The Arctic This Week: 10 October - 16 October 2013

Used with kind permission of Clare Kines
The Arctic This Week 2013:37

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The Arctic Institute maintains and provides access to a list of Arctic-themed conferences, workshops, and events. You can access the list by clicking on the following link:

                  Arctic Conference and Events List

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If you’re short on time, we’ve prepared a brief list of the essential reads of the week. Enjoy!

Leading off is the 2013 edition of the Arctic Yearbook, The Arctic of Regions vs. The Globalized Arctic, made available at the Arctic Yearbook’s website. Totaling nearly 400 pages, the research and analysis are provided by the best and brightest in the field, and there’s something for everyone.  Well done!

In energy reads, see this well-written white paper by Stan Jones for the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Project on why the Northern Sea Route is of critical importance to Russia’s gas industry as it seeks to shift from supplying pipeline gas to stagnant markets in Europe to supplying LNG to Asia.

In science, a study by Camilo Mora from the University of Hawaii has captured our attention. Her study finds that the tropics, not the Arctic, will see the “earliest and most extreme effects” of climate change. One of the reasons is the low natural variation of temperature and other climate related factors in the tropics as the tropical ecosystems are not adapted for dealing with larger fluctuations (SA).
Meanwhile, Denmark ramps up its military involvement in the Arctic, Defense News profiles the Joint Arctic Command’s goals and mission-set, and looks at how Denmark is beginning to move resources to and train special operators for Arctic missions.

Moving onto mining, we recommend this article by Carey Rastino for the Arctic Sounder on the decision by Pebble Partnership to pull out of the controversial Pebble Mine project and its local impact.  Pink slips have begun to appear, reminding local communities of the fickle nature of resource economics in Alaska.

Did you know that ships’ “stowaways”, or inadvertently transported microorganisms, can endanger Greenland’s fisheries? Because the Arctic waters are warming up, they provide an adequate living environment for organisms catching a ride in the vessels’ hull or bilge water (KNR, in Danish).
Finally, here’s less of a “read”. Take a “look” at Jimmy Nelson’s photography project/film/book Before They Pass Away, which chronicles the world’s “last tribes” and features two of the twenty-nine tribes; the portraits of the Chukchi and the Nenets are beautifully captured by Nelson’s sharp lens.


The Arctic Circle Assembly

Over 900 participants from forty nations gathered in Reykjavík, Iceland over the weekend for the first Arctic Circle assembly (Yahoo, AJ). Aspiring to differ itself from most of the previous Arctic conferences that were “small and specialized” (NN), the Arctic Circle’s co-founders, Icelandic President Ólafur Grímsson and Alaska Dispatch publisher Alice Rogoff, envisioned an inclusive meeting of minds that brings a diverse range of stakeholders together to discuss interrelated, interdependent issues (AD). The Washington Times and Positions & Promotions both cited raising awareness and promoting engagement with Arctic issues, especially in the US, as a key reason behind the establishment of the forum.

Half-way through the first day’s events, the former Greenlandic premier Kuupik Kliest expressed satisfaction with the success of the event and joked that “Arctic white is the new black,” but suggested that more might be achieved with a smaller number of attendees next year (AJ). Greenland’s current premier, Aleqa Hammond, announced in her conference address that Greenland’s parliament is likely to vote to lift its zero tolerance policy on uranium mining on October 24 (KNR, in Danish).

While concerns over climate change and the Greenpeace protests “loomed” over the conference’s proceedings, the event’s more commercial focus remained intact. Polariis Consulting’s Mikå Mered, commented on the new forum: “This gives us a forum to talk business. There’s a lot of political symbolism here, but this is precisely what makes it acceptable to push business agendas (AJ).”


Greenpeace leaders used the Arctic Circle to call for the release of the “Arctic 30.” Activists dressed in polar bear suits demonstrated outside the conference, and Greenpeace International’s executive director Kumi Naidoo engaged in a “friendly-but-charged” conversation with the Russian polar researcher and Arctic envoy Artur Chilingarov (AD, AJ). During their exchange, Chilingarov emphasized the competency of the Russian legal apparatus, stressing that environmental issues should be discussed at international forums. He maintained that “there’s no need for actions like the one organized by Greenpeace.”

By the time Naidoo and Chilingarov met on Sunday, there had already been several important new developments in the Greenpeace story. Russian investigators searched the Arctic Sunrise and reportedly found narcotics and “equipment with potential military uses” on board (Aljazeera, CNN, CSM and, in Russian). Responding to the drug allegations in a press release, Greenpeace claimed, “We can only assume the Russian authorities are referring to the medical supplies that our ships are obliged to carry under maritime law,” as the ship had been inspected by Norwegian authorities before traveling to the Russian Arctic. A day earlier, a Murmansk court rejected the bail appeals of three Russian citizens accused of piracy, the Arctic Sunrise’s crew member Ekaterina Zaspa, Greenpeace activist Andrei Allakhverdov, and freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov (The Guardian, The Washington Post, NN). On Friday, the bail appeals of the two British citizens involved in the case were also denied (BBC).

