Top of the World Telegraph – Vol. 6, Issue 25: 6 October 2010

6 10 2010

Top of the World Telegraph
News from the Arctic
Vol. 6, Issue 25: 6 October 2010

There will be no Top of the World Telegraph next week, as the Institute hosts the 2010 Arctic Aviation Experts Conference in Fairbanks.  Watch for the next issue to be sent the week of Oct. 20.
 News from around the Region
Alaska/United States
NOAA ship charts new Arctic routes (, 10/04/10)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently dispatched a surveying vessel to pinpoint navigational hazards in the Arctic Ocean. The Fairweather, based in Ketchikan, Alaska, will detect dangers in Arctic waters that haven’t been charted for more than 50 years, according to NOAA, which deployed the ship at the request of U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska Maritime Pilots and the commercial shipping industry. The Fairweather spent July and August 2010 examining seafloor features, measuring ocean depths and supplying data that will be used to update NOAA nautical charts that cover 350 square nautical miles in the Bering Straits near Cape Prince of Wales.
Crowley to operate eco-friendly barges in Western Alaska (MarineLink, 10/01/10)
Crowley announced its plans to construct two double-hulled, combination deck cargo and tank barges for service in Western Alaska. The vessels, named DBL 165-1 and DBL 165-2, are scheduled to be delivered in April and May of 2011, and will be home ported in Nome, Alaska. The double-hull barges will be used for shallow draft operations and beach landings for the delivery of fuel and cargo to the remote communities of Western Alaska.
NTCL considering Montreal shipping option (Northern New Service Online, 10/04/10)
Responding to a competitive market, Northern Transportation Company Ltd. (NTCL) is mulling a new east coast shipping option to prevent the loss of more Kitikmeot business to rival companies like Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping (NEAS) and Nunavut Sealink and Supply Inc. (NSSI), which are both based in Montreal and capable of shipping goods faster to the Kitikmeot region.
London club warns of over-reliance on GPS (MarineLink, 10/05/10)
The London P&I Club said a recent casualty involving a containership serves as a timely reminder of the consequences of failing to check navigation charts for information about corrections that need to be applied to satellite-derived positions.
U.S. Coast Guard participates in multinational exercise with Russia (U.S. Coast Guard News, 09/30/10)
A visit by the U.S.C.G. cutter Jarvis to the remote northern Kamchatka peninsula was part of an ongoing working relationship between the Coast Guard Seventeenth District and the Northeast Border Guard Directorate.  The two agencies meet regularly to coordinate joint fisheries enforcement efforts designed to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing occurring along shared maritime borders in the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean. Russian and U.S. officers noted the incredible progress made in official relationships between the Border Guard and Coast Guard, praising international cooperative enforcement as a model for continuing to improve diplomatic relations as well as accomplishing common maritime goals between the two nations.
Planned seaport would turn Murmansk into major hub (St. Petersburg Times, 10/05/10)
A new seaport may be built in Murmansk as part of a government initiative to develop the northern city as a key transportation hub, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said. Murmansk represents one of the country’s most promising transportation hubs because its waters do not freeze in the winter and provide ships with direct access to the ocean, Ivanov said. He said the Sea Board, a government body that oversees maritime issues, would meet to consider an investment plan for Murmansk that includes the construction of a new seaport in Murmansk Bay. The Sea Board meeting will also consider how to enforce the government’s policies on Arctic development through 2020, he said.
Russian polar explorers get funds from Medvedev, blessing from Putin (RIA Novosti, 10/03/10)
The Russian polar expedition that recently began received the essential funding under a special decree by President Dmitry Medvedev and a blessing from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, famous polar explorer Artur Chilingarov said. The fate of this year’s expedition was in doubt over funding problems until a group of renowned Russian explorers and researchers appealed to the president, Chilingarov said on board the nuclear-powered icebreaker Rossiya that left the Murmansk port and set out on a 25-day journey to the North Pole. This ship will deliver the SP-38 polar station with 15 explorers to a drifting ice floe for a year-long stint. Related blog: Arctic notes from an icebreaker.
