers, musicians and snow carving. The new Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre and the MacBride museum will feature displays. The budget for the cultural games is $300,000. Patrick Roberge, who directed the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2007 Canada Winter Games is coming back to produce this year’s event on a $40,000 contract. The Arctic Winter Games start March 4.
Posted 30 January 2012; 2:37:44 AM. Permalink
(Dan Vergano/USA Today, 28 January 2012) -- A strong solar storm grazed Earth's magnetic field last week, delivering beautiful auroral lights to the polar skies. The S3-class storm, on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scale that rises from S1 to S5, represents the opening salvo in the coming peak of outbursts over the next year or so. "The solar cycle is increasing, and so we are going to get more storms," says University of Michigan space weather expert Tamas Gombosi. "Once an eruption happens on the sun, even the biggest ones, we'll have at least a day's warning." The current cycle was slow in getting cranked up, Gombosi adds, but appears headed for its normal peak in 2013, part of an 11-year cycle that has been documented by astronomers for centuries. The cycle drives conditions on the sun's surface, where superheated gas bubbles upward at temperatures near 9,940 degrees Fahrenheit. Where the sun's magnetic field becomes tangled, cooler sunspots result, some a mere 5,000 degrees. Those sunspots are draped by strong magnetic fields that spit out solar storms, outbursts of charged particles and radiation shot into space. "These eruptions kind of come off the sun in a cone shape, and sometimes head our way," says Solar Dynamics Observatory scientist Phillip Chamberlin of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Chamberlin and colleagues quickly spotted last week's outburst, allowing NOAA "space weather" scientists to predict both its peak time and that it would be a glancing blow, passing above Earth's north pole. "They got it right to within seven minutes," Chamberlin says. "That is simply amazing." The storm peaked Jan. 24 and disrupted high-frequency radio signals for two days, Chamberlin says.
Posted 30 January 2012; 12:53:21 AM. Permalink
(CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 27 January 2012) -- The caribou herd on Southampton Island, which was once wiped out in the 1950s, may face extinction once again. Mitch Campbell, a wildlife biologist with the Government of Nunavut, a territory in Canada's eastern Arctic, says disease and overhunting are threatening the herd on the island at the mouth of Hudson Bay. He said a reproductive disease called brucellosis infected the island herd in 2000. As a result, pregnancy rates have dropped to about 30 per cent from 80 per cent, he said. Now social media like Facebook and cheap shipping rates from the airlines for country food are helping people in Nunavut communities like Iqaluit, where caribou is scarce, order meat from hunters in the Southhampton Island Inuit community of Coral Harbour, putting more stress on the herd. The herd on Southampton Island was hunted to extinction in the 1950s, and was re-established when 50 animals were transplanted there in 1968. "They've gone down from a high of 30,000 in 1997 to what we surveyed this last June which was about 7,500 animals," said Campbell. Campbell said more than 1,500 caribou had been exported this winter, which is higher than the birth rate, and that is only halfway through the season. "We believe that if this isn't stopped, this is an unsustainable harvest and probably will cause the population to be devastated within the next three years or so," he said. "One of the only ways that we will be able to control the harvest is by applying a total allowable harvest." Campbell said efforts to meet with the Coral Harbour Hunters and Trappers Organization have been unsuccessful. No one from the organization was available to speak with CBC.
Posted 30 January 2012; 12:41:02 AM. Permalink
(Margaret Munro/Postmedia News, 29 January 2012) -- The icebreaker at the heart of Canada's premier Arctic science program has been pulled from service, leaving researchers scrambling to find other ships to take them to the North. The bright red Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen has become a familiar sight cruising the Arctic. It is a floating home and laboratory for researchers and students studying everything from Inuit health to the transformation underway in the Arctic environment. The ship is also to be featured on Canada's new $50 bill. But it is now docked in Trois-Rivieres, Que., with four of its six engines "non-operational,'' and in need of repairs expected to cost several million dollars and take at least a year. "Numerous repair scenarios are now being considered, but in all cases, the ship will be non-operational until late 2012 or early 2013,'' Martin Fortier, executive director of ArcticNet, said in a memo recently sent to scientists who planned to use the ship this year. "This leaves us with no other option than to cancel the 2012 Amundsen expedition altogether, obviously a major blow to the 2012 ArcticNet ocean program and associated research projects,'' it says. ArcticNet, based at Laval University, co-ordinates and funds Arctic work undertaken by researchers across Canada. Keith Levesque, ArcticNet's co-ordinator for research on the Amundsen, says the engine problems "came out of the blue.'' A routine coast guard inspection in December uncovered cracks in four of the ship's six engine blocks, he said in an interview. Transport Canada inspectors took a look and in January, "deemed that the ship could not sail this summer, or even this winter, and that the engines need to be replaced as soon as possible.'' Nathalie Letendre, a media officer with the Coast Guard, says the Amundsen will not even been used to clear ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which it usually does in the winter months. It is not know how expensive or extensive the repairs job will be, she said, but the ship is expected to be out of action for the year. The cancellation of the 2012 Amundsen expedition comes just months after ArcticNet researchers won a $67.3-million infusion from the federal government to step up northern research. "We are still in shock,'' says John Hughes Clarke, at the University of New Brunswick, who leads an ArcticNet project mapping the seabed.