Following the court’s decisions, Naidoo expressed willingness to “share the fate” of his fellow activists, suggesting he would relocate to Russia and offer himself “as a guarantor for the Greenpeace activists, were they to be released on bail” (Reuters, Euronews, Upstream). Others expressed solidarity with the activists, including Hilary Clinton, who stated that “there should be greater international outcry” over the arrests (The Independent); the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum adopted a statement condemning the activists’ detention (Bellona); several dozen journalists in St. Petersburg protested to demand the release of their colleague Denis Sinyakov (eNCA); and Russian artist Leonid Tisjkov pulled out of an exhibition in Vienna titled “Dreaming Russia,” because it featured the work from Gazprom Bank’s collection (, in Swedish).

Tensions continued to increase between Russia and the Netherlands after President Putin demanded that the Netherlands apologize for arresting the Russian diplomat Dmitry Borodin in the Hague over a week ago (The Washington Post). As the Dutch foreign ministry is contesting the seizure of the Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise in claiming that Russia is unlawfully detaining the thirty alleged “pirates” (BO), the two countries are on less-than-friendly terms. The Russian Foreign Ministry official, Alexander Lukashevich, stated that his country is “generally and hypothetically” prepared for arbitration (RBTH). 

This week’s round of editorials and commentaries on the Greenpeace story include pieces by Chris Fleming for Russia Beyond the Headlines, Douglas Guilfoyle for the European Journal of International Law’s blog, EJIL: Talk!, Andrew Foxall for The Atlantic, and Karsten Jakob Møller from the Danish Institute for International Studies (in Danish). The Toronto Star and also published unaccredited editorials on the topic. If you’d like to read more on this story, The Guardian has compiled all its “Arctic 30” stories and Greenpeace has released a detailed (perhaps biased) timeline chronicling the events “from peaceful action to dramatic seizure.”

North America

In Alaska, the federal government shutdown is weighing heavily on both Alaskan workers (FNM) and the Alaska Department of Revenue (AD). At the gubernatorial level, Sean Parnell has named Bruce Cole as a special counsel in an ongoing inquiry into the conduct of state and federal officials enforcing clean water laws in the Fortymile region (FNM). Another appointment of interest is Nikoosh Carlo, now the executive director of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission. The Commission meets again on October 22 (FNM). Election results for the Northwest Arctic and North Slope boroughs were also announced this week (Arctic Sounder). In other Alaskan news, the Alaskan Supreme Court held the first climate change related appeal (EOTA). The case features the allegations of six young plaintiffs who “claim the state has an obligation to protect the atmosphere from excessive carbon emissions.”

In Washington, D.C., the Finnish Embassy published a summary of an Arctic Maritime Awareness Seminar, organized with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and held on September 27. It is available from Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Moving on to Canadian news, James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, visited Canada this week, and the government of the Yukon and Alaska signed an appendix to the Alaska-Yukon Intergovernmental Relations Accord. The appendix seeks to develop a “corridor” that would transmit power and telecommunications services between Yukon and Southeast Alaska (FNM). Anaya met with the representatives from Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada on October 7 (NN). In the Northwest Territories, Mark Warren has been selected to “take the helm” of the new, post-devolution Lands Department until Premier Bob McLeod appoints a minister (NJ); and Deline’s self-government agreement is reportedly “good to go.” The next step, setting a date to ratify the self-government package, is on the horizon according to The Northern Journal. In other election-related stories, Nunatsiaq News published the bios of four candidates vying for the vacant Iqaluit City Council seat, and the Government of Nunavut has introduced new media rules for its territorial election on October 28 (CBC).


Vygaudas Usackas, head of the EU’s delegation in Russia, told Kommersant that human rights would likely act as a significant “stumbling stone” in the EU’s visa facilitation talks with Russia: “Only by respecting human dignity, observing minority rights and citizens’ freedoms, among them political, can we go hand-in-hand towards our common goal” (BO). Also hoping to work closely with the EU is the Northern Periphery Programme, a coalition of EU and non-EU member states formed to seek EU regional aid. EU Observer reports that the programme “is for the first time seeking to include the Arctic” among the territories it covers, bringing substantial EU funding to the region.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov wrapped up a two-day visit to Belgium on October 15. The visit marked the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries (VOR). RT recently interviewed Minister Lavrov at Bali’s APEC Summit, which you can watch (it’s all in English) on Youtube.

