The Arctic This Week: 11 May 2013 – 17 May 2013

The Arctic This Week 2013:19

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Thanks for joining us this week! We hope you find TATW useful and fun to read. If you find TATW valuable, please spread the word.

If you haven’t yet done so, you might want to give our PDF version a try. It’s easy to navigate directly to the sections you’re interested in, and this week’s edition is illustrated with beautiful photos from Céline Clanet’s gorgeous “Máze” series, photographed in Norwegian Lapland over the past few years.

As always, all editorial choices, opinions and any mistakes are the authors’ own. To comment, to point out an error or to request a back issue, feel free to contact Tom, Kevin or Maura directly.

Reads of the Week

The Arctic Council meeting in Kiruna and its various satellites justly occupied much of this week’s news. In our estimation, the best reads to emerge from the swirl of headlines are the following.

Begin with outgoing chair of the Arctic Council Carl Bildt, whose opinion piece in the New York Times – Why the Arctic Council Matters – is an argument both heartfelt and logical for the value of the forum in today’s world. Follow with the best of many available introductions to the incoming chair, Leona Aglukkaq, from Maclean’s in Canada.

For conference wrap-ups, we’ve chosen two in particular. In her blog post for Foreign Policy, Mia Bennett shows a talent for surgically extracting the need-to-know from the gab. And the historian in you – we assume there is one – will love Andrew Stuhl’s piece for Active History, which helps to jog our memories as to the context in which this transition takes place.

Volumes and volumes of new environmental & scientific research emerged simultaneously with the AC meeting, and here we will simply offer you the links to what seem to be the three key (or at least best-publicized) elements: the new Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, the Arctic Resilience Interim Report, and the new report from the Ecosystem-Based Management Experts’ Group. But if you find that overwhelming – and one could not fault you for that – divert yourself instead with a breathless article from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. It covers the absolute clouds of migrating birds of every description that are descending on Fairbanks this year for reasons unknown. Local birders cannot stop enthusing about it.

Lastly we turn to two noteworthy pieces on the industry side. You’ll enjoy a thankfully brief piece from Gary Clark, who sheds some light on the different investment strategies of India and China in Canada’s energy sector in Petroleum News. Nor will you want to overlook a detailed, well written and thoroughly researched Greenpeace Investor Report that spells out the complex risks that international oil companies face in partnering with Russian state-owned firms Gazprom and Rosneft in order to get access to the Russian Arctic shelf. A full text of the Investor Report can be found here.

If you find that you’re interested in The Arctic Institute’s take on the week’s proceedings, you can read our own writing on the US National Arctic Strategy, on the Arctic Council’s decisions on observers, and on Canada’s vision for the Arctic Council.

The Political Scene

The Arctic Council held its Ministerial Meeting on Wednesday in Kiruna, Sweden this week (click here for a photo gallery of the meeting compiled by the Barents Observer). Have you had it with news of the Arctic Council? Debating not reading this section? Maybe Carl Bildt’s article in the New York Times on why the Arctic Council matters will have you marching to a different tune. Bildt, whose country is now officially relieved of its duties as Chair, calls the Council “an important example of diplomacy ahead of the curve.”

Arctic News Map
So, after months of speculation, the results are in. The Arctic Council has admitted six new permanent observers (BO, the Economist, New York Times, Washington Post).  Five of the six - China, India, Japan, Singapore, and the Republic of Korea - are Asian nations.  Italy was the only European country in the bunch. Of the new group, predictably, China (The Diplomat, Reuters, Bloomberg, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, EU Observer, Xinhua, Aftenposten) and India (The Hindu, Pakistan Kakhudahafiz, Deutsche Welle) received the most attention. The applications of the seven NGOs who applied were rejected, and the European Union’s bid for membership was “received affirmatively,” although the Council deferred a final decision on implementation until the Council’s concerns regarding the EU’s (in-)famous seal ban are resolved. The European Commission put a positive spin on the outcome, stating it “welcomes the Arctic Council’s decision” and “looks forward to stepping up its engagement” in the Arctic. The Kiruna Declaration (PDF), adopted at the Ministerial Meeting, maintains that the EU may observe Arctic Council proceedings until the Council makes a final decision on implementation. While the Heritage Foundation’s blog the Foundry considered the Council’s decision to “reject” the EU “a boost for sovereignty and democracy,” the likely explanation for the lack of consensus on admitting the EU is concern, namely from Canada (NN), that the EU lacks an understanding of Arctic, and especially Indigenous, issues.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide expressed relief that the Arctic states were able to reach consensus on the new permanent observers, hailing the decision as a “breakthrough” that will elevate the political and diplomatic clout of the Arctic Council (BO). These sentiments were echoed by Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs Villy Søvndal, who said, “after this meeting we can proudly state that we have an Arctic Council at its best” (Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs). cross-posted an article from Kommersant, a Russian online daily, which maintained that although the “long and emotionally intense negotiations” resulted in membership for the newly admitted countries, they will have “virtually no voice whatsoever” when it comes to Arctic policy. This may be an overstatement, but chatter about the impact of China’s admittance may also be exaggerated. An article in Geopolitics & Security warns, “to obsess about China and its interests is to miss a broader point that a second,” decidedly Asian “generation of observers has been admitted.” Part of the first, largely European generation of observers, the United Kingdom’s “entanglement with the Arctic” is the topic of a new paper in the Polar Journal, entitled “Assembling a (British) Arctic.”

Although one takeaway from the ministerial was the inclusivity of the Arctic Council, Greenland’s premier Aleqa Hammond boycotted the meeting (, in Danish). Hammond maintained that Greenland – an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark – should have its own voting seat at the Council, even though Denmark, not Greenland, is a signatory to the declaration that established the Arctic Council in 1996. Her decision, which Demokraatit Party chairman Jens B. Frederiksen considered “bad taste,” has received significant criticism from the Greenlandic public, 65 percent of whom are said to disagree with the boycott (NN). Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s minister for the Arctic Council, considered the boycott “a domestic issue,” (NN) but said she planned to contact Hammond, because as the only Arctic country where indigenous Arctic peoples make up the majority of the population (, in Danish), having indigenous peoples’ input is crucial to the workings of the Arctic council (BO).