First passenger ferry through Northeast Passage (BarentsObserver, 09/30/10)
The ferry Georg Ots has successfully made it through the Northeast Passage, Russian maritime authorities confirm. The ferry left Sankt Petersburg Aug. 28 with Vladivostok as its destination; on Sept. 26 the vessel arrived in the port of Anadyr in Chukotka. The ship is expected also to make a stop in Petropavlovsk at Kamchatka after its stop in Vladivostok. According to the Russian Sea and Port Agency (Rosmorport), the ship was accompanied through the Northern Sea Route by nuclear-powered icebreakers.
New welding technology for polar LNG carriers (The Motorship, 09/30/10)
Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) of Korea recently announced that it plans to develop a specialised welding technology for polar LNG carrier tanks. This is part of the company’s long term strategy for the expected increase in demand for LNG carriers and LNG FPSOs to be used in the polar region as interest in natural gas development in that area has been growing. HHI expects to make inroads in the polar LNG carrier and LNG FPSO market ahead of gas development projects in the Arctic Ocean where it is estimated that 44 billion barrels of natural gas, or 30 percent of world natural gas reserves, are located.

Iqaluit, Whitehorse rank last in social media savvy (CBC News, 10/06/10)
A recent report by Intelegia, a Montreal-based technology and marketing consulting firm, ranked 20 Canadian cities on how they use the internet to connect with their residents and with the outside world. Intelegia ranked the cities based on how much they employ sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr, as well as blogs and podcasts. The report gave Whitehorse and Iqaluit each a score of zero, putting them at the bottom of the rankings. Both sites are considered to have mostly Web 1.0 material, meaning mainly static pages instead of the “dynamic user-generated content” associated with Web 2.0, according to the report.
Nunavut Broadband rolls out new services (NunatsiaqOnline, 10/01/10)
The Nunavut Broadband Development Corporation rolled out two long-delayed services at the Nunavut Trade Show Sept. 22. Nunavut Broadband has established two dedicated pipelines of bandwidth separate from the Qiniq internet network: one for videoconferencing and the other for large file transfers. The videoconferencing service, called “Meet Online,” will eventually come in three different levels of accounts depending on the level of use. The new setup lets communication between Nunavut communities take place in a single satellite hop, which reduces use of expensive satellite bandwidth and lessens the time-delay in videoconferences.
NPT unveils new termination rates, symmetry expected by 2013 (TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, 09/30/10)
The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NPT) has announced that it has adopted a resolution under which the country’s mobile network operators and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) will be required to reduce mobile termination rates (MTRs). Having used Long Run Average Incremental Cost (LRAIC) as the basis for the new charge proposals, the regulator revealed that symmetric rates would be in place by the beginning of 2013.
Sibirtelecom, Synterra announce Siberian broadband expansion plans (TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, 10/06/10)
Russian regional operator Sibirtelecom has launched Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) services in the city of Barnaul, in the Altai Territory of Siberia. Sibirtelecom plans to invest RUB600 million (USD19.8 million) in its GPON network in the Altai region by the end of 2011, launching a total of 42,000 ports; 5000 ports have been promised by the end of 2010. Elsewhere in the region, fellow regional operator Synterra, which was acquired in June 2010 by mobile operator MegaFon, has rolled out its broadband network in the Krasnoyarsk region, installing two main access nodes in the cities of Kansk and Achinsk. Synterra’s newly constructed network will form part of the company’s digital terrestrial backbone network, which has been earmarked to cover at least 75 regions across Russia.
Cellphone operator moves to expand beyond Russia (The New York Times, 10/05/10)
VimpelCom, Russia’s second-largest cellphone operator, said it would acquire the sprawling telecommunications assets of the Egyptian entrepreneur Naguib Sawiris to form the world’s fifth-largest mobile phone company. The deal will expand VimpelCom to 20 countries, more than doubling the total number of subscribers to 174 million, though many are in poor nations where monthly cellphone payments are small. VimpelCom’s chief executive, Alexander Izosimov, suggested in a statement that the deal would change the character of what had been a company with a limited geographic focus. The business in the former Soviet states was highly profitable, but had slowed in recent years as nearly everybody in the former bloc who wanted a cellphone had one, even in remote areas.