Posted 29 January 2012; 11:12:36 PM. Permalink
(Anita Li/Toronto Star, 25 January 2012) -- An Arctic duck is at risk because polar bears have developed a newfound appetite for their eggs, scientists say. The eider populations in Nunavut and Nunavik, Que., are declining partly because the bears have been eating more of their eggs, which are laid on the southern coasts of Baffin Island and Southampton Island. “The bears were essentially eating every single egg on the island(s),” said Samuel Iverson, a field researcher with Environment Canada. “We are seeing just major nest depredation.” Over the past three decades, climate change has caused sea ice to disappear, making it more difficult for polar bears to hunt for seals, their primary prey. To compensate, the bears have been raiding eider nests for food. “These bears might be energy-deficient and more willing to consume resources, which before, weren’t very important to them, but now are piquing the bears’ interest in a way that they haven’t in the past,” he said. “The number of colonies where we saw this happening was much higher than anybody has ever recorded before.” But eating a diet of eggs isn’t enough to sustain the polar bear population in the long-term, Iverson added.
Posted 26 January 2012; 6:30:40 PM. Permalink
(Vladivostok Air press release, 4 January 2012) -- Vladivostok Air is proud to announce the resumption of seasonal service between Anchorage, Alaska, and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia, this coming summer. This weekly service will run from July 12 to September 13, 2012, with departures on Thursdays. Flights arrive in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the morning, allowing for fishermen to get to their rivers the day of arrival and for transit travelers to make connections to other Russian cities. See full details on our Kamchatka page. Commencing late February, 2012, tickets for these flights will go on sale via all major ticketing reservations systems, and may be booked through any quality travel agent. Vladivostok Air is also working with travel partner Kamchatintour in Russia and US travel agents to create exciting travel packages to Kamchatka. Business travel services will also be offered. FAM trips for North American trip operators are also being coordinated. Details will be available soon.
Posted 26 January 2012; 6:27:09 PM. Permalink
(Matthew Smith/KNOM - Nome, 23 January 2012 ) -- The tanker Renda and the Coast Guard cutter Healy are 115 miles south-southwest of Nome after beginning their return journey through the ice two days ago. Ice conditions have been easier when compared to their initial trip north, but the ships are not yet halfway: they still have more than 300 miles of ice to go. Kathleen Cole, the Sea Ice Program Leader with the National Weather Service, says the ice has continued to expand in the days since the ships first traveled through it: the ice grew by 60 miles during their weeklong anchor in Nome, and could grow by another 60 to 90 miles over the next ten days. Guiding the Renda through the ice is an experienced Russian captain who says this kind of fuel delivery mission is no big deal in his home country.
Posted 26 January 2012; 6:24:36 PM. Permalink
(Jonathan Watts/The Guardian, 25 January 2012) -- Norway could shut China out of the Arctic Council if Beijing does not stop a campaign of diplomatic snubs imposed after the Nobel peace prize was awarded to Liu Xiaobo, a Norwegian newspaper has reported. If confirmed, Oslo's move would mark a bold confrontation with the world's fastest rising economic power and highlight the growing importance of the Arctic, which is opening up for navigation and mineral exploitation as it melts due to global warming. China's relations with Norway have been frosty since October 2010, when the Oslo-based Nobel committee announced that Liu, an imprisoned Chinese democracy activist, would be the next peace laureate. Although the Norwegian government has stressed that the Nobel committee is independent, Beijing has punished its host nation by cutting political and human rights dialogues. Until now, Norway has tried to use quiet diplomacy to ease the situation but, with little sign of progress, the Aftenposten, Norway's best selling newspaper, claims the government is preparing to up the stakes. Citing an unnamed high-level diplomatic source, the paper said Norway would find it difficult to agree to China's application to be a permanent observer on the Arctic Council while the current situation persisted.
Posted 26 January 2012; 6:16:12 PM. Permalink
(TASS via Voice of Russia, 20 January 2012) -- A tourist zone will be created on the premises of the Russian Arctic National Park in the north of the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago and on the islands of Franz Josef Land. According to local officials, the construction of helicopter pads and harbors to receive cruise vessels will begin this summer. Former polar stations and deserted military bases will be transformed into tourist centers and virgin territories will be open only for research. The Russian Arctic, the northernmost nature reserve in Eurasia, is home to the biggest colonies of birds and rookeries in the Northern Hemisphere. It is populated by polar bears, Greenland whales, white seagulls and other Red Book species.