Inuit leaders applauded Canada’s decision to choose Leona Aglukkaq to lead the Arctic Council, making her “the first Inuk ever” to hold the esteemed position (CBC, NN, G&M, Maclean’s). Looking inward as well as outward, Aglukkaq maintained that Canada’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council would present an opportunity to focus on domestic economic development and infrastructure in the North (NN). Stressing that “the Arctic Council was formed by Northerners, for Northerners, long before the region was of interest to the rest of the world” (G&M), Aglukkaq maintained that Canada supported the Council’s decision to block the EU’s application for permanent observer status until Council members’ concerns (namely, the European Parliament’s 2011 seal ban), could be resolved (NN). Inuit leaders, in a statement released jointly with Greenpeace – whose application for observer status was denied by the Council on Wednesday (Deutsche Welle) – called for a moratorium on Arctic resource development to protect the Arctic environment (EOTA). Notably, however, the declaration lacked the support of the most prominent Inuit organizations. Terry Audla, president of Canada’s national Inuit organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, came out against the declaration, saying “[w]e collectively reject Greenpeace’s questionable use of the Indigenous voice as a front for its own campaign” (EOTA, ITK).

Although far from advocating a moratorium on resource development, environmental issues were posed as a key challenge by the Council’s ministers. A clever piece from CBC News listed “the most important issues on the Arctic table at the moment, from A to F,” with environment-related concerns dominating five out of the six issues named. The High North’s vulnerability to oil spills was clearly a main point of discussion (EurekAlert!), since the main agreement to come out of the meeting was on “Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response.” An Arctic Council press release expressed confidence with the new, legally binding arrangement, which “will substantially improve procedures for combatting oil spills in the Arctic.”

The official passing of the torch on to Canada has not put a stop to speculation, be it from environmentalists (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), political commentators (the Toronto Star) or drillers and shippers (Michael Byers), surrounding the country’s approach to chairmanship and regional leadership (see the House of Common’s Agenda for Regional Leadership, PDF). The Globe & Mail, on the other hand, maintains that Canada has ushered in “a new era.” An absolutely fascinating piece by Andrew Stuhl argues that although “observers are referring to Canada’s chairmanship as presiding over a moment or opportunity that is unprecedented,” using “unprecedented” is a tool for separating the present from the past – and it’s uncertain if the Arctic is at a turning point or not (

Following last week’s introduction of the National Strategy for the Arctic Region (PDF), which has been dubbed a “lengthy wish list” (TAI’s Mihaela David quoted in the Washington Post), the U.S. role in the Arctic was a popular topic for discussion (AD) as Secretary of State John Kerry headed to Sweden (US Dept. of State, BBC, click here to watch his remarks with Foreign Ministers Bildt and Lavrov). Showing sensitivity to Indigenous issues by meeting with Alaskan members of the Indigenous Permanent Representatives to the Arctic Council, Secretary Kerry’s visit reinforced Canadian support for the U.S. Strategy, which John Higginbotham said will “give substance to Canada’s Arctic Council role” (Toronto Star). Space was also carved out between meetings, according to ITAR-TASS, for Kerry to speak to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about arrangements for an international conference on the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Looking ahead to the U.S. chairmanship of the Council in 2015, Lesil McGuire and Bob Herron, Chairs of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission, have proposed that the Secretary of State be named as Chair (AD). They argue that this “would represent the higher level of commitment we are expecting from the Obama Administration,” as would the appointment of an Arctic Ambassador, which the Co-Chairs also support. Senator Lisa Murkowski, an ever-present American voice in Arctic affairs, also attended the ministerial meeting, issuing a press release – “North to the Future Means Now” – supporting the Arctic Council as a forum for ensuring “that America is not standing on the sidelines as Arctic policies move forward.”

Alaska’s governor, Sean Parnell, said he was supportive of a greater U.S. role in Arctic leadership and generally receptive to the U.S. Arctic Strategy, even if it lacks “concrete commitments” (ABM). If you’re hungry for more analysis of the new U.S. Arctic Strategy, Mia Bennett wrote a short and sweet piece for Foreign Policy Blogs, and Jill Burke offers an Alaskan perspective in Eye on the Arctic. Additional commentary is also available from the Christian Science Monitor and the Hill, and the Alaska Wilderness League in particular has come out against the strategy’s pro-drilling stance.

Kiruna was also home to the Kiruna Indigenous Peoples Conference on May 14, which featured presentations from Indigenous groups, Arctic experts, and the executive director of Greenpeace. Later this month, there will be a roundtable discussion at the University of Washington on “International Relations in the Arctic: Legal Frameworks & Indigenous Shaping of the Arctic Council” on Thursday, May 30, and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is hosting the Barents Summit 2013 in Kirkenes, Norway June 3-4.

In news not directly related to the Arctic Council, the Sami parliamentary election in Sweden took place on Sunday the 19th (EOTA), and changes to the Nunavut Integrity act will make it more difficult for senior civil servants in Nunavut to report allegedly dishonest political behavior (APTN). Click here for the Nunavut’s Integrity Commissioner’s Annual Report. In Labrador’s federal by-election on Monday, May 13, Yvonne Jones defeated Conservative Peter Penashue, with 48 percent of the vote compared to Penashue’s 33 (CBC). Inuit leader Terry Audla issued a press release in support of her victory (ITK). Finally, substantial headway still needs to be made on the Northwest Territories Devolution Agreement (signed in March of this year), before the devolution is actually finalized (the Northern Journal).


The Arctic Council meeting this week in Kiruna, Sweden, focused attention on oil spill response and indigenous communities’ responses to increased Arctic energy development. The Arctic Council signed the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic, a binding agreement on all members regarding oil spill mitigation in the Arctic (BO, with the full agreement here). Several Arctic indigenous communities called on the council to implement an Arctic energy development moratorium in a signed statement which they released this week (EOTA). A full text of the group’s declaration is available here. The statement was released as part of an indigenous forum that sought to apply pressure on the Council: the Kiruna People’s Arctic conference, sponsored by Greenpeace, warned Arctic indigenous communities to beware of oil companies and stand together to face pressure from industry (NN). Some Canadian Inuit leaders have come out to emphasize that they are not party to the declaration (NN), and one dismissed it out of hand, saying it was “Greenpeace and Bill Erasmus [of Canada’s Dene Nation] trying to get some air time” (CBC).


Gazprom Neft has finally begun producing oil from the Novoportovskoye field in the Yamal Peninsula. The tortuous route the oil must take to market highlights the infrastructure challenges that still face development of oil and gas fields in Yamal: the 10,000 tons of oil extracted were trucked 200 km over ice roads, then loaded onto railcars for the continued trip south (BO). Gazprom also announced that its feasibility study for the Yamal-Europe 2 pipeline would be completed by the end of the year (Belarusian Telegraph Agency). Novatek confirmed that it plans to have its Yamal LNG project producing by 2016, assuming that Moscow will do away with Gazprom’s current gas export monopoly and open the way for Novatek to sell Yamal LNG abroad (OGE). Getting Russian gas to Asian markets will not be cheap: Gazprom’s proposed pipeline from Eastern Siberia to Asia will cost a whopping  USD 46.12 billion, or just about USD 8 million per kilometer (RusEnergy). And, in another effort to feed Asia, Gazprom announced it was ready to offer foreign investors up to a 50% share in a proposed LNG plant to be built near Vladivostok (RIAN). Gazprom is actually up for an official audit, though it doesn’t seem that anyone at Gazprom is too anxious about the outcome (MT).

Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin announced his company would begin opening up some of its Arctic licenses to BP, which owns a 20% stake in Rosneft and which has sought to partner with the Russian company to access exploration licenses (World Oil, Fox). Meanwhile, Rosneft and ExxonMobil are teaming up on … an art exhibit? The two oil majors are hosting an exhibit, entitled "Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes" at the National Gallery in Washington, DC (press release). So THIS is what western companies have to do to get a piece of the action on Russia’s Arctic shelf!

While international energy majors are rushing to partner with Gazprom and Rosneft to access the Russian Arctic, Greenpeace released an extremely well-researched and reasoned investor’s report that highlights some of the significant risks that oil companies and investors face in partnering with Moscow. The report highlights the lack of offshore experience in the Russian energy sector, a dismal environmental record, a total disregard for safety rules, a lack of transparency, and the political challenge of staying in the Kremlin’s favor as serious risks that that should concern shareholders. A full copy of the report can be accessed here.

It’s not news that Russia is looking to the Arctic to help replace declining production at legacy fields, but this article by Jamie Scudder does a good job of describing the challenges Russian companies (only state-owned companies are allowed to own majority shares in licenses on Russia’s Arctic shelf) face in developing their Arctic fields (NGE).


Claudia Cattaneo explores the ongoing conversation between industry, environmental groups and First Nations over Arctic oil exploration, with a particular focus on the issue of oil spill mitigation in Arctic environments (Financial Post). Another good read by Cattaneo this week explores how industry is taking advantage of the Arctic Council meeting and increased interest in Arctic oil-spill response to trumpet its Joint Industry Program, a collaborative research effort between 9 international oil companies that focuses on developing Arctic-specific oil spill mitigation technologies. Cattaneo explores Canadian connections to this effort in this article in the Vancouver Sun.

Northwest Territories industry minister David Ramsey is reviving discussion of a pipeline to carry Alberta oil to Valdez, Alaska, for export to Asia. With Keystone stalled and pipelines to British Columbia facing opposition from First Nations groups, Ramsey’s plan would provide an outlet to the sea, while also passing by the Canol Shale, NWT’s new tight oil play (PN). Ramsay says that local communities and indigenous groups are already on board and the project shouldn’t see widespread opposition from the Territories (CTV). But is it viable? Karl Gotthardt is skeptical, expressing some of his doubts in an editorial for Digital Journal. There may be life yet in the proposed BC pipeline thanks to a surprise victory of incumbent Liberal Premier Christy Clark over her New Democratic Party Challenger. Clark has placed significant stipulations on any pipeline that will cross BC that have complicated the project’s progress, but industry prefers dealing with the Liberal government over the NDP, who promised to tank the project, as well as raise the province’s carbon tax and ban hydraulic fracturing (PN).

Seems like every few weeks I come across an article which gives voice to “Norway envy.” This week, it was Canada’s turn, with Esther Hsieh, writing for the Globe and Mail, comparing Norway’s wise stewardship over its natural resources with Canada’s market-driven system.

Locals from Clyde River, Nunavut, have expressed their opposition to seismic surveying in a letter to the National Energy Board (CBC).

An interesting article by Gary Park in Petroleum News looks at the difference in investment strategy between India and China in Canada’s energy sector, and why it is that India has yet to commit significant investment there to develop oil supplies.


The policies of Greenland’s new government towards extractive industries continue to evolve more than two months after elections brought the Siumut Party to power. There were early indications that Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond would seek to limit oil and gas exploration, though this week the Minister of Industry said that new exploration licenses would be handed out as existing licenses expire and are turned in (Rigzone).


The European Parliament’s industry committee has rejected a proposed moratorium on Arctic oil and gas exploration, though environmental groups are crying foul as they say key votes came from parliamentarians who had accepted expenses-paid trips from oil companies to visit remote oil platforms (Guardian). Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has also come under criticism for not pushing for an Arctic oil and gas moratorium during his country’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council (AD, Radio Sweden).

Industry, meanwhile, is under the microscope: EU anti-trust authorities raided offices of Statoil, BP and Shell as part of a price-fixing investigation (EOTA).

Norwegian offshore workers aren’t happy with a new pay deal, even though it included a USD 1,700 raise (AB). Some complex horse-trading occurred this week regarding production licenses in Norway’s Arctic Norvarg gas field involving Statoil, Total and Det norske oljeselskap (Platts). And while some academics are saying it’s now time for the state to divest its holding in Statoil, politicians are not buying it, according to an informal poll (AB).


Representative Don Young has fired back after the Interior Department released a management plan for the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska that placed 50% of the reserve off-limits for oil and gas development. Young introduced a bill that would nullify the plan and require a new, more development-friendly one be written (FNM).

After the White House released its Arctic strategy statement this week, David Unger asks what’s next for Arctic oil and gas development in an article for the Christian Science Monitor. With many major oil companies taking a pause in their exploration of Alaska’s Arctic, Unger looks at the impacts of climate change, regulation and the threat of liability on industry decision making. A perfect example of the perils that industry executives are hoping to avoid will be on display this week when the Coast Guard hosts a marine casualty investigation hearing Monday 20 May in Anchorage to explore the causes of the Kulluk grounding in December 2012 and develop lessons-learned for future operations (ANN). Even though Statoil has postponed its own exploration on its Chukchi Sea licenses until 2015, local Barrow, AK, resident Daniel J. Inulak Lum called on Statoil to rethink its strategy for working in Alaska’s Arctic (The Foreigner).

Although no specifics were offered, ConocoPhillips executives announced they will likely increase spending in Alaska to increase production after the state passed a tax decrease on oil profits last month (AD). ExxonMobil is making advances on its own North Slope investments, announcing progress on development of new facilities at Point Thompson for extracting and transporting natural gas condensate (PN).

Alex DeMarban provides good coverage of the ballooning costs of a proposed North Slope LNG project, along with a history of the various proposals to exploit the slope’s gas that have fallen by the wayside over the years (AD).

 The Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy will be hosting a webinar on Tuesday, 21 May, to discuss a report from the Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska. You can find more information, including how to remote in to the webinar, on the ACCAP website.

