Arcticportal News
Moscow chosen over NSR-cities
Shipping News
Thursday, 03 January 2013 10:08

Click to expand. The Northern Sea Route. The light blue is the EEZ of the Arctic states and the green-blue color is the ice extent on September 16th 2012. Map from the Arctic Portal Mapping system. Click to expand. The Northern Sea Route. The light blue is the EEZ of the Arctic states and the green-blue color is the ice extent on September 16th 2012. Map from the Arctic Portal Mapping system.Russia has decided to host the administration for the Northern Sea Route in its capital, Moscow. The new headquarters will open late January this year.


The Deputy Transport Minister of Russia, Viktor Olersky, said to RIA Novosti that a draft of the resolution has been made and it is being coordinated by federal agencies. The BarentsObserver states that both Murmansk and Arkhangelsk lost the fight for hosting the administration, after looking for having it in its respective cities for years.


The reason given for choosing Moscow, instead of either of the two harbor cities in the route is "in order not to offend anyone". Olersky also said that a branch could be opened later in Arkhangelsk.

He said that although concerns may rise that Moscow is not at the sea route that it was a good location as the Emergency Situations Ministry was in Moscow, as well as other big companies and organizations who work and employ in the areas.


The state owned enterprise will have a budget of 35 million Rubles. Only for days prior to the decision by Olersky, the Governor of Arkhangelsk Igor Orlov said that Arkhangelsk was ready to open a NSR office that would handle all practical tasks connected to traffic on the route – applications to use the route, coordination with the Agency on Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, use of Arctic aviation and so on.


In 2012 total cargo transported through the Northern Sea Route was 1.261.545 tons, an increase of over 50 percent from 2011. The total number of ships also increased from 34 in 2011 to 46 in 2012, compared to only 4 in 2010.



{mosmap address='Russia'| zoom='4'|}

No oil leak from stranded rig
Energy News
Wednesday, 02 January 2013 10:44

Photo: (Jonathan Klingenberg/U.S. Coast Guard) Photo: (Jonathan Klingenberg/U.S. Coast Guard)An oil rig stranded in severe storms near the island Kodiak in Anchorage, Canada. No oil is leaking from the rig.

The drillship is called Kulluk, owned by Royal Dutch Shell. The US coastguard was concerned about any leak but overflights confirmed that no leak has occurred.

Coast Guard Captain Paul Mehler said the Kulluk had 143,000 gallons of ultra-low-sulfur diesel and 12,000 gallons of other oil products on board.

The grounding of the drillship, weighing nearly 28,000 gross tons and operated by Noble Corp, is a blow to Shell's $4.5 billion offshore program in Alaska.

The rig had been headed to Puget Sound for maintenance and upgrades when it broke away from one of its tow lines on Monday afternoon and was driven to rocks just off Kodiak Island that night. The 18-member crew had already been evacuated by the Coast Guard on Saturday because of risks from the storm.

With winds reported at up to 60 miles (100 km) an hour and Gulf of Alaska seas of up to 35 feet (11 m), responders were unable to keep the ship from grounding, the Coast Guard said.

Sean Churchfield, operations manager for Shell Alaska, could not explain why the Kulluk had been caught in the weather. "I can't give you a specific answer, but I do not believe we would want to tow it in these sorts of conditions."

Susan Childs, emergency incident commander for Shell, believed that a significant spill was unlikely because of the Kulluk's design, with diesel fuel tanks isolated in the center of the vessel and encased in very heavy steel.

Shell is waiting for weather to moderate to begin a complete assessment of the Kulluk.



{mosmap address='Kodiac Island, Anchorage'|zoom='4'|}

Environmental concerns for caribou
Energy News
Friday, 28 December 2012 10:28

Chinese icebreaker Xuelong. The project requires a port to sail through the Arctic Ocean (Photo: Hjalti Hreinsson - Arctic Portal) Chinese icebreaker Xuelong. The project requires a port to sail through the Arctic Ocean (Photo: Hjalti Hreinsson - Arctic Portal)Canada is set to look into a mining project to be funded by China. Four federal ministers will come together to decide how to conduct an environmental review for the Izok Corridor proposal.


It could bring many billions of dollars into the Arctic but would also see development of open-pit mines, roads, ports and other facilities in the centre of calving grounds for the fragile Bathurst caribou herd.

