The Arctic This Week: 22 November to 27 November

The Arctic This Week 2013: 42

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Happy Thanksgiving to all of our American readers! Just in case you thought we’ve been taking it easy on you with Reads of the Week lately, this week’s top political picks – an edited volume on “Media and the Politics of Arctic Climate Change” and the  Arctic Yearbook 2013 (okay, if you’re feeling lazy “This Year in the Arctic” by Tom Fries on page 11 will do) – will keep you on your toes. If you’ve got any energy left after that for the rest of the world, Alan Little discusses Scottish independence and the “Nordic model” in an interesting piece for BBC.

For sheer reading pleasure, you can’t go wrong with this fantastic article by Kelsey Eliasson in Up Here Magazine about a journey to Ulukhaktok on Canada’s Northwest Passage to find the elusive polar bear/grizzly hybrid, known colloquially as the “groler.”

For something a bit different in energy reads this week, see this article in the Alaska Dispatch that looks at the efforts by local communities to wean themselves off expensive imported fuels by shifting to local energy sources. If this article piques your interest, you can dig deeper by reading the Northwest Arctic Strategic Energy Plan that was developed cooperatively by the region’s communities.

Speaking at the 2013 Halifax International Security Forum, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel unveiled the Department of Defense’s first Arctic Strategy. In his remarks, Secretary Hagel laid out the U.S interests in the region – and how DoD would work to attain them. He also emphasized the need and opportunity for cooperation between nations, the public and private sectors, and federal and local government (NYTimes, Marine Corps Times, Reuters, US News and World Report, ABCNews, and AIR). Hagel also acknowledged that the Navy is currently examining ways to increase operational capabilities in the region and working towards the completion of an Arctic Road Map that will examine what investments, technology, and doctrine are needed to execute the Navy’s mission in the region. (DODBuzz,, PBS and CBC). Canadian Defense Minister Rob Nicholson welcomed the news, stating that the Pentagon’s strategy is “entirely consistent” with the Canadian strategy (Herald News).

Last week, a research team of the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) published a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrating the dramatic decline of sea ice cover in the past 150 years. By examining the tree ring-like growth layers of a long-lived rock-like organism called coralline algae which is widely distributed in the Arctic Ocean, the team was able to figure out the extent of ice cover during the algae’s life-span of 650 years (CBC). For more details, watch the university’s short video or have a look at the photographs (UTM).

Marketing or social responsibility? Coca Cola, in cooperation with WWF, champions the protection of one of its icons, the polar bear, in a campaign called “Arctic Home.” They also introduced four tagged and tracked polar bears, creatively named N26135, N23637, N26132, and N26153 (Arctic Home).
The Political Scene

Ten of the “Arctic 30” were released on bail last Thursday (AFP). So far, at least twenty-six of the arrested activists, crew members and journalists have been granted bail (BO). Asked to comment on the release of the ten activists, Russian President Putin called their cause “noble” and said, “the state should show clemency” (Johnson’s Russia List).

While President Putin seems to be smoothing over his Greenpeace problem (so much so that The Arctic Journal made the argument that Greenpeace had been “crying Arctic wolf” the whole time about the threat the Arctic 30 may have faced from the Russian judicial system), his government is not back in the Netherlands’ good graces. On Friday, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered Russia to release the Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise and all persons onboard during its seizure. Responding to the tribunal’s decision, Putin’s chief of staff Sergei Ivanov maintained, “we said from the beginning that we would not participate in this process” (AIR, in Russian).

Media outlets posted a slew of editorials this week (from The Christian Science Monitor, Russia Beyond the Headlines, The Huffington Post, Pravada, Energy Trends Insider, Barents Observer and Digital Journal) responding to Russia’s protective stance in the Arctic and its confrontation with Greenpeace over the “Arctic 30.”