Science, Environment & Wildlife

Chunky science & policy documents

The volume of new research released this week in association with the ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden boggles the mind. We’ll begin with a look at the new Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, from the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, an Arctic Council Working Group. The key findings of the report are available here (these are the talking points you’ve read elsewhere), or you could watch the introductory video (it’s been out for a while, but is appropriate now). If you’re ready to tackle the full report, it has thoughtfully been broken down by the authors into its constituent parts; take your pick from many options here. And for those of you who want to skip the text and move straight to data and charts, the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service should be your first stop. Nunatsiaq News reviewed the report briefly, but also pointed out that its recommendations do not have the force of any decisive action on the Arctic Council’s part behind them. Nor will the Arctic Council be dealing directly with that overarching threat to the Arctic environment, climate change (NN).

Next in line but equally massive is the Arctic Resilience Interim Report, assembled by the Stockholm Environment Institute and Stockholm Resilience Center. As with the CAFF’s Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, the easiest entrée to the report is a brief video interview with Annika Nilsson and Sarah Cornell about the project itself. Another possibility is the summary of key findings, although the full report is available here for the stout of heart. Alaska Dispatch reminds us that the full report will be due some time in 2015, and points to the perspective that a changing Arctic is likely to present both threats and opportunities for residents.

As the third horse of this particular troika, you will want to download the full report from the Ecosystem-Based Management Experts Group, which recommends “that the Arctic
Council adopt a policy commitment to EBM” and offers nine constituent principles to support that policy commitment.

The WWF – an Observer at the Arctic Council – issued its own recommendations to the Arctic Council in advance of the ministerial meeting, cataloging several concrete steps, and Scientific American has done us all the kindness of analyzing, briefly, much of the research released at the Kiruna meeting as well as how it fits into a global political and environmental context.

In addition to reports released in association with the Arctic Council’s ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden, this week saw reaction to the US’s National Strategy for the Arctic Region from some of America’s key science and environmental players. The acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency cited some of his agency’s ongoing efforts to preserve and protect the Arctic environment, while the National Science Foundation took the opportunity to point out proudly that some of its own extensive work on Arctic science underlies the US’s new policy document. (The Guardian is less sanguine, seeing the document as a catastrophe.)

Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the US’s role as an Arctic nation and the fragility of the Arctic environment in an op-ed (HuffPo), and the Secretary used his time at the Arctic Council ministerial meeting to push his colleagues to have the courage to tackle climate change (Politico). In her turn, Frances Beinecke of the National Resources Defense Council took the opportunity to push Secretary Kerry to support a network of marine protected areas in the Arctic.

Arctic life

Before we launch into news of larger creatures, let me encourage you to explore the series of posts from Rebecca Fowler of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who is writing from Alaska’s North Slope on ongoing research on the algae that live beneath the sea ice.

Genetic tests on 98 polar bears in Canada have led to the troubling conclusion that the bears’ immune systems are not especially well prepared to deal with a diverse range of viral and bacterial infections that may accompany a warming climate (New Scientist). This week the Center for Biological Diversity sent notice to the US Department of the Interior and the US Fish and Wildlife Service announcing its intent to sue both organizations for their failure to develop a polar bear recovery plan, which seems to be (?) required of the government under the Endangered Species Act (  Meanwhile the Buffalo Zoo welcomed its newest resident, Kali, the polar bear cub brought in in Alaska after a hunter inadvertently killed his mother (FNM).

In news of the strange and tragic, it appears that the South Baffin Island caribou population has gone from an estimated 60,000-180,000 in the early 1990s to around 1,000-2,000 animals today. How or why is not discussed in this brief article from the CBC. Illegal killing of muskoxen in one area of Alaska means closure of the hunting season for 2013-2014 (KTOO). To get a better idea of what these massive animals look like, check out an amazing series of photos from Florian Schulz (National Wildlife Federation). Further south in Alaska, a program to breed a new population of wood bison highlights the simple physical challenges of providing adequate land and building strong enough fences to manage a captive population (AD).

Clouds of migrating birds of every description are descending on Fairbanks, for reasons unknown. Local birders say it’s the most dramatic concentration they’ve seen in many, many years (a delightful article from FNM). Migrating birds found in the Arctic are also, in some cases, suffering mightily due to changes in the environments they inhabit at other times during the year – for example, southeast Asia ( – in Norwegian). If you need a little charm in your life, check out Yukon Electrical’s recently erected EagleCam in Whitehorse; perhaps you’ll see the eaglet that has already hatched – two unhatched eggs remained as of this writing (CBC).

In marine wildlife, Alaska’s Iliamna Lake seals are being enlisted in the interminable-but-fascinating legal parrying around the proposed Pebble Mine project. If the seals are acknowledged as a distinct population needing legal protection, that may put a halt to development plans (AD). Narwhal meanwhile are on their way to summer grounds in Nunavut, and Isabelle Groc is chronicling an expedition to observe them. The total allowable catch of narwhal in northern Hudson Bay this summer will be 147 (CBC).

Arctic char could be negatively impacted by a proposed hydro dam serving Iqaluit (CBC), while plankton are the subject of study for 15 scientists aboard the French research schooner Tara, which set sail on 19 May (Guardian). Research on under-ice algae by scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is also chronicled (among other subjects) on the “Life in the Ice” blog, also mentioned at the start of this section.

Lastly, a miscellany of wildlife notes. Rabid foxes seem to be to blame for the spread of rabies in Cambridge Bay (NN). / Yukon has its own biodiversity database. / The WWF’s cool new interactive map of the Arctic landscape shows, among other things, the “footprints” of marine mammals and large marine ecosystems.

River breakup and weird weather

A cold spring season in the North American Arctic has meant delayed river breakup in much of Alaska and northern Canada. This week watches began and rivers began to flow, including some disastrous flooding. The Pelly River flooded, causing evacuations in the community of Ross River, Yukon (CBC). The Yukon River also overran its banks into the town of Eagle, Alaska (FNM). Breakup across Alaska is starting late (FNM), and the town of Nenana is thinking it might have a record-breaking date (later than 20 May, set 1964) (FNM). What does this all look like? Check out a time-lapse video of the Hay River breaking up in the Northwest Territories (CBC). And it doesn’t just happen in Alaska – Russia’s Yenisei River is also expected to break up shortly, and Norilsk Nickel’s Polar Transport Division is making preparations for the water at the port of Dudinka to rise up to 8 meters – that’s 26+ feet (Steel Guru).

While rivers are slowly released from winter’s grip, a late-season snowstorm has dumped huge quantities of snow on Alaska and northern Canada. Many sights in Denali National Park were closed due to a severe winter storm (FNM), and Rankin Inlet, Nunavut had 92 cm of snow dumped upon it unceremoniously in the middle of the week (CBC). Weirdly strong storms, like a famous one in 1999 that salted a huge section of the Mackenzie River Delta with seawater, may be a more frequent feature of our weather in the future (G&M).