Norway’s new conservative government released its political platform (PDF, in Norwegian) last Monday, which positions the North as the top foreign policy priority, and promised extended hours and enhanced capacity at the Storskog border checkpoint (BO). Earlier that day, Odd Eriksen, the County Governor of Nordland, Norway since 2006, resigned from his post (BO). Out of respect for his family, Eriksen refuses to discuss the reasons for his resignation publicly. Elsewhere in Europe last week, another slightly suspicious situation arose: a blog post appeared on the website for the UN’s upcoming climate change talks in Warsaw, Poland that argues that in addition to providing access to hydrocarbon exploitation, climate change in the Arctic would allow for the possibility of “chasing the pirates, terrorists and ecologists that will come to hang around” (The Guardian, Corporate Europe Observatory). European observers called the post, which neglects the negative sides of climate change, “crazy” and “outrageous,” and called for its removal.

The Arctic and Beyond

Just in case you thought we could get through an entire politics section without mentioning China or India and their Arctic ambitions, Troy Media posted a piece on China’s long-term Arctic strategy and Mia Bennett crafted a post for Foreign Policy Blogs on the AsiArctic Conference in New Delhi, India.


Speaking of Asia and the Arctic, here is an interesting short article from Georgi Ivanov for the Atlantic Council of Canada on why Arctic oil and gas are becoming increasingly important to Singapore.


An editorial in the New York Times covers some familiar ground regarding the increasingly dire condition of the Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom as it fails to adjust to changing economic and political realities.  Is Gazprom on the ropes?  The company’s demise has been trumpeted before. Now that the company is under investigation for price gouging by EU regulators and a bill is moving through the Kremlin that will loosen Gazprom’s export monopoly -- the company’s position does begin to look perilous (BO).  President Putin took advantage of his time at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit last week to promote Russia’s efforts to export more gas to Asia, though he tellingly highlighted Novatek’s efforts on the Yamal LNG project (Siberian Times). Putin also signed a new suite of tax incentives to benefit offshore oil and gas development in the Arctic this week (AIR, Russian).

In spite of the doom and gloom, Gazprom announced promising results from exploratory drilling at the Novoportovskoye field on the Yamal Peninsula and that it will begin a full-scale drilling program to bring the large field to production in 2014 (AIR, Russian). Gazprom also announced some details of their development plans for the North-Kamennomysskoye and Kamennomysskoye  gas fields in the Gulf of Ob (AIR, Russian).

While many would say that Greenpeace has its hands full in the Russian Arctic at present, a new conflict between the environmental group and Russia’s oil and gas sector may be heating up over the proposed exploration activities around Wrangel Island in northeast coast of Siberia which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yereth Rosen provides background on the topic in this article for the Alaska Dispatch. Meanwhile BBC reporter Daniel Sanford reported from the Prirazlomnaya oil rig, the site of the Greenpeace protests that have landed more than two dozen activists in Russian jails (BBC).

In other Russian energy news, a rupture at a Lukoil pipeline led to a fire and oil spill near the Kolva River in Nenets (AIR, Russian). Chetra Industrial Machines have produced a new, tracked firefighting vehicle to support oil and gas work on snowy and marshy conditions (AIR, Russian). Finally, the work on the floating nuclear power station Akademik Lomonosov is in its final stages (, in Russian).


After the petitioning companies provided more information on the potential impact on marine wildlife (NN), the National Energy Board is reassessing a joint plan to conduct seismic surveys for oil and gas exploration in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, Nunavut.

The Common Sense Canadian takes aim at the natural gas industry this week with several articles, dismaying the collusion of government and industry in underselling British Columbia’s LNG to Asia and highlighting the dangers of fracking in northeastern BC and Quebec. 

An Alberta Queen’s Bench judge condemned the provincial government’s decision to prohibit environmental groups from making comments and recommendations during the regulatory review of a major oil sands development project near Fort McMurray (NJ).

A delegation of government and First Nations officials from the Northwest Territories visited the Bakken Shale regions of Saskatchewan and North Dakota to learn lessons – both good and bad – about rapid resource development as NWT prepares for the industry’s growing interest in the Canol Shale oil play (NJ).


An article in Alaska Native News catches up with mariner Jim Cobb and his efforts to bring his oil spill remediation techniques to the attention of the government and industry in Alaska.

Dermot Cole takes a look at how the dominant position of the “Big Three” oil companies (BP, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon Mobil) on the North Slope may be limiting competition and new production in an article for the Alaska Dispatch.  The Big Three along with TransCanada – partners in the Alaska Pipeline Consortium – have selected the Kenai Peninsula village of Nikiski as the terminus for a long-discussed pipeline that will finally bring North Slope gas to market (AD). Paradoxically, in this gas rich state, south-central Alaska has been in danger of running short of natural gas for several years.  Suzanna Caldwell, writing for the Alaska Dispatch, does a good job of sketching out the challenges the region faces to preserve its gas supplies and contingency plans, including importing LNG, that are being considered for the future.