Unfavorable light was also shed on Russia’s environmental record this week. Russia ranked fifty-third out of fifty-eight countries in Germanwatch’s Climate Change Performance Index (RIAN) and poor water quality in Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega threatens drinking water in northwest Russia (BO), prompting Putin to urge to immediately adopt Russia’s environmental security strategy (VOR). Alaska Dispatch and Nunatsiaq News also discussed Canada’s similarly poor environmental performance (Canada was ranked two slots below Russia on the index).

Germanwatch’s rankings were presented at the UN climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. Finland’s environmental minister Ville Niinistö said that the outcome of the talks will be “satisfactory at best” (EOTA) and environmental journalist Irene Quaile posted two editorials (“‘On Thin Ice’ at Warsaw Climate Talks” and “Why conferences like Warsaw won’t save the Arctic”), questioning the efficacy of “mega-events” in reducing global warming emissions. During the talks, the Arctic Council issued a statement reaffirming the Arctic states’ desire to reduce emissions under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (NN, Arctic Portal).

The Globe & Mail reported on Greenlandic Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond’s recent speech at the Halifax International Security Forum, where Ms. Hammond said that climate change would bring new opportunities to Greenland (KNR, in Danish). The seal hunt, a much more traditional Greenlandic enterprise, may be on surer footing after gaining support from environmental protection organizations. Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten interviewed WWF biologist Eva Garde, who said, “the WWF prefers that Greenlanders trap seals than import chicken and increase the world’s carbon dioxide footprint” (AJ).

In diplomatic news, a delegation from Norway’s Finnmark County visited Murmansk, Russia this week, celebrating twenty-five years of official cooperation between the neighboring regions (BO). Although traffic across the Norwegian-Russian border has increased significantly in recent years, the Norwegians have been unable to provide the funding for a new border checkpoint at Storskog, while Russia plans to use funding from the EU to build a EUR 26,000,000 facility at Borisoglebsk (BO). Aiko Morii discussed the EU’s role in Arctic governance this week for EU Speak.

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski met with the Secretary of State John Kerry (see photo) “to pave a path towards an effective Arctic strategy for the United States.”


The University of Alberta made substantial cuts to the Canadian Circumpolar Institute (The Northern Clipper). / The Canadian Studies Center put out its November 2013 report. / Vivek Prabhu compared Antarctic and Arctic governance for The Atlantic Council of Canada. / Fedor Lukyanov questions whether Russia will also pivot toward Asia (Worldcrunch). / James R. Holmes argues “Not All Conflict Is Irrational” in the Arctic (The Diplomat). / Greenland’s Qaasuitsup Municipality is considering dividing into two (KNR, in Danish).


The Working Group for Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response at the Arctic Council Secretariat is exploring the possibility of conducting a marine risk assessment for the Arctic to include the impacts of increased tourism, shipping, and oil and gas exploration (Press Release).


The federal government’s standards for Arctic offshore oil operations, called for by the Department of the Interior after Shell’s accident-prone 2012 drilling season, will be delayed until 2014, partly due to the October government shutdown (FuelFix, AD). Shell is moving ahead with its plans for the 2014 drill season all the same and has announced that it will drill five wells in its leases in the Chukchi Sea over several years (AD). To support its 2014 operations, Shell has contracted with Transocean to use the company’s Polar Pioneer rig for the price of USD 620,000 per day (Reuters). Shell, however, will be getting a new CEO in early 2014 and there is a possibility that the plans for Arctic drilling could change under the new leadership (Wilderness Society). To protest Shell’s plans for 2014, Greenpeace unfurled a huge banner on a Shell building in Rotterdam with a picture of one of the Arctic 30, presenting this image as “the price of Arctic oil” (Facebook).

Representatives from across northwest Alaska met in Kotzebue to discuss local energy challenges and a new Northwest Arctic Strategic Energy Plan. With many communities in the region dependent on expensive imported fuels, the Strategic Plan calls for the region to cut fuel imports and aim to meet 75% of the fuel needs by local sources by 2030 (AD).