We had all seen it coming, but this week the level of CO2 in the atmosphere exceeded the psychologically-significant 400 ppm milestone. It hasn’t been at this level regularly for millions of years (BBC). The best possible illustration of this is a slick presentation from Mother Jones – I really like it. And although Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions are at their lowest level since 1990 (EOTA), Barents Observer points out that continued growth in concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere is likely to have outsized impact in the Arctic.

Are we entering a brave new world? The Guardian certainly thinks so, and illustrates that with an intense and impressively-designed multimedia feature on Newtok, Alaska, a town which will have to relocate as the ground its on subsides into the sea. Similar territory is covered by a new video from two prominent Canadian institutions; The Land of our Future catalogs how the lives of high school students in Yellowknife, NWT are already being impacted by climate change.  And interest in this issue stretches around the world to India. The world’s second most populous country was just admitted as an observer to the Arctic Council, and Norway cited the country as a “key partner” on climate change (Business Standard).

The melting ice in the North – illustrated here in Spiegel Online (in German) by a 1,300 km rift between Greenland and Canada – appears to be causing the North Pole itself to shift and shimmy. In absolutely fascinating research, scientists demonstrate that GPS measurements clearly indicate that the geographic North Pole has been “galloping” towards Greenland over the past few years in response to loss of mass in the Greenland ice sheet (covered in Nature). I had no idea it was possible to deduce such a thing. If you’re at a university or other institution with the means to pay eye-popping subscription fees to scientific journals, you can read the whole thing in Geophysical Research Letters, or explore other new research from the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans on the interaction between wind, sea ice and ocean currents.

Despite the gloomy news above, other research from ice2sea seems to suggest that the melt of Greenland’s ice sheet may happen more slowly than currently thought (EOTA). New research scheduled for release in Science, however, indicates that Canada’s Arctic glaciers are melting at nearly twice the rate they showed in the 1960s (o.canada), and climate scientist James Hansen is at work exploring the possibility that a melting Greenland ice sheet could cool the entire North Atlantic, which “would increase a “temperature gradient” that’s conducive to stronger storms” (Bloomberg).

A new study in Nature appears to say that the net effect of a greening Arctic on carbon storage is positive. This is because Arctic tundra with more vegetation stores more carbon than its less-green alternative, despite an increased rate of decomposition in the thawed soil.  Meanwhile on Svalbard, researchers have discovered a reservoir suitable as a test-case for underground carbon capture. They may soon begin pumping CO2 into it (AB).

Other science notes

The famed PEARL research station in Arctic Canada has been rescued by a funding commitment of CAD 5 million over the next five years (CBC). This is part of a CAD 32 million 5-year funding boost overall for climate-change research announced by the government (Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council). And Cambridge Bay is also preparing for the relative hustle & bustle that will accompany the building and operation of the new Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CBC). / The Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi is working to “put a human face on the Arctic Region” with a new publication available in English, Finnish, Swedish and North Sami (imagine the translation costs!). The Centre is also exploring ways to improve environmental impact assessment standards in Finland, in the hopes that an improved process in that country can serve as a model for elsewhere, too. / The French Arctic Initiative is hosting a multi-day symposium in Paris from June 3-6 (Arctic Portal). / Check out the latest crop of new research added to the wonderful ASTIS database. / The Helsinki Climate Forum: Arctic Urgency is coming up in September of this year, and the Finnish Institute of International Affairs has set up an essay contest on the topic of the Arctic & climate change. The prize, other than recognition, is unclear to me (FIIA). / The world’s largest maars – lakes formed by explosions of steam after groundwater runs far enough down to reach magma – are on Alaska’s Seward Peninsula ( / The seabed in the Barents off the coast of northern Norway remains in relatively good condition, but recent sediment cores do show traces of human activity (MAREANO – in Norwegian). / Natural history museums from the Arctic states are working on forming a holy alliance to help communicate Arctic science to a broader public – good work! (BO) / Astronaut Chris Hadfield has been doing so much to inspire wonder by sending images from space to a waiting audience on earth. Students in Yellowknife were among the last people to get to speak to him in space during his most recent mission (CBC). / The Northern Arctic Federal University in Arkhangelsk is both cataloging Russia’s history of Arctic science and keeping that tradition alive (Russia Beyond the Headlines). / Iqaluit’s sunrise/sunset annual chart is fun to look at – thanks to Instagram user @khumbu2015. /

Military / Search-&-Rescue

The US Coast Guard is inviting industry to submit bids for a unique mission: recover the remains of US aviators buried under 40 feet of ice on Greenland’s icecap since crashing there during a 1942 rescue mission (GSN Magazine).

A bit closer to home, The Coast Guard and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, a branch of the Interior Department, have signed an agreement to better coordinate on their respective safety and environmental protection missions with regards to offshore oil development (PN). In Alaska the Coast Guard is ramping up operations for the summer shipping season, and figuring out ways to do more with less as Arctic shipping increases and sequestration looms (PN). The USCG will base Operation Arctic Shield this year out of Kotzebue, providing easier access to the Bering Strait. Increased shipping there over the previous decade has raised concerns, and with Shell cancelling activity this year in the Chukchi Sea, there was less need to base operations further north (AD). The USCG has also brought on a full-time planner to coordinate the guard’s expanding Arctic mission set (press release). Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and the Coast Guard were at pains to portray this not as a pull-back from the Arctic, though both admit that budget cuts have caused significant constraints, but a repositioning to focus limited funds and assets to where they will be most effective (KTUU). In a commentary for the Arctic Sounder, Carey Restino makes a strong case for the Coast Guard’s continued presence in Alaska’s Arctic, saying that the Coast Guard’s repositioning this year makes it look like last year’s operations in Barrow were intended only to support Shell, and not to look after the safety of the region’s residents (Arctic Sounder).

The Department of Defense will be funding a $440,000 clean-up project to gather over seven tons of debris left over from military oil exploration in the 1950s around the remote Chandler Lake on the North Slope (SF Chronicle).


NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has reiterated that NATO has no interest in bolstering its presence in the Arctic during a visit to northern Norway (The Local).

The Russian-Norwegian POMOR 2013 naval exercise ranged from the Barents to the Norwegian Sea last week as the two navies drilled on counterterrorism and salvage operations. The fleets paused on the Norwegian-Russian border to honor sailors who perished in WWII, and personnel exchanges between the fleets allowed for familiarization between the two navies (ITAR-TASS – Russian).

There’s some dispute as to whether or not a Russian military aircraft violated Finnish air space last week after the AN-26 aircraft had to modify its flight path to avoid inclement weather while flying over the Gulf of Finland (ITAR-TASS – Russian).

