Arcticportal News
Bárðarbunga: possible eruption
Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 08:52

Vatnajokull seen by the road (Source:wikipedia.org)An intense seismic activity at Bárðarbunga (Vatnajokull area)  has started on 16 of Agust. During the past 3 days, thousand of  earthquakes in the area have been registred. The Icelandic Metereological Office (IMO) reports that very strong indications of ongoing magma movement, in connection with dyke intrusion, is corroborated by GPS measurements. There are currently two swarms: one to the E of Bárðarbunga caldera and one at the edge of Dyngjujökull just E of Kistufell. At 2.37 am on the 18th a strong earthquake (M4) was located in the Kistufell swarm.This is the strongest earthquake measured in the region since 1996. As evidence of magma movement shallower than 10 km implies increased potential of a volcanic eruption, the Bárðarbunga aviation color code has been changed to orange. Presently there are no signs of eruption, but it cannot be excluded that the current activity will result in an explosive subglacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood (jökulhlaup) and ash emission. The situation is monitored closely.

The "Aviation color code map"  (issued by the Icelandic Meteorological Office, in accordance with recommended International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) procedures) shows the current status of Icelandic volcanic systems: Bárðarbunga is now labeled orange, "Volcano shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption".

Four years after  Eyjafjallajokull blew, disrupting European air travel and costing $ 1.7 billion (accordingly to Reuters),  there are chances that Bárðarbunga may affect again European aviation. Scientists said Monday there are two scenarios: one is an explosion outside the Vatnajokull glacier, leading to minor ash emissions and troubles locally (in the meanwhile Icelandic autorities have closed the roads around the area, due to possible floodings as consequence of ice-melting due to underground magma movements).

The second possibility is an eruption occurring inside the glaciar. Seismologis5t Martin Hensch says the latter could lead to ash being sent high into the atmosphere. 

Source: IMO, The Washington Post. 

 

 
US & Arctic Council: call for ideas
Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Monday, 18 August 2014 09:22

The newly appointed U.S. special Arctic representative, former Coast Guard Commandant Robert Papp, has issued a call for ideas about policies that should be promoted at the Arctic Council once the United States assumes chairmanship of that eight-nation body next year.

 

Mount McKinley (Alaska). (Source: Wikipedia.org) A major goal for him, as he prepares for the two-year U.S. chairmanship, is convincing the American public that the Arctic is important to the nation, Papp said at a listening session Thursday in Anchorage.

 

 

Heather Hudson, professor of public policy at the University of Alaska Anchorage, cited telecommunications as a potential focus of the Arctic Council. The council, under U.S. leadership, could promote improvements in broadband communications and work to expand telemedicine, distance education and other communications-based services that would improve lives in remote parts of the Arctic.

 

Regional energy development should be a major focus of the Arctic Council under U.S. leadership, said others.

 

“Life in communities is going to be really hard to continue without some relief from the current energy regime that we’re in,” said Matt Ganley of the Bering Straits Native Corp. Without some changes to energy supply, local economic development is not possible, he said. He cited his corporation's efforts to reopen the Rock Creek gold mine near Nome. The corporation’s studies have found that energy costs would eat up 40 percent of the per-ounce gold-production expenses, he said.

 

Meera Kohler, president of the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, had a similar message. “The Arctic is incredibly energy-rich. Yet the citizens of Alaska are energy-poor,” she told Papp and his delegation.

 

Food security should be a priority of the Arctic Council, some told Papp.

A common message from those advising Papp: The Arctic Council needs to make sure that it involves and engages the people who live in the Arctic, especially the indigenous people of the circumpolar north. 

 

Source: Alaska Dispatch News

 
SAR Canada: Operation Nanook
Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Friday, 15 August 2014 11:49

 Canada Search and Rescue (source: Wikipedia) Canada Search and Rescue (source: Wikipedia)This yearOperation Nanook, the Canadian military’s largest recurring operation in the North, will run from August 20 to 29, and will focus on Search an Rescue (SAR) operations in the waters off the country’s northern coast, and will feature two exercises. 

In the first, a fishing vessel in the Davis Strait will put in a call for assistance, setting into motion a search and rescue mission that will test military responders’ ability to locate, treat and evacuate the injured fishermen – played convincingly by mannequins.

In the second, and more involved, operation a cruise ship in distress will seek to make an unexpected call on Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut and home to 6,700 people. 

Typically, Operation Nanook is a military exercise, aimed at training members of Canada’s armed forces how to fight in the demanding Arctic terrain. With the search and rescue scenario this year, the operation will involve a number of civilian organisations that observers say will add realism – and an extra layer of complexity – to an already life-like situation. 