In other North Slope news, Great Bear Petroleum has announced promising results from oil shale prospecting south of Prudhoe Bay (EOTA).

Off shore, Shell is sponsoring oil spill response workshops in the Bering Strait village of Wales, a sign that the company is not giving up on its exploration campaign in the region despite having had to scrap drilling work for the 2013 season (AD).  The workshops are the result of the efforts of the Bering Sea Alliance, a corporation that has linked together ten Arctic villages to increase their political voices regarding resource development in the region. The Aleutian village of Dutch Harbor has approved the construction of a new 600-feet dock in anticipation of increased business if and when Shell returns to the region (AD).

In spite of the fact that Fairbanks isn’t the first place that comes to mind when one ponders the potential of solar energy, the Alliance for Reason and Knowledge has put together a self-guided tour of eight residences and businesses in the city that makes use of solar power to promote the alternative energy’s potential (FNM). Several western Alaskan communities will see significant utility savings in the near future thanks to the non-profit Alaska Villages Electric Cooperative’s take-over of the Bethel Utilities Corp. (FNM).


Another issue with the water supply forced the nuclear reactor at Oskarshamn to power down again this week (EOTA).


While drilling to identify potential reservoir rocks for a proposed carbon sequestration project on Svalbard, researchers discovered natural gas in potentially large quantities in a shale formation (BO).

Lundin Petroleum’s recent large discovery in the Norwegian Barents could be the first of many new discoveries in the region, according to this article in Bloomberg.  Amazingly, Lundin’s well that penetrated the massive reservoir at the Gohta prospect was only 1.9 km from a 1986 well drilled by Shell that came up dry.


This week, there was a lot of talk about the warming Arctic. The “heat is on” in the Barents Sea (BO); Fairbanks in Alaska experiences a “warmer- and browner-than-normal October” (NM); and the Hudson Bay Lowlands in Canada, previously “remarkably” resistant to warming (NG), has been seeing the local temperatures rise rapidly over the past two decades, according to a team of researchers from Queen’s University, Laurentian University and Ontario’s environment ministry (NN). The thawing permafrost resulting from increasing temperature leads to so-called “drunken forests” in some areas, where trees sink into the soil (Think Progress). To counteract the destabilization from the melting permafrost, the Yamal District Technology Park in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Russia, is testing Cryogel, a special polymer material designed to stabilize the soil (InfoRos, in Russian). Another worry is greenhouse gas emissions, which may be released from the permafrost when it thaws (SD). Regarding mercury emissions, the Arctic Council welcomed the Minamata Convention, whose goal is “to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds” (Arctic Council).
However, even worse off than the Arctic are the tropics that will see the “earliest and most extreme effects” of climate change, according to Camilo Mora from the University of Hawaii. One of the reasons is the low natural variation of temperature and other climate-related factors in the tropics, which means that the tropical ecosystems are not adapted to dealing with larger fluctuations (SA).
It is interesting that not so long ago, scientists were occupied with different aspirations -- to melt the Arctic Ocean! During the Cold War, the Soviet researcher Petr Mikhailovich Borisov, for instance, had developed a plan to melt the Arctic Ocean by constructing “a dam spanning the 55 mile Bering Strait” that would redirect global water currents, thereby warming the Arctic Ocean (Motherboard).
Flora and fauna
Grizzly bears and wolves are becoming more common in the American High Arctic. Their increasing presence threatens communities and poses problems for caribou and muskox populations (NN). Caribou, however, also face various other pressures, such as the push for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is on the agenda of the International Porcupine Caribou Board, which includes organizations from both the U.S. and Canada. The Board met last month to discuss conservation issues of North America's fifth largest migratory caribou herd (AS). Similarly, the Ungava Peninsula Caribou Aboriginal Round Table met at the end of September to discuss caribou conservation in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada (EOTA). As reported in the last week’s TATW, a study by Jeffrey Kerby and Eric Post, published on October 1 in Nature, suggests that the decline of caribou numbers might further be linked to the melting of sea ice (Nature). In Russian Karelia, the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute (RKTL), the forest management agency Metsähallitus and the University of Eastern Finland are planning to survey the rare Finnish forest reindeer, a subspecies of reindeer found in eastern Finland and northwest Russia. In addition to an aerial census, they will use collars to track the animals’ movements (EOTA).
Ever wondered what fish guts look like? You’ll find out when you read this blog (including photos) reporting on the work of a research team examining and measuring freshly fished Polar cod around Svalbard, Norway. Aside from giving us insights about the fieldwork of marine biologists, the blog entry explores the effects of little sleep. The nausea induced by the pictures brings you closer to the research team’s challenges and makes you feel like you’re on board with them on a particularly stormy day. Or is it just us? Also, make sure to check out the other blog entries (GeoJourno)!
Further west, the pod of killer whales tracked by Peter Ewins, have now accelerated their pace on their southerly migration after feeding themselves in many “Ecologically Important Areas” along Canada’s eastern shore (WWF).
A controversial article comes from Kenneth Artz of the Heartland Institute. He cites U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports and links the receding sea ice in the Chukchi Sea to the health improvements of Chukchi polar bears, which contradicts previous findings that polar bears suffer from climate change (Heartland).
The U.S. federal government shutdown heavily affects scientific research in the Arctic. Scientists of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are now banned from federal wildlife refuges. Why? Good question (AD). This is in sharp contrast with the U.S. National Science Foundation’s funding of USD 1.7 million for research on the trends in the Pacific walrus population to the University of Alaska Fairbanks and collaborating organizations (NM).
In Anchorage, Alaska, visitors of the “Quake Cottage” last week had the chance to experience an earthquake of 8.0 on the Richter scale. The experience was a part of the Emergency Preparedness Conference of the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (AD). In addition to the great number of earthquakes that Alaskans experience on a daily basis, the Veniaminof Volcano, active since June, resumed its eruption two weeks ago, spreading ash fall into two other communities (FNM).
In the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, two glacial lakes, Skilak Lake and Snow Glacier Dammed Lake, release all their water every other year due as water pressure builds up and lifts up the glacier. The Snow Glacier Dammed Lake is currently draining, which could possibly lead to flooding (AD).
Colorado State University’s PhD student Natalie Kramer Anderson describes how the driftwood carried by ice and water contributes to land growth in the NWT, Canada – a process that she named “driftcretion,” a combination of the words driftwood and accretion (NJ).
The Geographic Faculty of the Moscow State University has published the atlas, The Russian Arctic in the 21st century: natural conditions and risks of development (AIR, in Russian).