Posted 24 January 2012; 1:50:24 PM. Permalink
(Barents Nova, 23 January 2012) -- Supply tenders are announced for the Russian Optical Trans Arctic Submarine Cable System (ROTACS) telecommunication project intended to connect Europe and Asia via Murmansk. ROTACS will connect Europe and Asia via the shortest possible geographical route across the Arctic, opening a new chapter in the history of global submarine telecommunications, says Polarnet, the project operator. At the first stage of the project implementation, 6 fibre pairs of an undersea 17,000 km-long cable system will link England, Japan, China and Russia through cable stations in the cities of Bude (England), Tokyo (Japan), and Russia's Murmansk, Vladivostok, and Anadyr. The estimated cost of this phase will be $860 million. At the second stage, for the price of $500 million there will be installed cable branches to connect the undersea-based trunk line with Russian telecom providers based on the shore. Stage 3 will need other $500 million to install an onshore line closing the circle of cables through the central part of Russia. The last stage will be backed up by Rosneft. Overall costs come up to $2 billion. ROTACS is the first system to be built along the trans-Arctic geographic route. In mid-October 2011, the Russian Governmental Commission for Federal Communications and Information Technology granted its approval of the project. The ROTACS project will start in Q2 this year and is optimistically scheduled to finish in 2014. Meanwhile, a Canadian Arctic Fibre Inc., is developing a 15,600 km submarine cable which is to provide a low latency route between Northern China and Japan to Northern Europe through Canada 's North West Passage.
Posted 24 January 2012; 12:54:07 PM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Postmedia News via Vancouver Sun, 20 January 2012) -- In the midst of a Cold War-esque spy scandal involving a Canadian naval officer accused of passing secrets to a foreign entity, Canadian scientists have quietly accomplished something likely to prove far more effective than espionage or military posturing in affirming — and extending — Canada's sovereignty in the North: They've published two academic studies about Arctic Ocean geology that lend solid support to the country's ambitious claims for new undersea territory in the region. Canada's formal bid to take possession of vast stretches of Arctic Ocean seabed isn't due until the end of 2013, the deadline for this country's submission to the United Nations agency responsible for approving new offshore territorial claims governed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. And under rules agreed to by all five Arctic coastal countries — Canada, Russia, the U.S., Norway and Denmark — scientific evidence compiled from decades of mapping and analyzing the Arctic sea floor will ultimately determine who controls the rich oil-and-gas deposits and other resources believed to lie below the rapidly retreating polar ice. The recent, peer-reviewed publication of new data bolstering Canada's claims, says the federal government's chief of Arctic mapping, marks another major milestone in a decade-long quest that could eventually add an area of underwater territory to Canada as big as the Prairies. "These are the kinds of papers that analyze the new data," says Halifax-based Natural Resources Canada geoscientist Jacob Verhoef, "and set the stage for what we think are going to be the key components of the submission." The scientific studies wouldn't weave well into the plot of a spy thriller. One of them appeared in last month's Journal of Geophysical Research and is titled: "The Crustal Structure of the Alpha Ridge at the transition to the Canadian Polar Margin: Results from a seismic refraction experiment." The other, appearing as a book chapter in the newly published proceedings of an international geological symposium, is titled: "Submarine Landslides in Arctic Sedimentation." But together with a paper published in 2009 on the bedrock connections between the North American continent and Lomonosov Ridge — an undersea mountain range reaching from Ellesmere Island and northwest Greenland to Siberia — the new studies will help underpin Canada's claims for ownership of huge areas of ocean floor beyond the country's continental shelves.
Posted 24 January 2012; 12:49:12 AM. Permalink
(IceNews, 23 January 2012) -- This weekend marked 70 years since residents of the Veturhús farm near Eskifjörður, east Iceland, saved the lives of over 40 British soldiers. The soldiers had set off on foot from Reyðarfjörður over the mountains hoping to reach Eskifjörður. They set off in good weather on the morning of the 20th January 1942. As the day progressed they encountered severe wind and snowfall. A total of 60 British soldiers were on the trek and eight of them died. The ill-fated walk and the ensuing rescue effort were commemorated yesterday at Veturhús, with flowers, candles and flags; as well as speeches and readings from media and personal accounts from the time. Magnús Pálsson, one of the rescuers from 70 years ago, was invited to the British embassy in Reykjavík, where he received official recognition and tribute from the British military. Mayor of Fjarðabyggð (where Veturhús is located) Jens Garðar Helgason, told Vísir.is that the recognition was more than deserved following the bravery and selflessness shown by the young Magnús, his siblings and their mother on that fateful day.
Posted 23 January 2012; 10:51:36 PM. Permalink
(Jill Burke/Alaska Dispatch via Eye on the Arctic, 20 January 2012) -- Just before 6 a.m. on Thursday, the last drops of fuel flowed through two hoses stretching 700 yards from ship to shore in Nome, Alaska. It took more than 60 hours of continuous pumping to transfer an estimated 1.3 million gallons of fuel from a Russian fuel tanker to the Alaska fuel buyer's storage tanks. Crews continue working to clear about 7,000 gallons that remains in the hoses. During the day Thursday, crews were also planning to detach the hoses and clear the safety zone that had been established around the ships and begin preparations for a Friday departure back through 395 miles of Bering Sea pack ice, said Stacey Smith, project manager with Vitus Marine, which hired the Renda to bring the fuel to Nome. The U.S. Coast Guard's ice-breaking cutter Healy will break itself and the Renda free of their parking spots outside Nome's harbor. Then, just as it did for the trip to Nome, the Healy will lead the convoy south in search of open water. According to the Coast Guard, the ships are aiming for a Friday "bon voyage!" Renda's crew has been at sea, busting through ice, for nine months. Healy's crew has been under way for eight. After it leaves the Bering Sea ice pack, Healy will return to Seattle, her home port. "I am extremely proud of the way our partners and the marine industry worked as a collaborative team along with the Coast Guard to get the needed fuel to the residents of Nome." Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, Coast Guard District 17 commander, said in a prepared statement Thursday.