While that kind of involvement is appreciated, Ilja Leo Lang, a spokesperson for AECO, an industry group representing small-scale Arctic cruise operators, pointed out that search and rescue in the Arctic, no matter how well planned, was a last line of defence.

“This is an important exercise,” he says, “But we need to make sure ships can rescue their own passengers. There are close to no search and rescue facilities in the Arctic, so we prepare for situations in which we get no help.”

Lang underscored that the exercise appeared to be realistic, but he worried that the attention being placed on rescue efforts undermined confidence in the preparations Arctic cruise operators made well before passengers ever step on board.

“As important as planning for an accident is working to prevent one,” he says. “But exercises like these easily give the impression that operators don’t know what they are doing – or that they haven’t done anything to ensure the safety of passengers. That’s absolutely not the case.”

Cruise operators, he says, carry out rigorous risk assessments in order to minimise the chance of an accident. Governments, he says, should do more to help those efforts. One way would be to inform ships of the positions of other vessels in the area that could help – or which could need help – in the event of an accident. 

Marc Jacobsen, a research associate with the Arctic Institutepublished a paper last year that used data from the Danish military’s 2013 search-and-rescue exercise off the coast of western Greenland to theorise what would happen in the event of an accident involving a ship the size of the Costa Concordia, the Italian cruise ship that ran aground in Italy in 2012.

He said he would be eager to see whether the lessons learned during Operation Nanook would be applicable in other regions.

Like others, he underscored that the exercise would provide valuable training, but questioned whether planners had set the degree of difficulty too low.

Source: Arctic Journal.  

 
OGEL, call for papers
Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Thursday, 14 August 2014 09:08

OIRFP Prirazlomnaya (Photo: OAO Gazprom)OIRFP Prirazlomnaya (Photo: OAO Gazprom)Oil, Gas, and Energy Law Journal invites submissions for a Special Issue on "Emerging issues in Polar Energy Law and Governance" (Guest editor for this special issue is Dr Tina Hunter, Director of the Centre for International Minerals and Energy Law Centre at the University of Queensland, Australia, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland) . 

 

 

The Polar areas provide special challenges, opportunities and restrictions regarding the development of energy resources, particularly oil and gas. The potential for enormous untapped energy reserves and the international law challenges of maritime boundaries borders and competing claims of sovereignty will make the Arctic region home to one of the most compelling sets of international legal issues in the 21st Century. The renegotiation of the Madrid Protocol in the Antarctic, which currently prevents mining in the Antarctic regions, combined with similar issues of competing claims of sovereignty, and the overarching Antarctic Treaty Framework means that potential energy resource development Antarctic region will become increasingly controversial and prominent.

 

 

OGEL encourages submission of relevant papers, studies, and comments on various aspects of this subject. The focus of this Special Polar Issue is the search for and exploitation of energy resources in the polar regions. In particular it seeks to focus on current and emerging legal frameworks within which energy resources will be developed. However, this special edition also seeks submissions of papers and studies addressing the wider topic of the international legal framework for the polar regions.

 

A one-page proposal should be submitted by 15 November 2014. Acceptance will be communicated by 1 December 2015.

Papers should be submitted by 15 March 2015 deadline to Dr Tina Hunter as well as a copy to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

Read more here

 

 

 
NJF Seminar coming soon
Other News
Written by Magdalena Tomasik   
Wednesday, 13 August 2014 09:13

(Photo: Getty Imagies) (Photo: Getty Imagies) NJF Seminar "Reindeer herding and land use management – Nordic perspectives" will take place in Rovaniemi 20-21 October 2014 at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland.


The seminar is organized by the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland, Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute (RKTL), Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Reindeer Herders' Association, Finland and Sámi Educational Centre in Inari, Finland.


This seminar is second in the line of Nordic reindeer husbandry seminars organised in the framework of NJF (Nordic Association of Agricultural Sciences). The organiser of the seminar is a recently established Reindeer Husbandry Section at the NJF (http://www.njf.nu/site/redirect.asp?p=3926), promoting research on reindeer husbandry related issues in the Nordic countries.).


The main focus of the meeting is on issues related to reindeer herding and land use questions in the Nordic reindeer herding area.

 

The aim is to discuss reindeer herding and land use activities at different levels, and to figure out frames not only for sustainable reindeer husbandry but also for sustainable co-management of land use between different interest groups in the Nordic countries, including reindeer herding areas.

 

Also other topics related to reindeer ecology and welfare and cultural and social questions related to reindeer herding are handled.


Click here to read more about the seminar. Click here to submit the abstract (deadline: 18th of August).

 
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