New Glonass-K satellite to be launched in December (RIA Novosti, 10/01/10)
The first launch of the new generation Glonass-K navigation satellite from Russia’s Plesetsk space center will take place in December, the Space Forces commander said. Glonass – the Global Navigation Satellite System – is the Russian equivalent of the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian use. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters. In addition, a Proton carrier rocket with three Glonass-M satellites will be launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan in December.
Finnair hires four “quality hunters” to travel across the world for two months (Helsingin Sanomat, 10/05/10)
Four new quality hunters started their work as test passengers for the Finnish national carrier Finnair. Test passengers are to monitor the quality of Finnair’s services, sharing their experiences on a personal blog. The four globetrotters were selected from more than 5,200 applicants from almost 90 countries. Finnair hopes to get valuable advice from the quality hunters about how to improve its services.
Norway tests military medical evacuation gear for SAS 737 (Flightglobal, 10/05/10)
Norway will declare operational capability in early 2011 with a new suite of medical evacuation equipment that will enable a Scandinavian Airlines Boeing 737-700 commercial airliner to be rapidly reconfigured for casualty evacuation duties. A first demonstration of the new installation was made at Oslo’s Gardermoen airport in late September, following the completion of work by prime contractor Marshall Aerospace. SAS will guarantee the availability of one modified aircraft within a 24 hour notice period once the medical evacuation system becomes operational, and two aircraft within 36 hours. The airline will provide the aircrews required to support emergency taskings, with the Norwegian military to provide medical personnel.
Norwegian to open 11 new Finnish routes (NewsRoom Finland, 10/05/10)
No-frills carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle said in a statement it would open nine international and two domestic routes in Finland next year. “We are happy to announce that we are increasing our presence in Finland by opening a new base in Helsinki and basing three of our aircraft here,” Bjorn Kjos, the managing director of Norwegian, said in a statement. Flights from Helsinki-Vantaa airport to Alicante, Barcelona, Chania, Copenhagen, London Gatwick, Malaga, Nice, Rome and Split as well as to Oulu and Rovaniemi within Finland are to start next spring.
UTAir to replace Tu-134 with Sukhoi Superjet 100 (RIA Novosti, 10/04/10)
UTAir, one of Russia’s four largest airlines, will replace its Tupolev Tu-134 airliners with Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft. “Under a fleet modernization program, UTAir has concluded a tender to choose a commercial civilian passenger jet to replace the Tu-134 in its fleet. Two modifications of Sukhoi Superjet 100, RRJ-75B and RRJ-95B, have won the tender, “the company said. Eight Russian and foreign companies participated in the process. The Superjet 100 is a family of medium-haul passenger aircraft developed by Sukhoi in cooperation with U.S. and European aviation corporations, including Boeing, Snecma, Thales, Messier Dowty, Liebherr Aerospace and Honeywell.
New test plane flies without flaps (ars technica, 10/05/10)
Researchers in the UK have flown the first aircraft that can maneuver without conventional control surfaces like flaps. In place of elevators and ailerons, the aircraft uses jets of air along the back of the wing to control lift. The demonstration aircraft has been developed as a test bed for new flight-control systems and aircraft manufacture techniques.
Other Areas of General Interest
Alaska/United States
Native corporations report record combined revenues (Anchorage Daily News, 10/05/10)
Alaska’s 12 regional Native corporations – with home bases ranging from Juneau to Barrow – generated $6.9 billion in revenue in 2008, the most recent year for which data from all of the firms was available. That’s a record amount – an 18 percent increase in revenue from 2007 and a more than 100 percent increase since 2004, according to a new report released by the ANCSA Regional Association, a league of the regional corporations created by Congress in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The 1971 federal law settled Native claims to most of Alaska’s land, creating the Native-owned companies and seeding them with land and cash.
Canada calculating polar bear’s value (CBC News, 10/05/10)
Environment Canada plans to spend up to $44,000 on a study to appraise the polar bear’s value as a national icon. The department has put out a tender for companies to study the “socio-economic importance of polar bears for Canada.” The department says there is “a need to better understand the current state of knowledge of economic values associated with polar bears.” Canada has about two-thirds of the world’s 25,000 bears.