Posted 23 January 2012; 10:47:53 PM. Permalink
(Deborah Zabarenko/Reuters, 23 January 2012) -- The strongest geomagnetic storm in more than six years was forecast to hit Earth's magnetic field on Tuesday, and it could affect airline routes, power grids and satellites, the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center said. A coronal mass ejection — a big chunk of the Sun's atmosphere — was hurled toward Earth on Sunday, driving energized solar particles at about 5 million miles an hour (2,000 km per second), about five times faster than solar particles normally travel, the center's Terry Onsager said. "When it hits us, it's like a big battering ram that pushes into Earth's magnetic field," Onsager said from Boulder, Colorado. "That energy causes Earth's magnetic field to fluctuate." This energy can interfere with high frequency radio communications used by airlines to navigate close to the North Pole in flights between North America, Europe and Asia, so some routes may need to be shifted, Onsager said. It could also affect power grids and satellite operations, the center said in a statement. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station may be advised to shield themselves in specific parts of the spacecraft to avoid a heightened dose of solar radiation, Onsager said. The space weather center said the geomagnetic storm's intensity would probably be moderate or strong, levels two and three on a five-level scale, five being the most extreme.
Posted 23 January 2012; 10:41:28 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 21 January 2010) -- Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland, has so far kept quiet over the news that a group of supporters has opened a petition website asking the incumbent head of state to stand for re-election in June. The President has been in office since 1996 and convention dictates that four terms is the maximum; although there is no law preventing him from standing for a fifth term. Ólafur’s supporters hope that if 40,000 or more people sign the online petition then the President will succumb to their wish for him to stand again. In his new year address to the nation, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (arguably) indicated that he would not stand at this years presidential election; but when pushed for definite confirmation since then he has repeatedly refused to comment. The website was opened yesterday at a press conference in Reykjavík; presented by its creators. The supporters of the President include former government ministers Guðni Ágústsson and Ragnar Arnalds, Vísir.is reported. The petition site had 1,828 signatures at the time of writing and the message those signatories are sending is as follows: “We the undersigned urge you, Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, to put yourself forward as a candidate for the presidential election this summer. We trust you more than most other people to stand watch for the interests of the people during the difficult times which lie ahead.”
Posted 23 January 2012; 10:37:12 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 23 January 2012) -- Greenlandic authorities have opened bidding on oil prospecting licences to the east of the country for the first time. Interest is said to be strong, with over 70 oil companies attending the Greenlanders’ open meeting on the subject last month in Copenhagen. The areas for which search licences are being offered lie in the high Arctic; far north of Iceland and not too far from Svalbard. They are north of Scoresbysund between 75 and 79 degrees north. The areas are being offered in two stages; the first in 2012 and the second in 2013. Applications from oil companies to be permitted to take part must be received by the 1st March and for specific location licences, by the 15th December. The exploration licences will last for 16 years, with the option for extension up to 30 years. It is now ten years since oil exploration licences were first offered off western Greenland and the country has since offered a new area for exploration on average once every two years, Vísir.is reports. There are some 20 licences currently active, which are held by companies including Statoil, ExxonMobil, BP, ChevronTexaco, Shell and Japan Oil. Canada’s Husky Energy has announced it will drill two test wells in Greenlandic waters in summer 2013. The first company to find oil and gas in Greenland was the UK’s Cairn Energy in the autumn of 2010 off Disko Island, 200 km north of Nuuk. The company put its programme on hold this winter, however, after drilling eight holes at great cost, without finding enough evidence of fossil fuels to make it worthwhile.
Posted 23 January 2012; 10:20:46 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 23 January 2012) -- A Canadian company is planning to build a fibre optic line which could bring significantly faster internet speeds to the eastern Arctic. Ontario-based Arctic Fibre Inc. wants to run 15,868 kilometres of the cable under water. It would stretch from northern Asia, under the Pacific Ocean, through the Northwest Passage and across the Atlantic to Europe. It would also provide high speed internet to some northern communities. The proposed network would include connections to Tuktoyaktuk in the N.W.T., and Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak, Igloolik, Hall Beach, Cape Dorset and Iqaluit in Nunavut. "And that will create so many different opportunities for people, just in terms of how they conduct their affairs," Arctic Fibre president Doug Cunningham told CBC News. "Within the cable itself, we'll have four fibre pairs. And those four fibre pairs will be capable of conducting 12.8 terabits, which is like moving 150 million simultaneous phone calls or slightly more than 1.2 million high definition movies at the same time. It's a lot of capacity," he said. Cunningham estimates the entire project will cost about $640 million, 40 per cent of which he said would be spent in Canadian waters. "The reason it becomes economic is because we can apportion part of that Canadian rate base or investment to the international carriers. And that's what gets it going; it's a combination of the international demand, along with having satellite displacement in Nunavut." The company is planning construction on the first phase of the project, a line between Newfoundland and Iqaluit, in the fall of 2013.