Two articles this week highlight some of the trials and tribulations associated with the shipbuilding and procurement processes in Canada. A logjam at one of Canada’s shipyards means that Canada has had to choose between replacing its 1960s supply ships and the coast guard icebreaker, Louis St. Laurent. While the former has been prioritized, the Canadian navy will still have to wait at least 18 months after their retirement for the new joint supply ships to arrive. During this time, it will depend on its allies to resupply the warships when deployed overseas. The Louis St. Laurent will remain in service until 2022, rather than its planned retirement date of 2017, and will require up to CAD 55 million in refits and upgrades (CBC and

United States

The USAF has finalized its criteria upon which F-35A Joint Strike Fighter basing will be determined. Nine Pacific bases are under consideration, including Eielson AFB. Pacific Air Forces commander praised Eielson’s “abundant training space, but said the base’s winters and its remoteness presented challenges” (FNM).

A small plane crashed in the Aleutian Islands near Cold Bay. Fortunately, the pilot is not injured; but the cause of the crash is not known yet (FNM). Elsewhere, USCG personnel rescued five men near Hooper Bay after their boat ran out of gas and was left adrift in the Bering Sea (FNM).


Russia’s new Severodvinsk multipurpose submarine appears to be heading towards another delay. The submarine, originally scheduled to be completed in 1998 and rescheduled four times, is allegedly suffering from problems with its firing systems and propeller shafts. United Shipbuilding Corporation denies any technical problems and claims that the ship will be sea-ready by the end of 2013 (BO).


An 18-year-old man from Behchoko, NWT, who went missing this weekend after getting lost, has been found; he is currently recovering in a local hospital. His conditions are unclear (CBC).



Here is a great short piece from Tim Falconer for Up Here Magazine that describes the author’s experiences in a mining camp in Yukon in 1979 and the colorful characters who made a home there.

Both the mining industry and First Nations groups in Quebec are petitioning the provincial government to allow ‘impact and benefit agreements’ between mining companies and aboriginal communities to remain confidential as a part of broader reforms to the province’s mining regulations (NN).

In Nunavut, Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. released some hard numbers on the impressive amounts of material they were able to ship in to support their Mary River mine on Baffin Island (NN). The Hope Bay gold mine project has received a new lease after the new owners signed a five-year lease for the property and won approval for their water use plan from regional regulators (NN).  Sabina Gold & Silver Corp., a precious metals company, released a pre-feasibility study on open-pit and underground gold mining at the Back River site (NN). Finally, De Beers decided not to acquire the control of the Chidliak diamond prospect 120 km from Iqaluit, leaving the current owner Peregrine Diamonds Ltd. in sole ownership of the prospect (Bloomberg, NN).