New Inuit resource corporation gets organized (NunatsiaqOnline, 10/05/10)
The Kitikmeot Inuit Association wants to see Inuit benefit from the “upside” of non-renewable resource development through a new corporation, called the Nunavut Resources Corp. Formally set up last January, this corporation plans to invest in gas, oil or mineral projects and bring them into production. Other regional Inuit organizations have been invited to join the corporation, which is shaping up quickly, thanks to $1 million last year in federal seed money and another $1 million in the works for this coming year. A technical advisory team is now working on fine-tuning the NRC’s structure.
22 million EUR more to the High North (BarentsObserver, 09/29/10)
The Norwegian Government plans to increase the High North efforts with 22 million EUR for 2011. This will increase the Governments annual funds on the Norwegian High North to a total of 150 million EUR. The record high funds on the Norwegian High North policy is aimed at strengthening sectors like settlements policy, labor market, wealth creation, climate and environment preservation, sustainable management, competence and culture. According to a press release from the office of Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, important tasks which the funds will be invested in is a better surveillance system at sea for the Barents Sea region, strengthening of the research on marine bioprospecting, weather radar for eastern Finnmark, more funds for polar research and development of competence on the High North and the Arctic regions.
The disappearing world of the last of the Arctic hunters (The Guardian, 10/03/10)
Unlike other Inuit populations across the Arctic, the Inughuit have maintained where possible their ancient way of life, using kayaks and harpoons to hunt narwhal and travelling by dog-sled in winter. This unique way of life is now under threat. In the first of a series of dispatches, the author reports on the unique culture of the Inughuit as the sea ice that has supported their ancient way of life melts beneath them.
Russia’s new Arctic strategy ready in two weeks (BarentsObserver, 10/06/10)
A proposal for strategic development of the Arctic will be handed over to the Russian Government in two weeks time, says Minister of Regional Development Viktor Basargin. With the new concept for strategic development of the Arctic Russia is changing its approach to exploration of natural resources in the Arctic. Earlier the main argument was to preserve resources for coming generations, but now the focus has turned to use of the resources. Russia is the last of the countries with access to the Arctic to adopt a plan for Arctic development.
Alaska/United States

Shell scales back Arctic exploration in 2011 (Anchorage Daily News, 10/06/10)
Shell Oil announced that it has scaled back its Arctic Ocean exploration plans in 2011 to promising sites in the Beaufort Sea, backing off prospects in the Chukchi Sea until legal clouds are cleared. The company has applied for one exploration well in the Beaufort the northern Alaska coast and will seek a permit for a second. The company will hold off applying for well permits in the Chukchi off Alaska’s northwest coast until two court cases are resolved. Shell’s plans to drill exploration wells in the both areas this year were put on hold by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Salazar suspended applications for permits, and has set no timetable for lifting the suspension.
Gulf oil spill response ill-managed, presidential panel says (The Washington Post, 10/06/10)
The Obama administration’s response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was marked by confusion over the spill rate and conflicts between agencies, which kept the public in the dark for weeks about the magnitude of the environmental disaster resulting from the April 20 well blowout, according to reports released by a presidential panel investigating the spill. A separate working paper on “Decision-Making within the Unified Command,” criticized a “lack of regulatory guidance” in legislation for contributing to confusion about the roles of the national incident commander.
Analysis: Wind-diesel systems in Alaska (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 10/04/10)
More than a dozen wind-diesel systems are generating electricity in remote rural places in western Alaska, and additional systems are being built or planned in a growing number of other rural communities. They are intended to reduce the high cost of electricity in rural Alaska – by reducing the amount of diesel communities need – and at the same time increase the use of renewable energy. The Alaska Renewable Energy Fund is paying for construction of many systems, with additional funding from the Denali Commission and private industry. But are these systems generating as much power from wind as expected, and are they producing power at lower cost than conventional diesel generators? Researchers at ISER and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power recently did the first multi-system engineering and economic analysis. Link to summary: Wind-diesel systems in Alaska: A preliminary analysis.
Alaska offshore plans should reflect conditions there, panel told (Oil & Gas Journal, 10/04/10)
Concerns raised following the Apr. 20 Macondo well accident and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may not fully apply to activity off Alaska, witnesses told U.S. President Barack Obama’s independent oil spill commission. They agreed that conditions are different that far north, but disagreed on whether to go ahead or wait.
