Arcticportal News
Two PhD student positions available
Old News
Monday, 31 October 2011 10:53

stockholm Stockholm University has two vacancies for PhD students for the PAGE 21 project. Both positions are in Physical Geography at the Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.

The first position is within the topic "Age, net accumulation and degree of decomposition of the Eurasian permafrost carbon pool." More information here.

The second one is within the topic "High-resolution mapping of soil organic matter storage and remobilization potential in periglacial landscapes." More information here.

Deadline for both positions is November 20th.

PAGE21 will aim to understand and quantify the vulnerability of permafrost environments to a changing global climate, and to investigate the feedback mechanisms associated with increasing greenhouse gas emissions from permafrost zones. This research will make use of a unique set of Arctic permafrost investigations performed at stations that span the full range of Arctic bioclimatic zones. The project will bring together the best European permafrost researchers and eminent scientists
from Canada, Russia, the USA, and Japan.

UArctic regrets Canada decision
Old News
Thursday, 27 October 2011 14:08

uarctic1 The University of the Arctic has released a statement following the decision by the government of Canada to cut its funding.

The detailed statement quotes its president Lars Kullerud, stating the decision is regrettable, and it means that "at least two of UArctic’s signature programs – the Circumpolar Studies undergraduate program and the north2north student mobility program – now face significant challenges."

As already reported, The Canadian government cut the annual UArctic budget from $700,000 down to about $150,000.

Here is a statement, in full, from the University of the Arctic:
The recent decision by the Government of Canada to dramatically cut funding to the University of the Arctic will have a impact on not only  the ability of Canadian students to participate in UArctic programs,  but also thousands of other students around the circumpolar world who  benefited from them. UArctic has already taken steps, however, to  ensure the continuity of service of programs like Circumpolar Studies. The undergraduate program Circumpolar Studies has a unique history, in  which Canadians and Canadian institutions have played a key role.

The curriculum was developed through the collective efforts of scientists, indigenous experts, and academics from across the circumpolar region who shared a vision that northerners should have a common understanding of the region that derives from their own perspectives, rather than from southern capitals. Much of this work to first develop, and later collective efforts to ensure update and further strengthen local input and quality, has been supported by the Government of Canada, and led by the University of Saskatchewan for UArctic members.

 The value of the work done in Canada can be seen clearly across the  pole in places like Bodø, Norway, Fairbanks, Alaska, Prince George, Thunder Bay and Nunavut in Canada, Rovaniemi, Finland and Yakutsk,  Russia where students who live and study in the North are taught the same Circumpolar Studies Program. At the Northeastern Federal University in Yakutsk, Russia, for example, every first year student  takes BCS100 – Introduction to the Circumpolar World – which resulted  in over 3000 students there learning from the same material as their  colleagues in Canada, Alaska, and the Nordic countries.

The main impact of this cut in funding is that the University of  Saskatchewan, which has provided tremendous support to UArctic by hosting the Undergraduate Office first under Dean Greg Poelzer and most recently under Hayley Hesseln, is no longer financially able to  continue in that role. With USask’s assistance, UArctic is now transitioning the significant work done by the Undergraduate Office to the Northeastern Federal University (NEFU) in Yakutsk, which will take over the hosting of the Undergraduate Office with Claudia Fedorova being named the new dean.

According to Hesseln, the root of the funding decision does not lie in any ill will on the part of the federal or territorial governments, nor certainly from any of the participating institutions, but rather from differing visions of how higher education in Canada’s territorial North should be developed. UArctic President Lars Kullerud agrees, stating that “Canada should pursue a physical university north of 60° – as exists in every other circumpolar country. The experience in other Arctic countries has shown that the best way for northern universities to demonstrate their value and deliver quality and relevant education is through cooperation in the University of the Arctic network. The vast majority of UArctic activities are led by institutions north of 60°. That some in Canada see these options as mutually exclusive has had the unfortunate effect of disrupting agreement between the territorial and federal governments that was the key to ongoing financial support for UArctic in Canada.”

The UArctic International Academic Office (IAO) at Northlands College in LaRonge, Saskatchewan has worked closely with the Undergraduate Office to track students who complete the necessary requirements to earn a ‘Confirmation of Completion’ in Circumpolar Studies. To date, 174 students have graduated with a completion document, including fourteen from Northlands College itself.  Glenys Plunz, Director of IAO, has seen the impact of these graduates up close in her own community in northern Saskatchewan. Plunz notes that, “the significance of the Circumpolar Studies to a student from a small northern community is immeasurable, not only because of the academic achievement, but because the program has special relevance to them as northerners. Such offerings are equally relevant to the provincial North as for the territories.”

Key to the success of these ‘circumpolar classrooms’ is the north2north mobility program. Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Canada has helped coordinate Canadian students to go on student exchanges through north2north to Russia and the Nordic countries.  Lakehead professor Chris Southcott explains, “Canadian participation in north2north is key to the whole program, as it is based on exchanges between different regions of the Circumpolar North. Without  the resources to send a Canadian student to Iceland or Russia, it  becomes difficult for Canadian institutions to accept reciprocal exchanges from partners in those countries.”

Figures from north2north exchanges back Southcott’s assessment, with Canada being the destination of choice for a quarter of all north2north students in 2010.  The elimination of mobility funding in Canada is especially unfortunate when many of Canada’s fellow member-states in the Arctic Council are making student and faculty exchanges an important part of their respective Arctic strategies. A Canadian student who has participated in both programs directly attributes his UArctic experience to his ability to secure his current job as a research analyst in the Canadian North. Harry Borlase, originally from Labrador, explains, “UArctic programs like BCS and north2north combine classroom learning with real life northern living.