Farther west in the NWT, a corporation owned by five First Nations groups is buying up mining claims throughout the territories with an eye to becoming the first aboriginal-owned company to run a mine in Canada (EOTA). Environmentalists are increasingly concerned about potential conflicts of interest and lack of transparency with the government agency responsible for the massive clean-up effort at the contaminated Giant mine site near Yellowknife (CBC).


Carey Restino writes a nice piece on the local impact of the decision by Pebble Partnership to pull out of the controversial Pebble Mine project.  Pink slips have begun to appear, reminding local communities of the fickle nature of resource economics in Alaska (Arctic Sounder).

Goldrich Mining Company is closing up its shops for the season as well as its Chandalar project after producing 680 ounces of gold for the year (FNM).


The “Tsar of Diamonds,” a 235.17 carat gem worth USD 2 million, was discovered in the Yubileynaya pipe in the Sakha Republic by Alrosa (Siberian Times). Alrosa announced ambitious investment plans this week through which the company hopes to increase its diamond output by 16.8% by 2018 (AIR, in Russian).

Russian oil company Lukoil will be getting into the diamond business when a subsidiary begins work at the Grib deposit near Arkhangelsk this year (AIR, in Russian).

A new gold field, a project of the Canadian Kinross Gold Company, has begun its production in Russia’s Chukotka region (AIR, in Russian).


The Talivaara nickel mine is in trouble again, announcing the need for additional financing to continue operations. However, no layoffs are imminent (EOTA). 


True North Gems, a ruby mining prospect 160 km south of Nuuk, reported vandalism at its base in Nuuk earlier this week (KNR, in Danish).

Speaking at the Arctic Circle this weekend in Reykjavik, Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond said Greenland would soon overturn its moratorium on uranium mining and begin exporting the material.  Her remarks drew criticism from opposition politicians as Greenland’s parliament has not voted in support of overturning the moratorium yet (KNR, in Danish).

New aluminum discoveries in Itilleq fjord are raising optimism amongst local politicians regarding the feasibility of aluminum smeltering in the region (KNR, in Danish).

A coalition of three prominent NGOs in Greenland are encouraging Greenland’s citizens to become more involved in decisions regarding mining and industrial projects as the pace of development quickens (AJ).


Russia and Norway have signed bilateral agreements to establish a sustainable fish quota for 2014. The 993,000 tons quota for cod is slightly lower than the previous year’s record high quota, while the capelin quota was substantially reduced to 15,000 tons (BO).
Meanwhile, Bering Sea crab fishers are stuck onshore after the U.S. government’s shutdown because of the freeze on the National Marine Fisheries Service's RAM program that issues the required individual fishing quota permits. The crabbers are impatient to get back, mainly to be able to sell king crabs in time for the lucrative Japanese New Year celebrations (AD).
The Northern Sea Route is big in the news again. The CEO of Maersk dismisses the potential of the NSR for commercial shipping within the next 10 to 20 years (NN) and has put off acquiring special vessels adapted to the Arctic waters (Blue and green tomorrow). Others see the route’s great opportunities in the near future (AJ). In preparation, the certification society Bureau Veritas has developed rules and guidance notes for operation in Arctic environments (ML) to ensure the safety of vessels and offshore units (Bureau Veritas). What is more, Russia’s Internavigation Research and Technical Centre and the UK’s General Lighthouse Authorities also aim to improve shipping safety in the Arctic waters by increasing the compatibility and interoperability of advanced navigation technologies (S4S).
A new study by Aarhus University shows that ships’ “stowaways”, or inadvertently transported microorganisms, can endanger Greenland’s fisheries. Because the Arctic waters are warming up, they provide an adequate living environment for organisms catching a ride in the vessels’ hull or bilge water (KNR, in Danish). The report “Identification of Arctic marine areas of heightened ecological and cultural significance: Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) IIc,” published in September, comes to similar conclusions. Besides the introduction of alien species, ships strike marine mammals, disrupt their migratory patterns, create noise disturbance, and most importantly, increase the risk of oil spills (AMAP).
Other business and economic news
In Russia, Siberia has the potential to become the “major base for the strengthening of the Russian state,” as Alexander Uss puts it. For Siberia to become an area of “exceptional economic and social comfort,” resource allocations go hand in hand with legal and organizational schemes (ST). An example of Siberia’s potential can be found on the Yamal peninsula of northwestern Siberia, whose Governor, Dmitry Kobylkin, places special emphasis on agriculture. The agricultural sector has become one of the most dynamic sectors of the regional economy, lending substance to the idea of supplying the region with its own agricultural products (AIR, in Russian).  Furthermore, the fish production on the Yamal peninsula has increased by almost 11% since the beginning of the year (AIR, in Russian).
The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources is working on a law, which will require industrial companies to clean up their production sites after finishing with them. So far, the state has had to invest billions of rubles for clean-up of former industrial sites (BO). Meanwhile, Parks Canada withdrew its charges against Rowe’s Construction, which it had accused of illegal dumping of diesel into a gravel pit in Wood Buffalo National Park, NWT, Canada (NJ).
On October 24th, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is offering a business plan writing seminar (NM). You can find the original announcement and other seminars for small businesses on the UAF’s website. In addition, check out other fall courses that the UAF offers (UAF).