Senators oppose ANWR wilderness review (Petroleum News, 10/03/10)
Alaska’s U.S. senators say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has no business conducting reviews of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to see if more areas should be designated as wilderness. The service announced Sept. 27 it will review three areas of the refuge, including the coastal plain, or 1002 area, believed to contain an estimated 11 billion barrels of recoverable oil. A wilderness designation would preclude petroleum drilling.  Related article: Arctic refuge is back as an oil, environment battleground .
Reducing fuel costs critical to rural survival (The Arctic Sounder, 10/02/10)
As rural Alaska continues to struggle with high energy prices, efforts are increasing to reduce dependence on fossil fuels with more research into renewable energy and conservation, and improving the efficiency of existing fuel systems. According to an Alaska Energy Authority report, the capital cost for non-Railbelt electric and space heat infrastructure additions over the next 20 years will total $2,846,000,000.

Corridor Resources to start testing in Gulf of St. Lawrence (The Chronicle Herald, 10/05/10)
Corridor Resources Inc. is expected to begin its seismic program soon in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, despite opposition from environmental and community groups concerned about the possible impact on migratory patterns of whales. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board gave the publicly traded Halifax-based company the final regulatory approvals for the project Oct. 4. “This work is a seabed survey to study the seabed (to) determine what the sediment types are down there and to assess whatever hazards might be down there,” said Paul Durling, Corridor Resources’ chief geophysicist. The geohazard survey will cost about $800,000 and take about six days to complete, he said.
Underwater mikes missed whales in plain view (The Canadian Press, 10/05/10)
Special underwater microphones aboard a BP ship in the Beaufort Sea didn’t always detect whales – even though the animals were in plain view of the crew, new documents show. That has environmentalists worried that the company behind a gigantic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could endanger whales and other marine mammals as it scours the Arctic for oil and gas.
Shale gas a tough sell in environment-proud Quebec (The Globe and Mail, 10/03/10)
Four years ago, shale gas wasn’t even in the Quebec government’s carefully crafted 10-year energy plan. After dozens of pages dedicated to hydro electricity, a small section spoke of the need “to diversify Quebec’s natural gas sources.” Now those plans are being redrafted on the fly. Gas prospectors have ramped up exploration drilling, but the province has not kept pace – lacking even the laws to regulate and tax the industry. It has convened a quick environmental review and promised new legislation for spring 2011. Premier Jean Charest’s government has left it to André Caillé, an energy executive once hailed as a hero in the province, to sell the new energy industry with his credibility and charm. It hasn’t exactly gone as planned.
Regulator: Mackenzie pipeline decision delayed (Reuters, 09/30/10)
A final decision on whether the C$16.2 billion ($15.7 billion) Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline in Canada’s Far North can go ahead has been postponed for a month or more, the National Energy Board said Sept. 30, another delay in a project already years behind schedule.  The board is still waiting for the federal government to respond to a report from the Joint Review Panel that examined the line’s impact on the environment and the communities along the pipeline’s route. The JRP’s report and the government’s response will be part of the regulator’s final report on the line, and it will take the energy board more time to finalize the decision once all the needed information is in hand.
Renewable energy: Ontario’s new Gold Rush (National Geographic Daily News, 09/30/10)
Since October 2009, Ontario’s government has agreed to buy energy from renewable sources at a price that all but guarantees a profit. Some installers have claimed small projects could get hefty returns of 20 percent or more, paying back costs in about five years with pure annual profits of at least $4,000 (Canadian) for the rest of a 20-year contract. In a flash, the province became a North American hotbed for investment in renewable energy, second only to California. Related article: B.C. launches power program to take on Ontario.

Higher ethanol content in petrol could force one in three motorists to switch fuels next year (Helsingin Sanomat, 10/05/10)
The composition of the most popular motor fuel in Finland, 95 E, is changing from the beginning of next year. The proportion of ethanol will increase to up to ten percent. Currently 95 E can contain no more than five percent ethanol. The rest of the mixture is ordinary petrol manufactured from crude oil. The newer 95E with its higher alcohol content should reduce total carbon dioxide emissions from transport.  However, it is not suitable for every car engine. As many as one third of those who are now filling up with 95 E may have to switch over to the slightly more expensive 98 E.