It's exactly that combination that paints the big picture and prepares  you for your working career in the North.” UArctic President Lars Kullerud concludes, “The funding decision from Canada is regrettable, and means that at least two of UArctic’s signature programs – the Circumpolar Studies undergraduate program and the north2north student mobility program – now face significant challenges. However, UArctic is a circumpolar community of institutions  committed to cooperation in northern higher education, and will do all it can to support education opportunities in the North. Our Canadian members remain committed with their own resources to continue to be strong partners in this work while we wait for a resolution of the funding impasse in Canada."

The University of the Arctic is a cooperative network of over 130 universities, colleges, and other organizations committed to higher education and research in the North. Our members share resources, facilities, and expertise to build post-secondary education programs that are relevant and accessible to northern students. Our overall goal is to create a strong, sustainable circumpolar region by empowering northerners and northern communities through education and shared knowledge.

1.8 billion for Russian icebreakers
Old News
Thursday, 27 October 2011 14:00

yamal oil Yamal is a Russian icebreakers, soon to be an old one in the Russian fleet. (Photo: BarentsObserver) Yamal is a Russian icebreakers, soon to be an old one in the Russian fleet. (Photo: BarentsObserver)Russia will spend 1,8 billion Euros on four state of the art icebreakers.

The United Shipbuilding Corporation will oversee the build and construction will start next year, in 2012.

The four new icebreakers will be added to another two already in place. A total of six new icebreakers will be in Russian waters in the next years.

Three of the new vessels are to be nuclear powered, the others will have diesel engines.

That is in line with more recent activity in Arctic shipping.

Source: BarentsObserver

Old News
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 14:37

codwar1Icelandic patrol ships nears an English trawler. (Photo: cod wars were political disputes between the governments of Iceland and Britain over fisheries management in the Icelandic maritime waters. The disputes were numerous between the years 1948 and 1976 and are called the Cod wars. The cod wars were numerous; they can be counted as three or even four.

The first dispute was in 1950. The territorial waters were moved up to 4 miles much to Britain’s annoyance since they utilized the Icelandic fisheries. Because of the four mile limit, they could not fish as much as before. This decision created a lot of conflict and Icelandic fish was banned from England, up until 1956 when the dispute ended.

The second dispute was in 1958. The territorial waters were moved to 12 miles according to the United Nations Geneva Convention on Law of the Sea. Britain was again furious, sending the vessel HMS Russell to Iceland.

It’s captain accused the captain of Icelandic coastal guard vessel Ægir of trying to sink the vessel. Protests were held in Reykjavik against Britain were held but the dispute ended in 1961.

The third dispute was in 1972. Iceland would yet again move its territorial waters, not up to 50 miles. And again the Brits were unhappy, sending army vessels to Iceland to protect the British boats, who were fishing within the 50 mile territorial zone.

For the first time the Icelanders used a new weapon they invented themselves.

On September 5th 1972 the Icelanders encountered an unmarked trawler fishing northeast of Iceland. The captain of the trawler refused to divulge the trawler's name and number, and, after being warned to follow the Coast Guard's orders, played Rule Britannia over the radio.

net cutters The net cutters - Source: The Icelandic Coast Guard. The net cutters - Source: The Icelandic Coast Guard.That resulted in Iceland deploying the net cutter into the water for the first time and Ægir sailed along the trawler's port side. The fishermen tossed a thick nylon rope into the water as the patrol ship closed in, attempting to disable its propeller. After passing the trawler, Ægir veered to the trawler's starboard side.

The net cutter, 290 meters in length, went behind the patrol vessel, sliced one of the trawling wires. As Ægir came about to circle the unidentified trawler, its angry crew threw coal as well as garbage and a large fire axe at the Coast Guard vessel.

A truce was made in 1973.

The fourth dispute was in 1975 when Iceland moved its territorial waters up to 200 miles. Britain refused to oblige and kept fishing in Icelandic waters. Only 24 hours after the law passed Iceland used the wire cutters again, now on Primella trawler from Hull.

The disputes were getting dangerous and Britain kept sending navy vessels to Iceland which instead used their wire cutters.

After the nations met in Oslo in 1976 the disputes finally ended.

Iceland had many good weapons which led to them winning all the battles.

Firstly they could point out that if Britain would break any laws Iceland would resign from NATO and therefore dismiss the US Army from Iceland. That was a strong weapon.

Secondly the laws were in favour of Iceland and many supported the small nation against the big old empire.

And lastly it was clear that Britain could not use army vessels to protect their trawlers when fishing forever.

Source: The Cod Wars


Russia and Iceland sign agreement
Old News
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 12:52

katrin juliusdottir Katrín Júlíusdóttir and Sergey Shmatko at the summit this week (Photo: The ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism of Iceland. Katrín Júlíusdóttir and Sergey Shmatko at the summit this week (Photo: The ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism of Iceland.Iceland and Russia have signed a cooperation agenda regarding geothermal energy.

The agreement was signed yesterday by Icelandic Minister of Industry Energy and Tourism, Katrín Júlíusdóttir, and Sergey Shmatko, the Minister of Energy in Russia.

Russia wants to utilize geothermal energy better and Iceland seeks new ways to utilize the vast geothermal resources in the country.

Both countries believe they will gain significantly from the cooperation.

An energy summit in Moscow this week saw Ms. Júlíusdóttir address geothermal matters in Iceland and the forthcoming cooperation with Russia.

As Arctic Portal has reported, Iceland has looked to Russia for more cooperation and the agreement signed this week was a step in that direction.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iceland

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