Arcticportal News
Canada meets Sweden for Arctic Council
Other News
Monday, 17 December 2012 09:48

Leona Aglukkaq and Carl Bildt at the press conference held after their meeting. (Photo: Arctic Council - Catarina Axelsson/MFA) Photo: Leona Aglukkaq and Carl Bildt at the press conference held after their meeting. (Photo: Arctic Council - Catarina Axelsson/MFA)Canada will take over chairmanship in the Arctic Council in May 2013 from Sweden. The two countries have close cooperation for a smooth process when Canada takes its second chair of the council.

Established in 1996, all eight Arctic States have held the Chair for the Arctic Council, with Sweden now completing the round.

Sweden Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt met Canada's Minister for the Arctic Council Leona Aglukkaq last week. Canada will serve as chair under Ms. Aglukkaq's leadership, for the period 2013–2015. The work of the Arctic Council to protect the environment from oil spills, and Canada's plans for its upcoming Chairmanship, were discussed at the meeting.

Ms. Aglukkaq is now visiting the member states to introduce herself as the person who will lead Canada's two-year chairmanship period. Tuesday it was the turn of Sweden and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Carl Bildt.

"We have worked to become more visible globally with regard to climate change, and to draw attention to the fact that climate change is occurring twice as fast in the Arctic than in the rest of the world. Awareness of this is now much greater in the global debate. This must be translated into political action, which takes a little longer. But I think we have made progress, for example on the issue of black carbon in the Arctic." said Mr. Bildt.

"Our priorities focus on development for people in the north: responsible resource development, safe shipping and sustainable circumpolar communities. The final priorities will be finalised when consensus has been reached in the Arctic Council at the Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna in May," said Ms. Aglukkaq.

During its chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2011–2013, Sweden has worked to strengthen environmental protection during oil exploration in the Arctic. This has been achieved by developing safety standards based on best practice in the industry and negotiating an international agreement on cooperation in the event of oil spills. Sweden has also led efforts to establish the new permanent secretariat of the Arctic Council in Tromsø, Norway, which will open in May 2013, the Arctic Council website says.



{mosmap address='Stockholm, Sweden'|zoom='4'|}

Iceland to establish a national oil fund
Energy News
Friday, 14 December 2012 11:04

President Grímsson has been instrumental in Iceland's Arctic development (Photo: Hjalti Þór - Arctic Portal) President Grímsson has been instrumental in Iceland's Arctic development (Photo: Hjalti Þór - Arctic Portal)The president of Iceland has announced that the country plans to set up a national wealth fund to safeguard revenue from potential oil discoveries as it opens up to exploration.

The Dreki area will be explored further next year and high hopes are that reserves will be found in the area.

Iceland has no history of oil exploration and no national oil wealth exists.

Faroe Petroleum Plc (FPM), Valiant Petroleum Plc (VPP) and Petoro AS will be the first foreign explorers to search Icelandic waters for oil and gas. They are betting that the geology matches that of the Shetland Islands, where BP Plc and Total SA are drilling, according to Faroe.

"Since we look at this resource as a national wealth, there will be a national wealth fund that would be established, but this is more of a general policy at this time," Grimsson said in an interview with Bloomberg in London this week. Explorers "have to do their work. It will take some years."

Icelandis already working with the member states of the Arctic Council to prevent oil spills in the North Atlantic and share equipment and technology for search and rescue operations.

Future oil industry regulations will be "within the framework of the Nordic as well as European cooperation," Grimsson said. They will be modeled on Iceland's geothermal and hydropower industry, he said.


{mosmap address='Akureyri, Iceland'|zoom='5'|}

Electronic Memories in St. Petersburg
Other News
Thursday, 13 December 2012 11:17

The beautiful St. Petersburg hosts the EMA conference. The Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, also known as Savior-on-the-blood. (Photo: GettyImages) The beautiful St. Petersburg hosts the EMA conference. The Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, also known as Savior-on-the-blood. (Photo: GettyImages)St. Petersburg in Russia celebrates Arctic Days in December where the highlight is the conference "Electronic Memory of the Arctic – cultural communications of the circumpolar world".

The Conference has been organized by the joint effort of the National Library of Russia (NLR), Nonprofit partnership Center for the Preservation of Cultural and Historical Heritage "Electronic Memory of the Arctic" (NPP EMA), Center of International and Inter-regional Collaboration and is an important step towards creation of the "International Scientific Multifunctional Arctic Center in Salekhard."


December 12-15th are the Arctic Days, under support of the Arctic Council, RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs, RF Ministry of Culture and the Russian Geographical Society.


The major event is the First international scientific and practical conference "Electronic Memory of the Arctic" taking place now on the premises of the National Library of Russia.