New ‘Strategy Council’ for oil fund (Views and News from Norway, 10/05/10)
Norway’s new state budget includes funding for a new “Strategy Council” to guide investments made by the country’s huge Government Pension Fund Global, more commonly known as the oil fund. The oil fund, which continues to grow at a rapid rate, aims to set aside Norway’s oil revenues for future generations. The fund has ethical guidelines, and has been known for selling off stock in companies that Norwegian officials feel violate certain ethical standards. The council will have four external members who have been asked to write a report on the long-term investment strategy by Dec. 1.
Norway depends on new power grid (The Norway Post, 10/04/10)
Statnett has presented its 2010 Grid Development Plan, and is proposing to invest a total of NOK 40 billion in developing and upgrading a new power grid in Norway in the period leading up to 2020. “In the last 15 years we have experienced increasing use of the existing power grid,” says Auke Lont, President and CEO of Statnett. “To be able to meet a continuously increasing need for grid capacity, we now have to either construct a new power grid or upgrade the current grid from 300 kV to 420 kV.” The largest investments will have to be made in Northern and Central Norway.
CO2 technology centre opened (The Norway Post, 10/03/10)
The Administration Complex of Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) opened in Nord-Hordaland, Western Norway, as the world’s largest facility for testing and improving CO2 capture technologies. Technology Centre Mongstad will be 63.000 square meters and can capture 100.000 tons of CO2/year. TCM will test two technologies that are currently available, the amine-based (Aker Clean Carbon) and the chilled ammonia-based (Alstom) technologies.

U.S. and Iceland sign bilateral agreement to develop clean geothermal energy (The Reykjavik Grapevine, 10/06/10)
The U.S. embassy announced a new partnership with the Icelandic government in the development of geothermal energy. According to a press release, “The new agreement, entitled ‘Scientific and Technological Cooperation on Geothermal Research and Development,’ was established cooperatively by the U.S. Department of Energy and Iceland’s Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism. It is designed to allow an exchange of researchers, joint projects, and education initiatives to accelerate advanced geothermal development and to identify key obstacles to increasing the use of this renewable energy resource.”
U.S. establishes new offshore guidelines; Canada calls for information on drilling (The Calgary Herald, 10/01/10)
The Obama administration unveiled regulations Sept. 30 aimed at permanently reshaping the U.S. offshore drilling industry following the BP oil spill, but kept its deepwater drilling ban in place, for now. In Canada, the National Energy Board issued a call for information as part of its own off -shore drilling review in the Arctic, but said the request wasn’t directly linked to developments south of the border. Related article: U.S. issues new rules on offshore drilling.
Russian licenses to shelf projects (BarentsObserver, 10/04/10)
The two state-controlled companies Gazprom and Rosneft have submitted 43 bids for offshore field licenses, among them to the Yuzhno-Russkoye field in the Barents Sea. Of the 45 licenses granted so far, Rosneft has received 11 licenses; Gazprom, nine; Lukoil, six; and five on production sharing agreements in the Sakhalin region.
Graphic: Oil fields in the Nenets Autonomous Area (RIA Novosti, 10/01/10)
These are the first strategic oil fields, with more than 70 million tons in reserves, to be put up for sale since the amendment of the law on mineral resources in 2008.
UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)
Russia gives 35 mill EUR to Arctic research missions (BarentsObserver, 10/04/10)
Russia continues to explore the sea bed in the Arctic in order to find the country’s outer shelf border. 1.5 billion rubles have been allocated to two scientific expeditions in 2010-2011, says Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov. Russia plans to submit a new application to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. If Russia can prove that the underwater Arctic ridges Lomonosov and Mendeleyev are geological continuations of the Russian continental shelf, the country will get the right to exploit the enormous oil and gas fields in the triangle Chukotka-Murmansk-North Pole.
Editorial: U.S. is poles apart (Toledo Blade, 10/03/10)
Given the controversy surrounding the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico this year, you’d think the Obama Administration would be paying close attention to the Arctic’s resources. It isn’t. The first step would be to ratify the Law of the Sea convention. A second step would be to send more senior-level representatives to meetings such as the September Moscow conference. As of now, though, the United States is not even playing catch-up on this vital issue.