Canadian news dominated this week’s health-related stories. Groups from the Northwest Territories organized activities as a part of Family Violence Awareness Week (NJ); a kidney transplant recipient in Arviat, Nunavut hiked over 100 kilometers in support of the Canadian Kidney Foundation (CBC); and mobile breast cancer screenings are set to arrive in Fort McKay, Canada on October 16 (NJ). Addressing the challenges of caring for the elderly, Yellowknife leaders met to ensure that seniors have adequate access to services (CBC). Meanwhile, Fort Chip plans to open a senior center in the spring (NJ).

In education, the Alaska Board of Education and Early Development is set to meet via teleconference on October 28 (FNM). Piteå, a northern Swedish town, was selected as this year’s best school district in Sweden (EOTA).

There are lots of actions under the “society” headline this week. The editors from Barents Observer held a “Barents Editors’ Forum” for the first time; Canadian World Youth sponsored a visit to Nunavut for Peruvian students (NN); Canada’s RCMP conducted a social media campaign to aid their investigations on missing aboriginal women (CBC); and volunteers worked to help rebuild Hughes, Alaska after severe flooding (FNM). Additionally, students from Canada’s Aurora College met with employers at the Practice North Career Conference (NJ); police in the Northwest Territories planned to crack down on drunk driving over the Thanksgiving weekend as part of their Operation Impact campaign (CBC); and Yellowknifers and consultants met to develop strategies to revitalize the community as a center for research, higher education, and “Aboriginal economic development” (NJ).

In society-related news stories and reports, Aljazeera published a story on the struggle to save the Greelandic village of Niaqornat from the consequences of ice melt, and the Qikiqtani Truth Commission released their “Thematic Reports and Special Studies, 1950-1975.” The Finnish National Archive negotiated access to KGB archives from the 1950s (EOTA); Russia’s Solovetsky Islands, home of the Solovetsky monastery, have been granted federal preserve status (BO); and Iqaluit’s “Anglican diocese of the Arctic” is in crisis as a result of last May’s financial collapse of Dowland Contracting Ltd. (EOTA, NN).

Rounding up the socio-cultural front: Russian legislators from Yakutia and the Taimyr Dolgan-Nenets region met this week to discuss cultural preservation (AIR, in Russian); the Yellowknife International Film Festival gave out its first set of awards (NJ); Canadian puppeteer Derric Starlight visited Fort Smith, giving a performance intended to target bullying in schools (NJ); and Nunatsiaq News reported on the recent declaration for the preservation of Arctic cultural heritage sites drafted in Finland.

The Youth Arctic Coalition is seeking position papers on issues such as northern food security, energy exploration, languages, health and well-being, indigenous rights, Arctic contaminants, education, and Arctic sovereignty. Norway’s High North Program 2013-2018 is also accepting applications (due December 16, 2013).



A new “Arctic Express” train route serving high-speed trains will soon connect Helsinki to Rovaniemi in Lapland later this month (YLE). 


An odd story surfaced this week. A Yakutia Airlines 737 has been grounded by repo men on the tarmac in Anchorage before the plane was due to return to Russia as the airline has failed to make the lease payments (AD). That’s not all that has been grounded in Alaska lately.  An article in the Alaska Dispatch looks at the disproportionate impact the U.S. government shutdown is having on aviation in Alaska.  Seventy-seven of the state’s eighty Federal Aviation Administration agents have been furloughed, leading to problems and delays with safety inspection and certification that have caused significant headaches for this aviation-dependent state (AD).

Fairbanks is in the midst of some infrastructure upgrades, unveiling a new road construction project aimed at alleviating congestion in the city’s east (FNM) and announcing a USD 1 million grant to begin upgrading and expanding the city’s system of 14 waste transfer stations (FNM). No word yet on what will be done about a popular Fairbanks well, maintained by the state Department of Transportation that has gone dry. The well is used by many local residents who don’t have running water on their property (FNM).


The Yamal LNG project has received the go-ahead from the state regulators to begin construction of the Sabetta seaport, which includes dredging of a shipping channel to the site through the Gulf of Ob (AIR, in Russian). Meanwhile the governor of the Yamal-Nenets district announced that the planned construction of a 707 km rail line, linking Salehard to Korotchaevo, could begin earlier than expected, perhaps in 2014 (AIR, in Russian).