"This is going to be the biggest issue," said Sally Fox, a spokesperson for proponent MMG Minerals, a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned Minmetals Resources Ltd.


It would be hard to exaggerate the proposal's scope. Centred at Izok Lake, about 260 kilometres southeast of Kugluktuk, the project would stretch throughout a vast swath of western Nunavut.


Izok Lake would have five separate underground and open-pit mines producing lead, zinc and copper. Another site at High Lake, 300 kilometres to the northeast, would have another three mines.


MMG also wants a processing plant that could handle 6,000 tonnes of ore a day, tank farms for 35 million litres of diesel, two permanent camps totalling 1,000 beds, airstrips and a 350-kilometre all-weather road with 70 bridges that would stretch from Izok Lake to Grays Bay on the central Arctic coast.


MMG plans a port there that could accommodate ships of up to 50,000 tonnes that would make 16 round trips a year — both east and west — through the Northwest Passage.


Izok Lake would be drained, the water dammed and diverted to a nearby lake. Three smaller lakes at High Lake would also be drained. Grays Bay would be substantially filled in.


The result would be a project producing 180,000 tonnes of zinc and another 50,000 tonnes of copper a year.


The four ministers, of Northern Development, Transport, Natural Resources and Fisheries and Oceans — have three choices. They can send the project back to MMG and ask for changes, they can choose to let the board run hearings itself or they can decide the project's effects would be broad enough to require the involvement of other governments in hearings.



{mosmap address='Kugluktuk, Nunavut'|zoom='2'|}

Canadian sea bed camera
Other News
Thursday, 27 December 2012 09:08

View from the camera (Photo: CBS) View from the camera (Photo: CBS)An underwater monitor station has been installed on the Canadian Arctic sea floor, near Cambridge Bay in Nunavut. It allows for live views of the sea bed. Installation was in the hands of Ocean Networks Canada, based at the University of Victoria.

Dr. Kim Juniper said the observatory is already generating interest among scientists who want to use the site for their own work.

"Essentially using what we've put in there as a basis to provide some background for some other research," he said.

Juniper said it's a preview to the kind of work expected at the High Arctic Research Station, which is expected to open in 2017.

So far, the mini-observatory has caught shrimp and fish on camera, and has recorded ice thickening at the rate of one centimetre a day.

Beth Sampson, a science teacher at Kiilnik High School in Cambridge Bay, said it's the kind of real-life science that appeals to her as a teacher.

"It also has a video camera on it, so it's live-streaming data, and you'll be able to see things that live in the water that might be swimming past or crawling past on the ocean floor. So it's exciting to be able to see a side of the ocean that we don't see from the surface."

Sampson's Grade 11 biology students got the see the apparatus before it went under water. She is now working on a plan to use the data in science projects next school term.

The underwater observatory is a scaled-down version of similar observatories in seafloor networks off the coast of Vancouver Island.






{mosmap address='Camebridge Bay, Canada'|zoom='2'|}

Amazing Mt. Everest photo
Climate Change News
Friday, 21 December 2012 14:29

The Mt. Everest photo (Photo: David Breashears) The Mt. Everest photo (Photo: David Breashears)David Breashears has released a stunning picture of Mount Everest to show effect of climate change on the world's highest peak. It is over 3,8 million pixels and stitched together from 477 photographs.


The photo can bee seen below and is also available here.

Filmmaker David Breashears and nonprofit organization GlacierWorks worked on the project together and he is now working with Microsoft on an even more detailed version.

This version allows users to zoom in and also show before and after pictures from the area since 1921.

"It's just extraordinary and we're so excited by that image, and people love clicking on things and zooming in," he said.

"We want to tell the bigger story of climate change in the area, and we are working with Microsoft and the Royal Geographical Society on this."

The team eventually hope to develop a far larger version of the image so detailed users can actually zoom inside tents at base camp.

"Just 1/100th of our imagery is on the site, and the storytelling possibilities are incredible - people love to move things," said Breashears, who has climbed Everest five times.

"It started out as a simple concept, and every time we visit we find out more - this is not even the tip of the iceberg, we want to take people all over the mountain with 120,000 pictures from a helicopter in the region. We are building this with Microsoft, and we could soon be able to combine the old and new pictures so people can virtually 'swipe' images to see how they looked in the past."





{mosmap address='mt. everest, Nepal'|zoom='2'|}

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