North Pacific ‘overcrowded’ with salmon as population soars (Anchorage Daily News, 10/05/10)
Adult hatchery salmon now account for at least 20 percent of the total adult salmon production and continue to rise. For some salmon, the percentage is significantly higher. In Asia, 76 percent of all adult chum salmon from 1990 to 2005 came from salmon hatcheries. Unless international agreements are developed to manage production levels, hatchery fish may dominate the ocean, said Prof. Peterman of Simon Fraser University.
Higher quotas for Norwegian and Russian fishermen (BarentsObserver, 10/05/10)
The Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission has decided to increase the quotas on all the main species in the Barents Sea. The Norwegian Minister of Fisheries calls the quota level a “historical high”. The quotas on North-East Arctic cod in the Barents Sea in 2011 will be 16 percent higher than in 2010 and amount to 703 000 tons. The total quota on haddock will be 25 percent higher than last year, while the quota on capelin will be 5.5 percent higher, according to the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs’ Web site.
Climate Change
How a 2-degree climate change would hit Canada (CBC News, 10/05/10)
Ongoing climate change means that summer Arctic sea ice could be halved, runoff in the South Saskatchewan River basin reduced and the cost of shipping through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway could rise due to lower water levels, according to a recently published compilation of research. Billed as the first comprehensive illustration of expected climate impacts in Canada, the report is a joint project of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS), which publishes Canadian Geographic and Géographica magazines. Related article: Study seeks silver lining in climate change’s clouds.
Water cycle seems out of whack, experts find (MSNBC, 10/04/10)
Researchers who set out to create a baseline for future research on water cycle trends reported an alarming discovery: 18 percent more water was fed into the oceans from rivers and melting polar ice sheets in 2006 than in 1994. The experts suspect that the evaporation and precipitation cycle of water is accelerating dangerously because of greenhouse gas-fueled higher temperatures. The experts cautioned, however, that 13 years is a relatively short time frame and that longer-term studies are under way.
Climate change causes overhaul of wildfire strategy (The Vancouver Sun, 10/02/10)
British Columbia Forest Minister Pat Bell has introduced an overhaul of the province’s wildfire strategy to take into account the increasing frequency and intensity of forest fires brought about by climate change. The Wildfire Management Strategy notes that “record” fire years as measured by area destroyed are coming with increasing frequency. Climate models predict more of the same as temperatures rise in the north and interior of the province and there is some evidence that measurable climate change is already here.
Searching for dense water cascades in the Arctic Ocean (ScienceDaily, 10/02/10)
The Arctic is one of the most sensitive regions of the planet to the effects of global climate change. The RV Jan Mayen research cruise is aimed at studying the phenomenon of dense water cascading and its relationship with climate change in an area to the west of the Svalbard Islands in the Arctic Circle. The initiative is part of the HERMIONE project (Hotspot Ecosystem Research and Man’s Impact on European Seas), organized under the Seventh EU Framework Programme, which analyses deep-sea ecosystems and the impact of human activity on the ocean floor.
As Arctic sea ice melt season ends, sharp downward trend continues (Reuters, 10/01/10)
After a false alarm earlier this month, the 2010 Arctic sea ice melt season has come to a close, with sea ice extent reaching the third-lowest in the satellite record. This continues the steady and steep decline in sea ice cover during the past few decades, which scientists have traced mainly to emissions of greenhouse gases, as well as natural climate variability. Underscoring the rapid changes sweeping the Arctic, both the Northwest and Northeast Passages were open for a time, and two sailboats set new records for transiting both of them in just one season – a feat that would have been impossible throughout modern history.
Arctic Security
Russia’s nuclear subs to continue Arctic navigation (RIA Novosti, 10/01/10)
Russia’s nuclear-power submarines will continue under-ice navigation in the Arctic, a senior Navy official said. “Russia’s nuclear-powered submarines will maintain an operative regime in the Arctic waters to ensure security.” Russia’s military presence in the Arctic is crucial to the “implementation of the country’s foreign policy priorities,” he said. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told a recent international conference in Moscow that the Arctic would not become a battleground as potential territory disputes could be resolved through negotiation. Related article: Russia increases combat capabilities in Arctic.
 From the Telegraph wires

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