Posted 23 January 2012; 10:14:10 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 17 January 2012) -- Denmark has appointed its first permanent Arctic ambassador whose primary task will be to coordinate activities connected to the country’s Arctic strategy. Ambassador Klaus A. Holm is appointed to the post and will, according to Foreign Minister Sovndal, ensure progress in the Arctic and ensure the Danish National Community a visible position in the international debate on the Arctic. "Profound changes are happening in the Arctic now that gives us challenges and opportunities. We are determined to solve these together with Greenland and the Faroe Islands," he says to Danmarks Radio. Ambassador Klaus A. Holm has been employed in the Foreign Ministry since 1980 and has served at the Danish embassy in Paris and London and at the EU representation in Brussels.
Posted 23 January 2012; 9:12:15 PM. Permalink
(YLE, 21 January 2012) -- Experts believe that the Sami languages could become casualties of rural depopulation in Finland. More than half of Sami-speaking children now live outside Sami regions, in areas where language instruction is difficult to access. Linda Länsman is one of the few Sami teachers in the capital city region. Having moved south ten years ago, Länsman now works at a daycare centre in the Helsinki suburb of Kulosaari. Her work there includes, among other things, teaching Sami to six-year-old Joika Partin. Joika is lucky, as language instruction is hard to find for Sami children. There are just a few students in the capital city region, even though there are estimated to be hundreds of Sami children living in the area. They often do not even use their language at home. “If one of the parents is Finnish, they speak Finnish at home, and the child does not learn Sami,” says Länsman. Preserving the Sami language was a struggle up until the 1960s. After the war Sami were threatened by assimilation policies, but now urbanisation is a bigger threat. “The Finnish language law only provides for the protection of Sami languages in the Sami regions,” says Sami language and culture lecturer Irja Seurujärvi-Kari of Helsinki University. “From the start of the century it has been apparent that more and more Sami are moving to the cities.” The government acknowledged the situation a year ago, and set a ‘Sami resuscitation programme’ in motion. A working group due to report early this year is expected to recommend improvements in the organisation of language tuition, and a Sami centre in the Helsinki area. “If there is no support for language learning from outside the home, then language acquisition by the next generation will not happen,” says Seurujärvi-Kari. “If the next generation does not speak the language, then the language dies.”
Posted 23 January 2012; 9:02:49 PM. Permalink
(ENS, 17 January 2012) -- TORONTO, Ontario, Canada - Drawn by rapid climate changes in the resource-rich Arctic, China, India and Brazil, which have no Arctic territories, are knocking on the door of the increasingly influential Arctic Council looking for admission as permanent observers. The issue has divided existing members, with Russia and Canada most strongly opposed. It is among the major questions with which Canada will have to grapple as it prepares to chair the Arctic Council next year. The issue is on the agenda of a two-day meeting on the future of the Arctic Council, which opened today in Toronto. The second annual Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Conference has attracted more than 100 participants from 15 nations, including experts, national ambassadors and indigenous leaders. Full members of the Arctic Council are Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark via Greenland - the eight countries with Arctic territory. Six northern indigenous groups - the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich'in Council International, Sami Council, Russian Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the North and Aleut International Association - are permanent participants. The Arctic Council is the only international organization that gives indigenous peoples a formal place at the table. Another six non-Arctic nations sit in as observers today: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. However, many more non-Arctic countries, which in addition to China, India and Brazil, include Japan, South Korea, the European Union and several individual European states, now want observer status, a step that some fear would increase the influence of non-Arctic participants. Many non-Arctic countries are interested in the Arctic as the "canary in the coal mine" on climate change. They are also interested in the potential access to the vast hydrocarbons and resources in the region and the cost-savings of using shorter Arctic shipping routes.
Posted 21 January 2012; 10:30:12 PM. Permalink
(UPI, 9 January 2012) -- LINKOPING, Sweden - A Swedish-made unmanned helicopter successfully completed a series of mission flight tests over the Arctic Ocean, its maker says. CybAero AB, the manufacturer of the system, said its APID 60 was put through its paces in search and rescue, and reconnaissance and surveillance in collaboration with the Norwegian Coast Guard and Coastal Agency near the Norwegian village of Vardo. Vardo is located along the Norwegian Polar Sea and gale force winds were blowing when the tests were conducted. "It's one thing to show that you can fly, but quite another to actually perform the task in these harsh conditions," said Andreas Gising, fight operations officer and manager on site in Vardo.