With the CD-5 field on its way towards production in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, ConocoPhillips is looking to extend its operations further west into the reserve. However, the plans for new roads to support the expansion have drawn lawsuits from local residents and environmental organizations (AD). ConocoPhillips will also be putting another drilling rig to work to increase production at the Kuparuk field (FNM).

Ray Metcalfe, a former Alaska legislator, presents his case in the Alaska Dispatch concerning how Senate Bill 21, a law passed earlier this year that reduces taxes on oil production in the state, may in fact violate Alaska’s constitution (AD).

House Republicans passed two bills last week to streamline the process of obtaining permits for oil and gas exploration on federal lands and to open up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas leasing. President Obama has threatened to veto both bills and it is doubtful the measures will make it past the Democratic-controlled Senate (FNM). An editorial in the Everett, Washington, Herald expressed support for a different bill put on the Senate floor last week that calls for the whole of ANWR to be placed off limits for oil and gas exploration.


According to Wood Mackenzie, foreign investment is going to be crucial for Russia as it seeks to expand into unconventional and offshore deposits to maintain production levels in the long term (Press Release).

A bill to liberalize Russia’s exports of LNG, currently monopolized by Gazprom, is slowly making its way through the Duma and has picked up two amendments in the process. The first states that only companies that produce LNG can export it, and the second addresses financial reporting requirements (AIR, in Russian). Both amendments were apparently stripped the next day and the bill is moving towards completion (AIR, in Russian). Not to be outflanked by competitors, Gazprom officials met with representatives from Sovcomflot, the Russian state-owned shipping enterprise, to discuss shipping Gazprom LNG to the Asia-Pacific over the Northern Sea Route (AIR, in Russian).

Rosatom is in negotiations with South Africa to build 8 new nuclear reactors, potentially funded through low interest loans from the Russian government (Pronedra, in Russian). Russia might find a better use for those funds by upgrading some of its own aging reactors. Norwegians across the border are nervous that aging reactors at the Kola nuclear power plant, not scheduled for replacement until 2025-2030, don’t have sufficient safety and security systems (BO). The Number 4 reactor, incidentally the youngest reactor at the Kola nuclear plant in Murmansk, was forced to shut down last week after a temperature sensor gave off a false alarm (BO).

Riots rocked the Ukrainian capital Kiev after the administration of President Victor Yanukovich pulled out of an association deal with the EU (BBC). Russia exerted pressure on Ukraine to drop the deal and apparently offered to change some details of Ukraine’s gas contract with Gazprom (Pronedra, in Russian).

Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergey Donskoy was elated by last week’s announcement that the UN would recognize Russia’s claim to 52,000 km2 in the Sea of Okhotsk, saying that the region amounted to a “’Ali Baba’s Cave’ of natural resources” (ST).

Rosneft will invest USD 2.8 billion in three East Siberian oilfields to boost production in the coming years to help satisfy its agreements to ratchet up supply to China (ST).

Production figures for the Yamal peninsula were released for the first three-quarters of 2013, and the growth from 2012 was impressive with a 101.6% increase in oil production and a 125.9% increase in condensates over last year (AIR, in Russian). Italian oil and gas company Eni sold its stake in Arctic Russia to Gazprom and Novatek (AIR, in Russia). Arctic Russia, in turn, owns a 49% stake in Severenergia, a company that owns several exploration and production licenses in the Yamal (MT). Novatek and Gazprom’s joint venture, Yamal Development, will pick up the shares in Severenergia, increasing their joint stake to 80.4% (Bloomberg). Gazprom is moving ahead with plans to construct a new port and oil terminal on the Yamal Peninsula. It held public hearings on the topic last week in Salekhard (AIR, in Russian). Regulators, meanwhile, have withdrawn two Gazprom permits for oil and gas exploration in the Kara and Pechora seas. The reasons are unclear, although it appears Rosneft is also interested in these leases and has submitted a preliminary application for licenses there (AIR, in Russian).