In the wake of the July 22, 2011, massacre on Utøya Island, Norwegian military and law enforcement took a close look at their response capabilities. A recent parliamentary report criticized the slow response of military and police forces to the event. In response, Norway will establish a special forces capability under a centralized command structure that will have a 24/7, on-call, rapid response force and responsibility for responding to incidents of terrorism, piracy and hostage taking. A satellite base of this new capability will be staged at the Navy’s Arctic base in Ramsund (Defense News).


Federal government officials are seeking information from Norway and Denmark to understand why Canada is paying up to five times more for new Arctic patrol ships than the two Nordic countries did for building remarkably similar ships in recent years (Leader-Post). Troubles with the Arctic patrol boats have brought attention to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s failure to deliver on election promises of securing Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic through increased investment (Economist).

A helicopter crash on Baffin Island left two people slightly injured last week (CBC).           

A Yellowknife dogsledder who fell through the ice on Yellowknife Bay last week was saved along with five of his seven dogs by passers-by and the Yellowknife Fire Department (CBC). The Fire Department did take some heat over the incident, though. Apparently the search and rescue team was delayed in reaching the accident site due to some confusion as to the exact location (CBC).

A record-breaking blizzard in Nunavut complicated the search for a missing Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. employee who was reported missing after failing to arrive at his work site on 14 May (NN). The missing man, Michael Pilon, was located after spending two days out in the blizzard. Pilon survived by digging a snow cave, and relatives credit his survival training for helping him get through the ordeal (CBC). Another search for a missing man in Nunavut, this time near Baker Lake, has so far not met with success. A 72-year-old man went missing when he fell off a sled being towed by his grandson’s snowmobile on May 7. As of May 13, the man had not been found, though the search continues (NN).

Another tragic incident this week focused attention on Canada’s search and rescue capabilities in the far north. Former grand chief of the Innu Nation Joseph Riche died after falling out of his canoe during a hunting trip in Labrador. The Royal Canadian Air Force was delayed in responding as all three of its helicopters at near-by Goose Bay were out for maintenance reasons and a helicopter had to be called in from a base more than 1,000 kilometers away (National Post). Incidents such as these highlight the difficulties of search and rescue in the challenging Arctic environment, which was the topic of a recent report by the Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program. The report called on northern nations to invest in strengthening search and rescue and oil-spill response capabilities in the Arctic (Reuters).



The state-owned diamond mining company Alrosa will sell a 14% stake on the Moscow Stock Exchange later this year and is expecting to raise up to USD 2 billion in the process (Reuters).


Locals in the Nunavut communities of Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord are asking that a territorial park be established to protect 50 million year old petrified forests that are threatened by exploration and potential development of underlying coal deposits (NN). Meanwhile work continues on the development of the Kiggavik uranium project. Areva Resources Canada Inc. submitted responses to questions from the Nunavut Impact Review Board regarding the project’s environmental impact statement (North of 60).

Labrador Iron Mines Holdings inked a deal with the Iron Ore Company of Canada this week, ensuring sale of all the company’s projected production in 2013 and 2014 (CMJ).

The reelection of British Columbia Premier Christy Clark is being seen as a boon to the province’s mining industry. An article in North of 60 looks back at Clark’s previous support for the mining industry, and industry’s relief that she managed to edge out a tough challenge from the New Democratic Party candidate Adrian Dix.


Greenland’s mining sector is in trouble. Forget all the news you heard about China rushing to strip the island of its rare earth minerals; experts say that any real development of Greenland’s mining sector is 20 to 25 years off (Politiken – Danish) Greenland’s only operating mine has gone into receivership, and plunging global metal prices mean the high investment costs will likely scare away any immediate development (Berlingske - Danish). Mining and Industry Minister Jens-Erik Kirkegaard is trying to keep a brave face on in spite of the dire assessments (DR – Danish). Note: Thanks to Mette Frost of the WWF in Denmark for tipping us off to this story and sharing these articles.


Sami leader Mats Berg called attention to the threat that mining poses to Arctic indigenous peoples in general and the Sami in particular during the People’s Arctic conference this week in Kiruna (BO). Berg called for more indigenous input on mining decisions in the Arctic (NN).


Goldrich mining announced that it has moved over USD 4 million worth of equipment over a 90-mile winter road to its placer-mining operation in Chandalar and is ready to start operations (FNM).

Fishing, Shipping & Other Business News


New research from Canada has looked at changes in catches of fish worldwide over the past 40 years, and discerned that species are heading North as waters warm – “[f]ishers off New England are starting to see more and more fish usually found near the tropics. The distribution of Atlantic mackerel has shifted from Norway to Iceland, creating problems in fishing regulation” (

In the American Arctic, Senator Mark Begich met with “Secretary of Fish” (Commerce, actually) nominee Penny Pritzker to discuss the importance of sound fisheries management, as well as other issues critical to Alaskans (ANN). He likewise urged Secretary of State John Kerry to keep momentum in ongoing negotiations regarding a fisheries agreement for Arctic waters (press release). The executive director of the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association wrote of her own dissatisfaction with the federal government’s inconsistent stance on whether the Bristol Bay region will or will not be opened to oil drilling; she would rather see it permanently protected for fisheries (ADN). On the other side of things, Sylvia Earle and Philip Radfor would like to see the North Pacific Fishery Management Council take action to permanently protect some of the Bering Sea’s deep canyons FROM fishing (

News of a smaller nature: Two pollock catcher-processor vessels have been slapped with USD 2 million in fines for tampering with the scales used to weigh their catches – this is no laughing matter (ADN). Cause for celebration, however, is the first shipment of Copper River salmon for this year, which arrived in Seattle last week (ABM).

And moving around the world to the North Atlantic, this week the biggest cod ever caught with rod & reel – 103 pounds / 46.5 kg and 1.8m long – was dragged up from the depths of the Barents Sea by a German sport fisherman (IceNews). Other chilled fish from Norway may soon face stricter import regulations to Russia, one of the largest export markets for Norwegian fish (BN).


Whatever your interest in Arctic shipping may be, you’ll benefit from spending some time with Arctic Portal’s wonderful Arctic Maritime and Aviation interactive map. Have fun exploring!

In the United States, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich came together in advance of the Arctic Council meeting in Kiruna to push for greater investment in, and greater freedom of development for, Alaskan ports (Murkowski’s press release, Begich’s press release). Simultaneously, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey has released new depth charts giving mariners better information for navigation of the Bering Strait (Maritime Executive), and the WWF is busily at work to influence the development of a Polar Code, which will influence the traffic in the US-Russia Bering Strait.