Posted 12 January 2012; 9:17:45 PM. Permalink
(Invest in the Faroes, 3 January 2012) -- Although the Faroe Islands has a population of only 50,000 people, the country has its own University with about 600 students. For the past few years, increased funding to the University has enabled it to develop new courses of study. Some of these relate directly to the Faroese labour market and will thus satisfy the demand for higher education in applied as well as theoretical fields. For example, the University will offer a new degree programme in food science. One of the aims of this programme will be to to improve the applied aspects of the food industry in the Faroe Islands, but it will also aim to develop the industry's opportunities for growth and prosperity. At the same time, the programme will seek to contribute to the scientific side of the food industry while taking into consideration the natural resources in the Faroe Islands, especially the marine resources – the main basis of the Faroese economy. Another course of study that the University of the Faroe Islands is working on developing is in communication and journalism. Until now Faroese people have had to move to Denmark, Norway or other neighbouring countries to pursue higher education this field. The specifics surrounding the degree in communication and journalism are not set in stone yet, but it is likely to be arranged as a Master's level degree programme that can be taken after achieving a Bachelor's degree in the social sciences or the arts. The plan is also to offer the new degree programme as an option for those people that already have an advanced higher education in related fields.
Posted 12 January 2012; 6:28:36 PM. Permalink
(Rheana Murray / New York Daily News, 11 January 2012) -- Dwindling Arctic Sea ice is cutting off polar bears’ food supply, forcing the starving animals to devour their own kind. While cannibalism among polar bears isn’t unheard of, experts say the behavior is becoming increasingly common. “There are increasing numbers of observations of it occurring,” photojournalist Jenny Ross told BBC News. “Particularly on land where polar bears are trapped ashore, completely food-deprived for extended periods of time due to the loss of sea ice as a result of climate change.” Ross explained how the higher temperatures melt ice more quickly, leaving the bears less time to fuel up on ice-dependent seals, the animals’ main source of food. “Weights of adults are decreasing, litters are smaller, fewer young bears are surviving, and the overall population size is shrinking,” she said. Ross, whose research was published in the January 2012 edition of
Posted 12 January 2012; 10:17:24 AM. Permalink
(Mary Pemberton/Anchorage Daily News, 10 January 2012) -- Shifting ice in the Bering Sea is dramatically slowing a Russian tanker's mission to deliver fuel to the iced-in community of Nome. A Coast Guard spokesman said Monday that an icebreaker and a fuel tanker are encountering "some really dynamic ice" that is slowing the mission and sometimes forcing both vessels to come to a complete stop. But, "As long as we're making progress, we're going to Nome," said Anchorage Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley. A worst case scenario would be that the ice becomes too much for any progress. But Mosley doubts that would be the case since the Coast Guard cutter Healy has the ability to make it all the way to Nome. Jason Evans, chairman of Sitnasuak Native Corp., the company arranging for the fuel delivery by Russian tanker, had no qualms Monday. "I think we are getting to Nome," he said, adding he will be there for the arrival. Nome is in need of diesel and unleaded gasoline after a fall fuel delivery by barge was delayed by a storm that swept western Alaska. By the time the weather had improved, Nome was iced-in and a barge delivery was impossible. ... The Healy, an icebreaker designed to move through ice several feet thick, is leading the 370-foot Renda, a Russian tanker loaded with 1.3 million gallons of petroleum products. The plan was for the two ships to deliver fuel to Nome on Monday, but because of the icy conditions, that arrival date is off. Coast Guard officials are not saying when they expect the vessels to arrive, but it could be later this week. "The dynamics of things make it a pretty intense transit," Cmdr. Greg Tlapa, the executive officer of the Healy, told The Associated Press by satellite phone Monday afternoon as the icebreaker was about 111 miles south-southwest of Nome. ... The ships are in constant communication, with the Healy relaying over VHF radio any speed or propulsion changes and what they are seeing ahead. There's an active duty Coast Guardsman on the Healy who is fluent in Russian, Tlapa said. There's an Alaska marine pilot on board the Renda, and the vessel agent speaks English. "It's slow and steady, but we're making good progress," Tlapa said.
Posted 12 January 2012; 10:15:03 AM. Permalink
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, January 6, 2012 (ENS) - This weekend, on its way to deliver more than a million gallons of emergency fuel to the town of Nome, Alaska, the Russian tanker Renda will move through an area used by wintering spectacled eiders, a federally threatened sea duck. To protect the ducks and their habitat, resource managers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and navigators from the U.S. Coast Guard are using satellite telemetry information from the U.S. Geological Survey to plot a route for the tanker that minimizes its impact. "Protecting America's fish and wildlife resources is a shared responsibility. It is satisfying to see agencies working together to protect threatened and endangered species, while meeting the needs of our communities," said Ellen Lance, the Endangered Species Branch chief for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Alaska Region. The arctic nesting sea ducks are now wintering south of St. Lawrence Island in the northern Bering Sea, where sea ice and abundant prey make their winter survival possible. But in Nome, a fuel shortage is creating an emergency. Fuel delivery to the town of 3,600, located on the edge of the Bering Sea on the southwest side of the Seward Peninsula, was delayed by what AccuWeather's Vickie Frantz calls the "snowicane" conditions that struck during the first week of November. A fuel barge carrying 1.6 million gallons of fuel was en route to Nome when the storm hit. The barge was delayed and was unable to reach the town before winter sea ice closed in. Nome is now surrounded by foot-thick ice. In early December, the Sitnasuak Native Corporation of Nome signed a contract with the Alaska company Vitus Marine to deliver more than a million gallons of diesel fuel and 400,000 gallons of gasoline to Nome via a double-hulled Ice Classed Russian tanker. The vessel is certified to travel through four feet of ice and recently traveled through five feet of ice for extended distances while delivering fuel to communities in the Russian Far East.