While production booms on the Yamal Peninsula, the city of Murmansk is having trouble weaning itself from expensive fuel oil as it lacks access to affordable gas. Without nearby pipelines, the town is considering building a regasification plant and importing LNG to satisfy its energy needs (BN).

Greenpeace pointed out this week that the two icebreaking support vessels on “permanent” duty supporting Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil rig in the Russian Arctic have left for Murmansk and Archangelsk, a full three days sail away (Greenpeace). A piece in the Guardian, meanwhile, which drew quite a bit of attention this week, quoted a British oil spill expert saying that an oil spill at Gazprom’s Arctic rig is “a dead cert” and that he expects there to be a spill in the near future.

Russian sub-soil agency Rosnedra has concluded its 2013 exploration season during which it reports to have found several prospective oil and gas features in the Barents, Kara, Laptev and East-Siberian Seas (BO).


Building on a year of significant new discoveries, Statoil’s head of Arctic operations Runi Hansen says the company will continue its stepwise approach to the Arctic in the coming years, including expanding into Russia’s Arctic in cooperation with Rosneft (AJ).

Norwegian state-owned Petoro will be joining the China National Offshore Oil Company on an Icelandic exploration license near the Jan Mayen Islands (Bloomberg).

Construction delays on a new drilling platform in South Korea have pushed back production at the offshore Goliat field, though Eni has insisted that it will begin pumping oil from the field by next fall (BO).

Although the Norvarg field was suspected to contain 10 to 50 billion cubic meters of gas, disappointing flow rates of only 200,000 cubic meters per day have led Total to conclude that the field isn’t economically viable in the current market (Oilpro).

As Norway’s oil industry expands into the Barents Sea, the government’s safety watchdog has called on oil companies to make changes to operations to ensure that Arctic oil and gas exploration is done safely (Reuters).


Canada’s National Energy Board projects that the country’s oil production will increase 75% by 2035, while energy demand will increase only 28%, leaving the Board to conclude that Canada has more than enough fossil fuels to meet domestic demand over the next two decades (CBC).

Alberta’s government will not be changing course on its decision to exclude environmental groups from the review process for potential oilsands developments in spite of a recent court decision calling the policy into question (NJ). Cleanup of a continuing leak at an oilsands site near Cold Lake, Alberta, is 80% complete and the company responsible, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., says avoiding future leaks is a priority (NJ). Further north in the Northwest Territories, fracking opponents are pushing back against a government decision to make disclosure of fracking fluids by oil and gas companies voluntary and not obligatory (NJ).

The plan to ship oil to the Hudson Bay by rail has been postponed as the railway company Omnitrax has faced opposition from local communities concerning the safety of the company’s tracks and the oil terminal in Churchill (iPolitics). Friction has also developed between Omnitrax and the Ontario provincial government over legislation to establish a new development agency for the Port of Churchill that does not include Omnitrax even though it owns the port (Winnipeg Free Press).

In British Columbia, TransCanada is looking to invest CND 1.67 billion to expand its gas pipeline network in the province (CBC).



The World Meteorological Organization confirmed that provisional figures for 2013 make it the seventh warmest year since records began in 1850 (Guardian).

Last Wednesday, November 20, the Arctic Council released its statement to the Warsaw Climate Change Conference - UNFCCC COP XIX (Arctic Council). In response, the WWF voiced regret that the Council’s statement does not take up the issues of drilling for hydrocarbons in the Arctic offshore or the reduction of greenhouse gases (WWF).

A research team of the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last week, demonstrating the dramatic decline of sea ice cover over the past 150 years. By examining the tree ring-like growth layers of a long-lived rock-like organism called coralline algae which is widely distributed in the Arctic Ocean, the team was able to reconstruct the extent of ice cover during the algae’s life-span of 650 years (CBC). For more details, watch the university’s short video or have a look at the photographs (UTM).