The event is marked by the presence of the leading establishments of the world-wide Arctic community, including Arctic Council Secretariat, University of the Arctic (Norway-Russia), (Iceland), Arctic Centre (University of Lapland), The Academy of Finland, Foundation for Siberian Cultures, Scott Polar Research Institute (University of Cambridge), as well as of the representatives of the national libraries and archives of the Arctic Council countries, inter alia The National Library of Norway, The Sámi Archives (Norway), The Yukon Archives (Canada) and others.


The Russian scientific community is to be represented by more than 20 institutions, among which there are The Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences, The Russian State Historical Archives, The Institute of the Peoples of the North (Herzen University), MGU, StPGU and other large specialised organisations.


The Arctic days will see many interesting presentations and working sessions, click here to see the conference program.


Arctic Report Card 2012 is out
Climate Change News
Thursday, 13 December 2012 08:39

The Arctic Report Card is out (Photo: GettyImages) The Arctic Report Card is out (Photo: GettyImages)The Arctic Report Cards produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are a source of reliable and brief information on the current state of the Arctic environment. The Arctic Council working groups CAFF and AMAP supported work on the 2012 Report Cards, which detail dramatic changes in the Arctic with record losses of sea ice and late spring snow.

The Arctic Council, through the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) and the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna's (CAFF) Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme (CBMP), has contributed to the Arctic Report Card, an annual report released today by NOAA that monitors the often-quickly changing conditions in the Arctic.

Click here to go to the Reports website. 

Full report is available here.

The peer-reviewed report contains contributions from 141 authors from 15 countries. For this year's issue CAFF's CBMP developed and edited the terrestrial and marine ecosystem chapters in cooperation with others, while AMAP organized an independent peer-review process involving international experts.

The Arctic region continued to break records in 2012—among them the loss of summer sea ice, spring snow cover, and melting of the Greenland ice sheet. This was true even though air temperatures in the Arctic were unremarkable relative to the last decade, according to the report.

Major findings include:

Snow cover: A new record low snow extent for the Northern Hemisphere was set in June 2012, and a new record low was reached in May over Eurasia.

Sea ice: Minimum Arctic sea ice extent in September 2012 set a new all-time record low, as measured by satellite since 1979.

Greenland ice sheet:
There was a rare, nearly ice sheet-wide melt event on the Greenland ice sheet in July, covering about 97 percent of the ice sheet on a single day.

The tundra is getting greener and there's more above-ground growth. During the period of 2003-2010, the length of the growing season increased through much of the Arctic.

Wildlife and food chain:
In northernmost Europe, the Arctic fox is close to extinction and vulnerable to the encroaching Red fox. Additionally, massive phytoplankton blooms below the summer sea ice suggest estimates of biological production at the bottom of the marine food chain may be ten times too low.

Sea surface temperatures in summer continue to be warmer than the long-term average at the growing ice-free margins, while upper ocean temperature and salinity show significant interannual variability with no clear trends.

Most of the notable weather activity in fall and winter occurred in the sub-Arctic due to a strong positive North Atlantic Oscillation. There were three extreme weather events including an unusual cold spell in late January to early February 2012 across Eurasia, and two record storms characterized by very low central pressures and strong winds near western Alaska in November 2011 and north of Alaska in August 2012.



{mosmap address='Nuuk, Greenland'|zoom='2'|}

Svalbard for petroleum activities?
Energy News
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 09:22

From Longyearbyen (Photo: GettyImages) From Longyearbyen (Photo: GettyImages)The Norwegian government is looking into the possibility of using Svalbard for oil and gas infrastructure. The unique nature of Svalbard has until now been thought to fragile for any kind of petroleum work.

The increased petroleum activities in the northern seas are reaching Svalbard but it is said to be influenced heavily by geopolitics, politics, commercial interests and environmental protection.

The Norwegian Ministry of Environment has asked for Svalbard to be evaluated as a world heritage site by UNESCO.


In relation to that work, it will be assessed what impacts it would have on Svalbard to be any kind of use for petroleum activities in the northern Barents sea, these include logistics, supply, and land bases, says Eldbjørg Waage Melberg from the oil ministry.

Oil analyst and former Secretary of State for Petroleum and Energy, Hans Henrik Ramm, believes it will be a huge mistake to look away from new business opportunities on Svalbard.

„You must use balance different interests, including industrial opportunities. It is not reasonable to adopt protective measures to limit future choices, especially if it involves the transfer of decision making from Norway, as one does by seeking World Heritage status," says Ramm.

Norway produces coal in Svalbard but tourism and research are high on the agenda on the archipelago, as well as the Svalbard University Center. 



{mosmap address='Longyearbyen, Svalbard'|zoom='2'|}

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