Posted 8 January 2012; 8:00:50 PM. Permalink
(AP via Anchorage Daily News, 7 January 2012) -- A Russian tanker carrying much-needed fuel for iced-in Nome was about 190 miles from its destination late Saturday afternoon and making slow but steady progress, a company official said. The city of about 3,500 people on the northwest Alaska coastline didn't get its last pre-winter fuel delivery because of a massive storm and could run out of crucial supplies before spring without the delivery. The 370-foot tanker was carrying more than 1.3 million gallons of fuel and was being shepherded through hundreds of miles of sea ice by the U.S. Coast Guard's only icebreaker. "They're navigating through ice right now, taking a direct route for now," said Jason Evans, the CEO of Sitnasuak Native Corp., one of the companies undertaking the delivery. "They considered going through patches where there might be thinner ice, but determined that would have taken them on a longer route." Evans estimated the ship traveled another 20 or 30 miles after a Saturday morning report. The ship is scheduled to arrive late Monday or perhaps Tuesday. If the mission is successful, it will be the first time fuel has been delivered by sea to a Western Alaska community in winter. The Russian tanker came upon ice about a foot thick very early Friday near Nunivak Island in the eastern Bering Sea, the Coast Guard said. The tanker is following the Healy, the Coast Guard's only functioning icebreaker -- a ship of special design with a reinforced hull made to move through ice. "It's going basically as planned," Evans said.
Posted 8 January 2012; 2:01:53 PM. Permalink
(Alison Weisburger/The Arctic Institute Center for Circumpolar Policy Studies, 6 January 2012) -- Anyone following Alaskan news in the past few weeks has undoubtedly heard about the saga of the Russian fuel tanker Renda and its journey to deliver fuel to ice-bound Nome. For those who are not up to date on the story, it began back in November when a massive storm prevented Nome from receiving its last barge delivery of home heating fuel, diesel and gasoline for the winter. By the time the weather calmed down, Nome was already iced-in and it was confirmed that there would be no final fall delivery. At that time, it looked certain that the community would run out of fuel in the spring. The only proven method to deliver fuel to Western Alaska in the winter is with aircraft hauling the fuel one airplane load at a time, consuming a vast amount of time and money. In response to the impending crisis, Sitnasuak Native Corporation, the native village corporation of Nome, was able to negotiate a deal with Vitus Marine LLC, an Alaskan-based shipping company, to secure the double hulled Russian tanker Renda to pick up and deliver the fuel. This will be the first-ever winter fuel delivery from the water in Western Alaska. The tanker will be accompanied by a U.S. Coast Guard’s icebreaker, the Healy. After traveling around 250 miles a day from a diesel fuel pickup in South Korea, then stopping in Dutch Harbor, Alaska to collect gasoline, the Renda is now on its way to Nome with the cutter Healy. Although the fuel delivery mission is not yet complete, there are already several lessons to take away from this incident about the realities of the Arctic environment, the necessity for advanced Arctic shipping capabilities, and the importance of multi-level cooperation. First, the storm in November that prevented a routine barge delivery to Nome serves as a reminder that the Arctic environment continues to be not only harsh, but also extremely volatile. ... First, the storm in November that prevented a routine barge delivery to Nome serves as a reminder that the Arctic environment continues to be not only harsh, but also extremely volatile. ... Perhaps the most important lesson from this story, although subtle, is the successful cooperation that occurred between private and public entities, internationally, and intergovernmentally, that enabled the mission to go forward. ... If the Renda reaches Nome and delivers the fuel successfully, as is planned by late Sunday or early Monday, it will be a cause for celebration. Not only is this delivery critical for the community of Nome, but it also marks an historic accomplishment of winter shipping in Alaska. However, it should also serve as a time of reflection on the lessons that can be taken away from the mission and a reminder of what factors need to be taken into consideration in the future as activities in the Arctic region intensify.