A study published in the journal Climatic Change (download the paper here) finds that the climate crisis can be mostly attributed to 90 companies, which are responsible for two thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution. The companies include well-known names such as Chevron, Exxon and BP (Guardian).

A factor contributing to climate change, although in a clearly different manner than the above-mentioned companies, are small thaw ponds in Arctic permafrost. This is the conclusion from the field study conducted by Canada's National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS) in the northern Nunavut territory's Sirmilik National Park (NWN). Another factor to take into account is storms in the Arctic. A research team studied the East Siberian Arctic Shelf and found that storms there can lead to greater methane release than previously thought (Climate Central). The article was recently published in Nature Geoscience.

Whereas last week Aleksander Frolov, head of Russia’s Agency on Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, stated that global warming will have a greater impact on Russia than any other country (BO), the negative impacts of global warming are also clearly visible in some of Canada’s northern communities (HP). The Arctic ice melt is further likely to affect India’s climate, in particular the monsoon system (Deccan Chronicle).

Flora and fauna

The Commission for Environmental Co-operation (CEC) set up by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico under the North America Free Trade Agreement is calling for an investigation into Canada’s decision to offer only limited protection to polar bears, listing them as a “species of special concern” in 2011. The U.S. listed polar bears as an endangered species in 2008 (Guardian). Meanwhile, the Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) of the IUCN Species Survival Commission warns against the dangers of tourism for the animals (PBSG). In a program that aims at facilitating the breeding of polar bears, The Cincinnati Zoo in the U.S. has trained the two-year-old beagle “Elvis” to detect whether a polar bear is pregnant. His sniffing tests are 97% accurate (AD).

For other species, the changing climate has been an opportunity for expansion, enabling invasive species to gain a foothold in the Arctic. These invasives also benefit from increased human traffic in the Arctic which provides a convenient means of transport. However, those invasive species have the potential to disrupt fragile local ecosystems (The Ecologist).
Scientists in the nature reserve in the Krasnoyarsk region, central Siberia, used satellite collars to study the migration patterns of reindeer. During the observation period, some of the animals covered distances up to 1700 km (around 1060 miles) (AIR, in Russian). Those collars might also help to find escaped or stolen reindeer. Nearly 1500 domestic reindeer have been reported missing in the Oleneksky Yakutia region. However, search flights have yielded no results (AIR, in Russian).

Expeditions & research blogs

The University of Washington has resumed its research flights to monitor conditions near the North Pole. The scientist had feared that the long-planned mission would have to be cancelled due to the U.S. government shutdown (UW).

On sea, the U.S. Coast Guard collaborates with NOAA to survey and chart the U.S. waters in the Arctic (NOAA).


Speaking at the 2013 Halifax International Security Forum, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel unveiled the Department of Defense’s first Arctic Strategy. In his remarks, Secretary Hagel laid out U.S interests in the region – and how the Department of Defense would work to attain them. He also emphasized the need and opportunity for cooperation between nations, the public and private sectors, and federal and local government (NYTimes, Marine Corps Times, Reuters, US News and World Report, ABCNews, and AIR). Hagel also acknowledged that the Navy is currently examining ways to increase operational capabilities in the region and is working towards the completion of an Arctic Road Map that will examine what investments, technology, and doctrine will be needed to execute the Navy’s mission in the region. (DODBuzz,, PBS and CBC). Canadian Defense Minister Rob Nicholson welcomed the news, stating that the Pentagon’s strategy is “entirely consistent” with the Canadian strategy (Herald News).

Secretary Hagel’s full remarks are available on

United States

The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission issued an immediate press release welcoming Sec. Hagel’s remarks and the Department of Defense’s new strategy for the Arctic.

General Dynamics reports that two ‘two-channel manpack systems’ have successfully completed secure voice and data calls from within the Arctic Circle, using the Mobile User Objective System satellite and ground communications network (DefenceTalk).