Low water levels on the Lena River in Yakutia this year wreaked havoc with local shipping. Only 35% of essential goods bound for local communities were delivered before the river froze up, and the regional officials are looking to construct a 1,400 km ice road to make sure that residents in remote communities have enough fuel and food to survive the winter season (AIR, in Russian). Speaking of ice roads, watch this video features the Evenkiysky District’s ice road in Siberia (Vimeo).

President Putin encouraged his counterparts at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit last week to invest in infrastructure projects in Russia’s Far East and Arctic (AIR, in Russian).

A recently reconstructed section of the E105 road that links Murmansk to the Norwegian border is now open to the public (BO).

In spite of a stagnating economy and falling tax revenues, the city of Arkhangelsk on Russia’s White Sea is experiencing a housing construction boom with 1832 new structures since 2012 (BO).


Last week, contamination at a reservoir in northern Sweden led to a boil water advisory in the nearby towns of Mellansel, Brandtjäl, Yttersel, Gottne, Hållen and Östansjö (EOTA).

A shopping center of 100,000m² is being planned for a location near Haparanda along the Finnish border (BO).


Thirty per cent of Yellowknife is built on permafrost and the city is eager to gets its hands on a new dataset from Natural Resources Canada that tracks permafrost conditions.  The data can help the city plan infrastructure improvements that may be required due to thawing permafrost (EOTA).


It’s hunting season across the northern regions of North America.  Hunters had to navigate through closures of national parks and wildlife refuges in Alaska.  Locals on the Kenai River seem to be ignoring the closures, despite the absence of professional guides (AD).  The shutdown may also delay the opening of the Bering Sea crab fishery and filming of this year’s season of “The Deadliest Catch.”  Three hunters were charged this week for an August incident during which they chased down a moose in a swamp near the Knik River with a jet boat (nicknamed the “Critter Getter”) and killed it with arrows (FNM, AD).

Alaska Dispatch covers an inspiring story of Fairbanks-based mountaineer Andy Sterns who, six months after breaking both legs and falling into a coma on climbing trip near Nome, ran a 9-mile leg in the Equinox Marathon (AD).

A worthwhile read in the Northern Journal profiles a “hand-game” tournament for youth in the NWT community of Behchoko.  The tournament, now in its seventh year, seeks to preserve the traditional hand games of the Dene people (NJ). The NWT Recreation and Parks Association held its annual awards banquet this week in Fort Smith, highlight the achievements of recreation and sports leaders across the territories (NJ).

River guide and author Michelle Swallow is profiled in this article for the Northern Journal.  Swallow, who authored the popular Mackenzie River Guide, has been working hard to produce a similar guide for the Athabasca and Slave rivers, even though this guide may only be published online.

The Scandinavian countries have a unique tradition known as “everyman’s right” (jokamiehenoikeus, in Finnish) that people are free to roam across public and private lands unimpeded for recreational purposes.  This article in the Barents Observer highlights this tradition and the efforts to educate the public of the rights and the accompanying responsibilities (BO).


Starting with the flickr shots, we have a white grouse chick from the Arctic Council, an icy sunrise and northern and superficial lights from Clare Kines, an almost painting-like first snow in Yukon's Kluane National Park from Keith Williams, another gorgeous grayscale from Mikofox, and “Morning Sun at the Point” shot by Paul Aningat.

Arunabha Ghosh tweeted about President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson speaking at the first Assembly of the Arctic Circle, as well as the protestors in polar bear suits, as did Twitter user Carlos Gavina. On Instagram, terocitas posted a shot of a cold-looking Tromsø, rebeccayale captured a lone polar bear floating on thin ice, and project pressure got a great action shot of children trampolining in Greenland.

We found some great photo galleries by Karim Sahai, Guillaume Herbaut and (this one especially so) Jimmy Nelson this week, and English Russia posted a series of photographs of Arctic convoys.


An early season snow storm shut down Iqaluit for most of the day on October 8 (NN). Snow had plows out across interior Alaska (FNM). Somehow, a canister of bear spray was cracked open in a mall last week in Anchorage, Alaska (FNM). A truly bizarre story from Alex DeMarban appears in the Alaska Dispatch this week about an Alaskan survivalist, a house with a hot tub and a Gatling gun and the case of $400,000 in missing coins from a local car wash. Finland is seeking more males to enter the ranks of its diplomatic corps.  In 2012, 80% of new diplomats were women (YLE). A Siberian police man was given a special commendation last week for his help in banishing an evil spirit (RIAN), and if you plan to travel to Russia, I highly recommend this article from the Moscow Times on how not to shake hands with Russians.


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