Posted 8 January 2012; 1:33:36 PM. Permalink
(Laine Welch/Anchorage Daily News, 7 January 2012) -- The Bering Sea snow crab fishery is picking up earlier than usual as the fleet scrambles to pull up the catch before encroaching sea ice shuts them down. About 25 boats are out so far, soon to be joined by 60 or so more, with a weather forecast calling for frigid weather and high winds.Although the fishery opens by regulation Oct. 15, most crabbers usually wait until mid-January to begin dropping pots. The snow crab catch quota was boosted 64 percent this season to nearly 80 million pounds. Boats left the dock without settling on a price, and the increased supply is depressing the market. "The problem we have in the snow crab market is that before the catch share program began in 2005, the fishery started on the 15th of January, so that is when the market formed, and negotiations were typically done about a week before. Although the fishery has been starting earlier and earlier, negotiations are still taking place at the traditional time period. "There's negotiations taking place between the packers and the Japanese and domestic buyers as we speak," said Jake Jacobsen, director of the Inter-Cooperative Exchange, which represents a majority of the crab fleet. There also is quite a bit of Canadian snow crab in freezers that buyers are trying to sell before that fishery begins in April. Jacobsen said it all adds up to lower crab prices.
Posted 8 January 2012; 12:40:20 PM. Permalink
(Canadian Press via CTV, 4 January 2012) -- HALIFAX - A new scientific study suggests harp seals in the North Atlantic are dying at high rates because of warming waters and a steady decline of sea ice in their traditional breeding grounds. The research by scientists at Duke University in North Carolina tracked the decrease of sea ice due to global warming and the mortality of harp seals from 1992 to 2010. David Johnston, a marine scientist who co-wrote the report, said it's the first study to show that seasonal ice cover in the four seal breeding areas of North America has receded by as much as six per cent per decade. "There has been a string of light ice years recently and we're starting to be concerned that if ice continues to decline, this might have longer-term effects on the harp seal population," Johnston said from his office in Beaufort, N.C. "I'm concerned that these animals are in for a tough road with what we're seeing with climate change." The authors warned that they could see the disappearance of a year's entire seal pup herd due to a lack of ice, where females traditionally go to give birth every February and March. Pups usually drown if born in the water or on thin, unstable ice. The study was funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which has lobbied against the annual Canadian seal hunt. Johnston said the participation of the animal-rights group didn't affect the objectivity of the report, which was peer-reviewed.
Posted 5 January 2012; 11:23:32 AM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 4 January 2012) -- Russia plans to continue its large-scaled clean-up of Arctic islands in 2012. As much as 18 000 tons of scrap metal will be shipped out through the Nenets port of Amderma. Russia wants to clean up the environmental mess on its Arctic Islands and has allocated hundreds of millions of rubles for the work over the coming years. Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment plans to continue reversing accumulated environmental damage in the Arctic. In 2012 Russia will focus on cleaning up polluted areas on Svalbard and Amderma. Between 12,000 and 18,000 tons of scrap metal will be shipped from the port of Amderma, Deputy Minister Rinat Gizatullin said according to the Nenets paper Nyaryana Vynder. Amderma is planned to become a key site in the development of offshore oil and gas fields in the western part of the Russian Arctic and an important base for traffic along the Northern Sea Route. According to preliminary estimates, the total polluted area around Amderma exceeds 82 square kilometers and the local scrap stockpiles may amount to more than 114 000 tons. The Arctic clean-up started in 2011, when the research vessel Mikhail Somov transported more than 1800 empty fuel barrels collected on the Wrangel Island and on Franz Josef Land to Arkhangelsk. According to the Russian information and analytical portal Arctic Universe, there are still some 250,000 barrels holding some 40 to 60,000 tons of oil products on Franz Josef Land. Also, some additional one million empty barrels are dumped near the now closed down bases. Other kinds of waste include abounded [sic] aircrafts, rusty broken radar stations, different kind of Arctic vehicles and other leftover garbage. The Russian government has allocated 740 million rubles to Arctic environmental cleanup in 2011 and 2012.
Posted 5 January 2012; 10:38:12 AM. Permalink
(ICTMN, 2 January 2012) -- This time last year the Inuit in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut territory, were battling the Arctic equivalent of a heat wave: Temperatures hovering around freezing were making roads slushy and icy, obliterating the blizzard conditions that they are used to driving in. That caused a bit of mayhem on the roads. At the moment, temperatures seem to be back on track, with temperatures on Monday January 2, 2012, hovering at –20 Fahrenheit. That was one notable event in Northern territory in January of 2011. Plenty of news both large and small came out of Canada’s northern regions. ...
Posted 4 January 2012; 12:05:51 PM. Permalink
(Mary Pemberton/Anchorage Daily News, 1 January 2012) -- A Russian tanker's mission to deliver petroleum products to an iced-in Alaska city cleared a large hurdle when a waiver was granted allowing the loading of hundreds of thousands of gallons of gasoline at a port in the Aleutian Islands. The 370-foot tanker is due to arrive in the fishing port of Dutch Harbor at 6 p.m. Monday, the Coast Guard said Sunday. The waiver of the federal Jones Act granted Friday was crucial to the tanker completing its mission of delivering petroleum products to Nome, a city of about 3,500 residents on Alaska's western coastline. A huge storm this fall delayed delivery by barge and by the time the weather had improved Nome was iced-in. There are a variety of petroleum products on hand in Nome, but it doesn't have enough gasoline and diesel fuel to last until spring. The
Posted 2 January 2012; 1:16:03 PM. Permalink