The autumn conscription campaign has begun in Arkhangelsk, with some 130 new recruits off to serve in the Russian Arctic. The conscription campaign will continue through December (AIR).


This week features two excellent analysis of Canada’s Arctic capabilities: from Frontline Defense comes an extremely thorough analysis of Canada’s SAR capabilities in the Arctic; meanwhile, Ken Hansen, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University, takes an in-depth look at the history, role, and future of the Canadian Coast Guard (Vanguard).

Canada’s ongoing procurement troubles are examined at, as the nation awaits next week’s expected auditor general’s report on the over-budget national shipbuilding strategy.



The troubled Finnish mining company Talvivaara is managing to keep its head above water even though several company stakeholders decided not to provide EUR 40 million in emergency funds while the company goes through a supervised restructuring. Instead, the company says it can carry on having identified cost-cutting and production-boosting measures to fill the gap (AD).


Along with mining investment across the north, mineral exploration in Yukon has dropped from CND 300 million in 2011 to CND 45 million in 2013 in response to falling commodity prices (YN). Representatives from Yukon’s three producing mines “talked shop” at the Yukon Geoscience Forum last week. A top issue of concern was soaring personnel costs. The three companies spent CND 8 million this year just flying personnel back and forth to their mine sites (YN).

The collapse of a retaining wall at an abandoned mine on 31 October has sent a plume of contaminated water into the Athabasca River in Alberta that is slowly making its way down river and towards the Northwest Territories (CBC). Alberta’s provincial government has warned that the community water treatment facilities should stop using Athabasca River water when the plume is near and has called on the mine’s owner, Sherritt International, to finance the cleanup (CBC). Sherritt has set up a website with current information on the spill and is assessing the cost of cleanup (CBC). Dr. David Schindler of the University of Alberta says in the long run the spill will probably have minimal impacts on human health downstream, but it should be a wake-up call to the wider public as oilsands development across Alberta have left behind much larger and more toxic tailings ponds behind similar dykes (NJ). The Dene Nation in the Northwest Territories is calling on the federal government to improve its response time and management of such incidents in the future (CBC).

In Canada’s eastern Arctic, Baffinland Iron Mines has begun training local residents to help prepare them for employment at the their Mary River iron mine, focusing particularly on the stresses of the fly-in/fly-out work schedule (Press Release).


Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., the company left holding the bag on the controversial Pebble mine after Anglo American withdrew earlier this year, is confident that it will be able to find new investors to fund the project, according to the company’s CEO (FNM).

A well-researched article by Ron Bonnel in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner explores the mining history of a small, dilapidated cabin that now sits on Bureau of Land Management land in interior Alaska (FNM).



Let’s start with an article and a short video by Oceans North International on the protection of fisheries in the High Arctic (Oceans North).

In Nunavut, Canada, Fisheries and Oceans raised next year’s quota for turbot fishing (EOTA).
More pictures of the mysterious fish featuring a toothy mouth and a venomous spine, which was identified last week as a long-nosed chimaera (CBC), can be found here (Mirror).

An interesting clash of interests erupted in Russia after the government issued decree number 1196 – P that allows the processing of fish directly on board of fishing vessels. This has disturbed local onshore processors as it cuts into their business. At a meeting between fishermen, processors and regulators last week, fish prices were discussed and the Agriculture Ministry was asked to exclude cod and haddock from list of species that can be processed on ships (BN).


Lloyd’s Register Foundation funds the establishment of an international Research Center of Excellence in Arctic Shipping and Operations, which will be headed by Aalto University. Helsinki University, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Memorial University of Newfoundland will also participate in the research (ML).

Russia’s Maritime Register of Shipping and the Korean Register have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for technical cooperation on icebreakers and LNG (Seatrade Global).

The Arkhangelsk Trawl Fleet is up for sale. The official agent for privatization, Gazprombank, received the final bids last week. The company “Virma” of the Northwest fishing industry consortium offered RUB 2.2 billion (USD 67 million or EUR 49 million) (AIR, in Russian).