Russia’s Maritime Register of Shipping is introducing new rules and standards for ships to be built for operation in the Russian Arctic (World Maritime News), and a new “oblique” icebreaker that can do its work sideways, forward and backward is generating interest (AD, – in Norwegian). The first of these new ships from Aker Arctic will belong to Russia’s Ministry of Transport, I believe. Russia’s Arctic ports meanwhile are showing good growth for the Jan-Apr period 2013 over the same period 2012 (BN), and Murmansk “urban icon” the ship Klavdia Elanskaya, which runs between Murmansk and the closed settlement of Ostrovnoy, is now moored much closer to the city center (BN).

And in the Nordics, Norwegian firms are in the process of developing new remote-controlled ships that will be able to do all kinds of things that human-piloted ships can’t (Forskningsrådet – in Norwegian). Finnish shipbuilding is in a difficult spot at the moment, though, as the government announced that it would not be taking on a majority-ownership stake in STX (YLE). As usual, this week also saw the release of one article (CNN) and one video (Al Jazeera) cataloging China’s interest in shipping via the Northern Sea Route, or its relationship with Iceland, as items of interest and implicit concern.

Other business and economic news

The creation of an Arctic business forum is “[c]entral to [Leona] Aglukkaq's plans for her two-year term heading the Arctic Council” (CTV News). That idea is explored thoughtfully by Jim Bell in Nunatsiaq News. / A  major software company has just awarded an expanded contract to Thor Data Center in Iceland (IceNews). / A new casino just on the Finnish side of the Finland-Russia border should help to vacuum even more cash out of Russian tourists (BN). / Russia is making ill-defined suggestions that it will consider helping foreign investors to obtain Russian passports. How, or whom, is left unsaid (BN). / Conglomerate and Native corporation Sealaska’s revenues and income for 2012 were substantially larger than in 2011, though most of that strength was in investments rather than business lines (ABM). / Up Here Business profiles Yukon’s growing knowledge sector in a way that makes me want to pack my things, move to Whitehorse, and just assume that I’ll find some lucrative job there in a matter of hours. I have some knowledge! The central figure of that article is profiled in more depth by Eva Holland, who also offers a profile of “the Queen of Klondike Korner”. Also in this vein is an article on the competitive landscape of sushi restaurants in Whitehorse. / The high interest rates charged by Iceland’s central bank at this point are making it increasingly difficult for the country to remove capital controls established in the wake of the financial crisis (IceNews). / With serendipitous timing, the Northwest Territories offered training on 15 May for fur trappers in how to best process seal skins for maximum value (Gov’t of NWT). / A meeting of a Russian-Finnish business forum in Arkhangelsk coming up on June 18 is intended to share experience and help game-plan the development of the two countries’ northern reaches (BN). / Mini-symposia on the development of various industries in Norrbotten, Sweden will be held in Pajala and Luleå on the 20th and 21st of May (Mistra).

Health, Education, Culture & Society

Food security, a focus of the Swedish chairmanship of the Arctic Council (, in Swedish), is a Canadian concern, too. Members of Nunavut’s legislature have called for a federal audit of the Nutrition North Program (CBC), and the Government of Nunavut announced it plans to complete its food security strategy by June (NN). The Legislature has also proposed changes to Nunavut’s Liquor Act (CBC) and tabled a report urging more aggressive action to lower smoking rates in the territory (NN). The Northern Farm Training Institute - a new farming school in Hay River, Northwest Territories that focuses on home gardening as a means of achieving food security - held its first workshops during the end of April and beginning of May (the Northern Journal).

Mental health, which has been a long-standing concern for northern communities, received mention in the Kiruna Declaration. Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak praised the Declaration’s prioritization of mental health (NN), which is an even greater concern now that officials in Nunavut say sexual abuse in the territory is directly related to the high number of suicides (TVO) occurring annually in the territory (CBC). Nunavut is one step closer to combatting substance abuse, which is also connected to mental health, as it will be re-opening its drug and alcohol addictions program this summer (NN).

The Yukon Hospital Corporation, scheduled to open two new hospitals by this winter, has come under criticism for not intervening sooner in a dispute between Dowlands Contracting and its sub-contractors, who argue the contracting firm owes them more than CAD 1 million. Yukon Hospital Corporation says that it has placed the funds in trust, and that the sub-contractors will get their money once they demonstrate they have worked on the sites (CBC). In Nunavut, a new health center was opened in Repulse Bay, but the community continued to struggle with its “housing nightmare” (NN). Reaching what seems to be a solution on May 15, the Nunavut Housing Corporation announced that 210 new units would be built by 2014 (NN).

New estimates from the Institute of Migration suggest that by 2050 there may be as many Russian as Swedish speakers in Finland (YLE), and Nunavut Languages Commissioner Sandra Inutiq urged this week that more be done to preserve Inuktut and provide for its speakers (NN).


The National Arts Center’s Northern Scene festival, held in Ottawa April 25 to May 4, has been deemed an all-around success (NN). / Nominations for Canada’s Arctic Inspiration Prize, awarded to groups “who have made a substantial, demonstrated and distinguished contribution to the gathering of Arctic knowledge,” are being accepted until September 2. / Graham McDowell of the Climate Change Adaptation Research Group released a second field report, highlighting his experiences in Greenland’s Disko Bay. / Crime rates in Iqaluit this April were significantly lower than April 2012, with the Iqaluit detachment holding 51 fewer prisoners this year (NN).


Rural northern Alaska is looking at public investment of approximately USD 200 million in infrastructure projects this summer (FNM). The upgrades will doubtless be welcome in the end, but all the construction could prove to be a pain for residents in the interim. Similarly, the premiers of Canada’s three northern territories are of one mind when it comes to the need for infrastructure upgrades in the Canadian North (EOTA – in French). That can be a more difficult task even than it already appears to be – witness the abandonment of the Qikiqtani General Hospital renovation by contractor NCC-Dowland (NN). And the Deh Cho Bridge turns out to be a double-edged sword that both gives year-round access to Yellowknife and introduces, for the first time, weight restrictions on the trucks that use it (NNSO). So the bridge’s cost savings for truckers on the one hand may be offset by additional weight fees on the other.

In other infrastructure news, Icelandair inaugurated its non-stop Reykjavik to Anchorage route (!!!) on May 15, the date of the Arctic Council meeting (ABM). Ministers arriving in Kiruna for that meeting faced heavy fog as they were coming in to the airport (NN).

And in northern Canada again, Bell Mobility will be forced to pay damages to many of its northern customers, who were charged a fee for 911 service that, for the most part, isn’t available at all in the North (G&M).


