After a week of meetings in Portland, Arctic officials have put the final touches on an agreement to collaborate on research.
Penelope Overton, Portland Press Herald, 8 October 2016
The Arctic Council is preparing a treaty to be signed in the spring to promote scientific cooperation among the eight Arctic nations, a move that would benefit Maine scientists who need access to Russian territory and research for their work on topics ranging from climate change to how oil changes when it’s exposed to severe cold.
David Balton, the United States’ ambassador to the council and the chairman of the council’s senior Arctic officials, hailed it as a groundbreaking agreement. The officials have been meeting all week in Portland to discuss policy issues that affect Arctic nations.
“We are trying to allow Arctic science to be science without borders,” Balton said Friday, the final day of the conference. “Not all science proceeds as smoothly in the Arctic as we might like yet. There are restrictions, particularly in Russia, about entry and exit of scientists from other nations, and their material and data. With this, all the nations in the Arctic will allow much more freedom to conduct science.”
A Soviet-era SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile is set to crash in Canada’s Arctic, with some highly toxic fuel on board.
Michael Byers, National Post, 19 May 2016
The missile, modified to boost a satellite into orbit, will be launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia in early June. Minutes later, the first stage of the missile will plummet into the Barents Sea north of Norway. Shortly thereafter, the second stage of the missile will fall into Baffin Bay, just east of Canada’s Ellesmere Island.
That second stage could have hundreds of litres of leftover fuel on board. Rockets used for satellite launches rarely consume all their fuel because they are shut down by onboard computers once the desired speed and altitude are achieved.
The fuel used to power SS-19s is unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (hydrazine). A stable compound used to fuel missiles and power the thrusters used for manoeuvring satellites in space, hydrazine is so toxic that technicians wear pressurized hazmat suits when working with it. On contact with air, hydrazine degrades into another, even more toxic compound: nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
Steven Lee Myers & Clifford Krauss, New York Times, 7 September 2015
TERIBERKA, Russia — The warming Arctic should already have transformed this impoverished fishing village on the coast of the Barents Sea.
The Kremlin spent billions in the last decade in hopes of turning it into a northern hub of its energy powerhouse, Gazprom. It was once the most ambitious project planned in the Arctic Ocean, but now there is little to show for it aside from a shuttered headquarters and an enormous gravel road carved out of the windblown coastline like a scar.
“There are plans,” said Viktor A. Turchaninov, the village’s mayor, “but the facts — the realities of life — suggest the opposite.”
McKenzie Funk, New York Times Magazine, December 30, 2014
In 2005, Royal Dutch Shell, then the fourth-largest company on Earth, bought a drill rig that was both tall, rising almost 250 feet above the waterline, and unusually round. The hull of the Kulluk, as the rig was called, was made of 1.5-inch-thick steel and rounded to better prevent its being crushed. A 12-point anchor system could keep it locked in place above an oil well for a full day in 18-foot seas or in moving sea ice that was four feet thick. Its drill bit, dropped from a 160-foot derrick, could plunge 600 feet into the sea, then bore another 20,000 feet into the seabed, where it could verify the existence of oil deposits that were otherwise a geologist’s best guess. It had a sauna. It could go (in theory) where few other rigs could go, helping Shell find oil that (in theory) few other oil companies could find. ...
Why it's misleading for PM to imply international law will put the Arctic landmark on Canada's map.
Michael Byers, TheTyee.ca , 24 December 2013
Santa Claus is magic. How else could he live at the North Pole, above 4000 metres of frigid water?
The North Pole, indeed, is located near the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Covered by drifting sea-ice, pummeled by high winds, it receives no sunlight for several months a year and is regularly exposed to temperatures of minus 50 degrees.
Arctic oil spill response agreement weakened by conflicting interests
Michael Byers & Mark Stoller
Arctic oil spills are a growing concern, but who will act to prevent and prepare for them? The Arctic Ocean coastal states are torn between their economic interests in developing offshore oil, and increasing public pressure for meaningful environmental protection. They recently opted for symbolism over substance by adopting an Arctic Oil Spill Response Agreement that adds little to international law. ...
For the rest of the text, see the European Union's Arctic Portal .
With climate change opening up the Arctic, a pact regulating commercial fishing in the region is urgently needed.
Michael Byers, AlJazeera.com, 3 September 2013
The Antarctic is a continent surrounded by oceans. The Arctic, in contrast, is an ocean surrounded by continents. The relatively shallow, increasingly ice-free waters of the Arctic Ocean constitute the last unexploited fishery on Earth.
Though China does not have jurisdiction in the Arctic Ocean, it aims to be the power behind drilling for Arctic oil.
Michael Byers, AlJazeera.com, 22 August 2013
The Arctic may contain 10-15 percent of the world's undiscovered oil reserves, with most of that oil located in the seabed of the Arctic Ocean. And China, thanks to its financial rather than military strength, could take the lion's share.
The North Pole stands to become a viable international shipping route for some vessels in coming decades, as melting ice clears the way for cargo movement through corridors never before considered possible.