The sealift vessel MV Avataq of Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping will be featured in an episode of “Mighty Ships” on the Discovery Channel this Friday, November 29 (CBC). 

Norway’s offshore yards are going through difficult times. They have already lost several construction contracts to Asian yards in the last years (AB). By contrast, the Ulstein shipyard in western Norway seems to be riding the crest of a wave. Earlier this month it signed another contract with Island Ventures II LLC for the delivery of an advanced subsea construction vessel with a value of over NOK 1.1 billion (USD 164 million or EUR 121 million) (AB).

Other business and economic news

In his research paper “Some like it warmer”, Solange Le Jeune, analyst at the asset management company Schroders, explores the business opportunities and challenges associated with a changing climate in the Arctic (Schroders).

Despite an overall increase in retail sales in Canada, they dropped by 9.2% in the NWT, by 6.2% in Nunavut and by 5.9% in Yukon (CBC). However, this is not necessarily a reason to worry. According to the Conference Board of Canada's Territorial Outlook, Canada’s three northern territories will grow significantly faster than most other regions over the next few years (G&M).

In Russia, the world’s biggest aluminium producer Kandalaksha has high hopes for its unit in the southern part of Murmansk Oblast and looks to the production of aluminium wires, while it is cutting production and closing plants in other sites (BO). In order to improve the economy of the Murmansk region, Governor Marina Kovtun proposed tax breaks for Arctic businesses at a conference on the development of Murmansk (BN).

Coca Cola, in cooperation with WWF, champions the protection of one of its icons, the polar bear, in a campaign called “Arctic Home.” Part of the campaign involves supporting polar bear research. On the program’s website you can meet four of the bears that have been tagged and tracked as part of the project, creatively named N26135, N23637, N26132, and N26153 (Arctic Home).

The Icelandic company Aqua Omnis wants to make use of the country’s abundant spring water resources and export it around the world in supertankers (AJ).


Hunting and trapping-related articles studded Canadian societal news this week. The Northwest Territories reported its “best trapping season in decades” (NJ), and Up Here Magazine published two hunting and trapping related pieces – a story on Manitoba, Canada’s Thompson Fur Table and a profile of Earl Evans, a Fort Smith Métis elder and “one of the North’s greatest hunters.” Writer Derryl Murphy plays homage to the hunt by publishing entries from his grandfather’s travel diaries on Twitter under the username “TrapperBud” (NJ).

Murphy is not alone in his celebration of the past. Twenty-five million quarters were issued this week in Canada, half to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Arctic Expedition (The Sacramento Bee), and the other half featuring belugas and a bowhead whale designed by Cape Dorset artist Tim Pitsiulak (CBC). Parks Canada’s book on the HMS Investigator was also released this week (Gov’t of Canada, click here to watch the Globe and Mail’s video on the discovery of the wreck), and Epicenter Press’s “Arctic Bush Pilot” offers “a fascinating look at mid-century commercial flying in Alaska” (AD). Fans of “Flying Wild Alaska” take note!

Delving even further into the past, scientists at the University of Copenhagen studied the DNA of a 24,000-year-old eastern Siberian boy, finding unanticipated similarities to both Native Americans and Western Europeans (NYT). In Alaska, Jon Hardes, an archeologist for the National Parks Service, is blogging about his discoveries as a way of encouraging locals to bring in any old bones that they find for identification (AD).

A state of emergency was declared in Attawapiskat, Ontario, Canada after a fire in the First Nations community devastated a series of temporary housing trailers (CBC). Seventy people were evacuated by air. In Kotlik, Alaska, residents are returning to their homes after a recent storm, although lingering problems of damaged heating, water, and sewage systems persist (FNM). Across the Arctic, the North’s Filipino diaspora and northerners from Nuuk to Reykjavík to Whitehorse continue to contribute typhoon relief to the Philippines (CBC, Foreign Policy Blogs).

