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.”
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna needs to engage personally
This illustration, from the website of the Canadian Space Agency, shows the kind of weather forecasting that the Polar Communication and Weather mission project could have provided through two new satellites that would orbit the earth around the circumpolar north. But now that Environment Canada has withdrawn from the project, it seems likely that the new satellites will be used for military purposes only, and with no guaranteed bandwidth for northern telecommunication customers. (CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY IMAGE)
Michael Byers, Special to Nunatsiaq News, 18 July 2016
On Oct. 6, 2011, the Arctic was cut off from the rest of Canada for 16 hours.
A software glitch on a satellite caused 56 communities to lose internet and long-distance telephone service. Businesses and government offices shut down; dozens of flights were cancelled.
The outage was not a surprise. Arctic communications are currently provided from satellites in geostationary orbit, directly above the equator — at the limits, and sometimes beyond, the required direct line of sight. Connectivity is slow, expensive and unreliable.
The Harper government responded to the outage by supporting a bold and visionary plan that the Canadian Space Agency, Environment Canada and Department of National Defence had jointly developed.
Reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane and black carbon, alongside carbon dioxide could help reduce the warming of the Arctic by up to 0.25 degrees by 2050, says a new report by the Arctic Council.
By Sara Jerving, Katie Jennings, Masako Melissa Hirsch and Susanne Rust
Los Angeles Times, 9 October 2015
Back in 1990, as the debate over climate change was heating up, a dissident shareholder petitioned the board of Exxon, one of the world’s largest oil companies, imploring it to develop a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from its production plants and facilities.
The board’s response: Exxon had studied the science of global warming and concluded it was too murky to warrant action. The company’s “examination of the issue supports the conclusions that the facts today and the projection of future effects are very unclear.”
Yet in the far northern regions of Canada’s Arctic frontier, researchers and engineers at Exxon and Imperial Oil were quietly incorporating climate change projections into the company’s planning and closely studying how to adapt the company’s Arctic operations to a warming planet.
Tucked a mountain on a remote Arctic island, beneath several hundred feet of rock and a near-constant blanket of snow, two imposing steel doors lock out the wind and bitter cold. Behind them, a long tunnel leads to a series of quiet, concrete rooms. Austere fluorescent bulbs illuminate thousands of black boxes crowded upon row after row of shelves, each box packed to the brim with dozens of heat-sealed silver packets.
In each packet is a handful of sleeping seeds — the last-resort guarantors of the future of our food.
ABOARD THE COAST GUARD CUTTER HEALY, IN THE ARCTIC–
When you plow into a 4-foot-thick chunk of sea ice at 3 knots, even in a 16,000-ton state-of-the-art icebreaker like the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy, it’s hard not to notice. The whole ship shudders and seems to lurch sideways. Metal cabinets rattle. Californians swear it sounds and feels just like an earthquake, with deep rumbling booms and tremors. Others say it’s like hitting turbulence on a jetliner, the shivering and rattling accompanied by the overdrive whine of 30,000 horsepower. If you’re down in the galley, right on the waterline, what you hear is the nerve-wracking scraping of shattered ice along the side. Five stories up, on top of the bridge, you feel the bump of the collision over the strain of the engines pushing the ship through a sea of drifting white, blue, and dirty gray ice.
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.
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.
Arctic research agreement contains 'excessively restrictive' language
CBC News, 15 February 2013
The Canadian government is requiring foreign researchers who collaborate with federal scientists to sign agreements that could potentially muzzle them, a U.S. scientist says.
Andreas Muenchow, a physical oceanographer at the University of Delaware, collaborates with Canadian government scientists on Arctic research. On his blog last week, he posted his concerns about the new language in a research agreement that the Canadian government is asking him to sign.
"I believe this is a disturbing political climate change," Muenchow wrote. "I feel that it threatens my academic freedom and potentially muzzles my ability to publish data and interpretation and talk timely on science issues of potential public interest without government interference."