A summit in Whitehorse gathered representatives from government, business and the community to discuss ways of saving the city’s cash-strapped ski hill, Mount Sima. The facility, already the beneficiary of at least CAD 12 million of government support, is in need of another CAD 400,000 just to keep the doors open (CBC).

CBC North offered five tips to maximize your camping experience in the Northwest Territories short summer season. Not on the list: bug spray, though I imagine that is taken for granted in the territories.

In Alaska, five members of the Alaska Air National Guard became the first party to summit the 20,320 ft high Denali this year (FNM).

An article two weeks ago trumpeted Iceland as a great destination for fly fishing. This week we find the island nation in the spotlight once again, this time as a summer golf spot. Long days mean you squeeze in more time on the links (IceNews).

The World Hockey Championships wrapped up this Sunday with the Gold and Bronze metal matches in Stockholm. Switzerland won convincingly over the US 3-0 in the semifinals on Thursday and advanced to the gold-medal round (CBS). There, the Swiss will face Sweden, fresh off their victory over Finland in the semifinals (CBC). We unfortunately “went to press” before the final results were in – check for final results.

A chilly spring rain couldn’t keep Whitehorse’s mountain bikers and trail runners off the trails last weekend. Yukon’s Contagious Mountain Bike Club hosted an event called “Welcome to Your Backyard” to celebrate the area’s internationally recognized trail network (Yukon News).

Images & Videos

Start your photo-perusing this week with several galleries of Murmansk Victory Day celebrations from Barents Observer and a short series of Instagram pics of Yellowknife in the spring, from Kyle Thomas. Then perhaps dig through a quick interview with Mark Beaumont, the photographer who accompanied a recent rowing expedition through the Canadian Arctic (Photography Monthly).

On Instagram, I’d recommend you follow @by_rebecca, the woman who is “on assignment,” so to speak, for the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. This week, enjoy her photos of an Arctic landscape from the air, the snow-covered tundra, field work in action, and her humble lodgings. Then pick up other gems of dog sledding (@chrishudson1977), an otherworldly Russian coastal landscape (@thetypoterrorist86), a river channel beneath an ice roof (@yakutia), and an exemplary piece of Inupiaq art (@maddddoggg).

From other folks, take a look at: (1) an amazing Arctic sunset, from Mia Stålnacke; (2) the interior of an ice cave in Belcher Glacier, NU, from NASA’s Goddard center; (3) an aerial view of Tombstone Territorial Park, YK, from Flickr user jimbob_malone; (4) the assembly of Arctic Council potentates sitting at lunch in the mine in Kiruna, from Carl Bildt; (5) a field trip that looks like none that I ever took, from Emily Ridlington; (6) a stylish photo of a sunlit Norwegian flag, from Nina Buvang Vaaja; (7) a Yakutian scene that I can only imagine is the Lena Pillars, from Bolot Bochkarev; (8) sand dunes on the shores of the Lena River, also from Bolot Bochkarev; (9) a beautiful Alaskan landscape, from Terzah Tippin Poe; (10) a snowplow having a tough go of things in the recent Rankin Inlet blizzard, from Nunatsiaq News; (11) a similar pic, also from Nunatsiaq News; and (12) a 3 year-old seal hunter, from Chris Pameolik via Madeleine Redfern.

The Grab Bag

Need suggestions on a Kola Peninsula road trip (Russia & India Report)? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to try the Road of Bones in the dead of winter ( / Finland (& Norway & Iceland & Denmark) made it to the finals of the Eurovision song contest (YLE). The Finnish contestant’s girl-on-girl kiss on stage, however, seems to have raised hackles in Georgia (YLE), though why anyone would report on that is beyond my comprehension. In the end, the contest was won by Denmark’s entry Emmelie de Forest (YLE). / The season finale of famous American cartoon The Simpsons will feature Iceland and the band Sigur Rós (IceNews). Iceland, you have arrived. / I am truly so grateful for Nunatsiaq News’s Taissumani feature, which regularly covers interesting or curious tales of Canada’s Arctic history. / The latest issue of above&beyond – another great info source from the Canadian North – is out and partially available on-line. / Several Nunavut communities were doubtless pleased to hear that money would be coming in from Ottawa for various cultural events and initiatives (NN). / A collection of northern Russia’s wooden architecture 15 km south of Arkhangelsk sounds like a genuinely fascinating thing to visit, for me at least (Russia & India Report). / 17 May, Norway’s Constitution Day, was an occasion for Norwegian celebrations in Murmansk as well (BN). / A vet from Nova Scotia found his brief stint working in Pangnirtung, NU very rewarding (Truro Daily News). / A proposed waterfront brew pub in Yellowknife got the approval it needed to set up shop this week (CBC). / 15 May was also the day on which Denali National Park opened its summer tourist season (FNM). / A Russian expedition making its way from the North Pole to Greenland is concerned that it will be floated out to sea on Arctic ice (VOR). / Border-runner Jason Echevarri does not seem to have made a good decision when he blew through the US-Canada border and then led border agents on a high-speed chase in a car with flat tires before running off into the bush (CBC). Maybe it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. / Craig Medred puts his acid wit to work on the legend of a giant man-eating grizzly that may never have existed (AD). / A bulldozer fell through some treacherous ice on its way to a remote Alaska lodge; the driver was killed and the equipment, of course, lost (AD). / Three people were attacked by loose dogs in Nunavik (CBC).

Abbreviation Key

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN)
Aftenbladet (AB)
Alaska Business Monthly (ABM)
Alaska Dispatch (AD)
Alaska Journal of Commerce (AJC)
Alaska Native News (ANN)
Alaska Public Media (APM)
Anchorage Daily News (ADN)
Barents Nova (BN)
Barents Observer (BO)
Bristol Bay Times (BBT)
BusinessWeek (BW)
Canadian Mining Journal (CMJ)
Christian Science Monitor (CSM)
Eye on the Arctic (EOTA)
Fairbanks News Miner (FNM)
Financial Times (FT)
Globe and Mail (G&M)
Government of Canada (GOC)
Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT)
Huffington Post (HP)
Johnson’s Russia List (JRL)
Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN)
Moscow Times (MT)
Natural Gas Europe (NGE)
Naval Today (NT)
New York Times (NYT)
Northern News Service Online (NNSO)
Northern Public Affairs (NPA)
Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI)
Nunatsiaq News (NN)
Oil & Gas Journal (OGJ)
Ottawa Citizen (OC)
Petroleum News (PN)
RIA Novosti (RIAN)
Russia Beyond the Headlines (RBTH)
Russia Today (RT)
Voice of Russia (VOR)
Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
Washington Post (WP)
Whitehorse Star (WS)
Winnipeg Free Press (WFP)
Yukon News (YN)