Canada’s Auditor General released a report finding that Nunavut is falling behind in its implementation of the Nunavut Education Act (EOTA). In particular, the report found that schools hadn’t done enough to fulfill the bill’s promise of bilingual education for all students by 2019.

In Iqaluit, Nunavut, the trial of former Nunavut missionary and Belgian national Eric DeJaeger brought back memories of gruesome abuse for victims (NP), and a jury in Bethel, Alaska acquitted a man accused of sexually abusing his daughter and stepdaughters last week (AD).



For those who read Danish, KNR examines a Danish project to launch a small satellite constellation to be used in monitoring the Arctic.


The Archangelsk-based airline Nordavia has been put up for sale, with offers sent to Russian airlines Utair and Aeroflot, among others. The airline was bought by Norilsk-Nickel in 2011 for USD 7 million, and is the only airline to offer the exclusive east-west connection between Arkhangelsk and Tromsø (BO).

United States

Alaska Dispatch looks at the role of planes in rural Alaska, where they are frequently used to travel extremely short distances because of the lack of roads.


The appropriately-named Ice Wireless has launched the first 3G data network in Iqaluit. CEO Samer Bishay has expressed an interest in continuing to expand coverage to some of Canada’s more remote areas (CBC).


Not a read, but check out this video of Stefan Lindstedt surfing in the Arctic off of Norway (


Yukon-News profiles the hockey talent coming out of Yukon, which has players in leagues across Canada and the United States.

Fans in Yellowknife were treated to one of the most exciting Challenge Cups in years; with the end of the games too came the end of this year’s hockey season (NJ).


Check out some great photography – ranging from glaciers to sled-dogs – of Svalbard at Life Through a Lens.

United States

As Fairbanks ramps up for the March Arctic Winter Games, Eielson AFB is promoting the events as an opportunity to get involved with the community and a “uniquely Alaskan event” by volunteering (Eielson).

A settlement has been reached in the civil case surrounding the accidental death of a Swiss man who perished on Mount McKinley in 2011 (FNM).

Check out this account of an expedition across Alaska’s North Slope at Alaska Dispatch.


This week’s standalone shots include Arctic Council Photography Contest winner “The Majestic Eagle,” sun shots from Instagram users ecojackiejo and kabanihin, and twitpics of Iceland from Dubie Bacino, Arctic biking from Matt Binkley and Gazprom’s Vladislav Strizhov from GP Arctic Watch.

Up Here posted the winners of its annual photo contest, The Northern Journal posted shots from the Love the Land photo contest, Timothy Hughes posted “23 Epic Photos of Remarkable Arctic Ice,” Life in Lapland posted a series of photos explaining the polar night, and Weather Underground posted a series of vintage Arctic exploration photos which are worth a look-see.

This week’s videos include “Reindeer Wrangling,” an Icelandic time-lapse titled “Melancholia,” and Episode 8 of the Dark Ice Project.


Ever wondered where the most extreme toilet in the world is? See this article for a worthy candidate, complete with pictures from all four seasons (ST). Some odd wildlife encounters were reported this week. A pack of wild boars surrounded a man’s car in Sweden after he struck and killed several of the boars while a family of moose surrounded and attacked a schoolboy, also in Sweden (AD). In a friendly encounter, two humanitarians in Newfoundland saved a beached Greenland shark by removing a large chunk of moose meat from the animal’s throat (AD). Indie icon Bonnie “Prince” Billy recorded a version of his song “Black Captain” in support of the Greenpeace Captain and Arctic 30 prisoner Peter Wilcox. The video, available on Youtube, is a must-see if you, like this author, are a Will Oldham fan. No matter where you stand on the question of polar bear-grizzly hybrids, we can all probably agree that “Grolar” is a much better name than “Pizzly” for these new beasts. See this fantastic article by Kelsey Eliasson for Up Here Magazine about the “Grolars” and the author’s quest into the Canadian Arctic to catch a glimpse of one.

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