Record low Antarctic sea ice

The World Meteorological Organization reported July 10 that sea ice levels in Antarctica were at record lows in June, the hottest for that month on record since satellite observations began. “We're used to seeing these big reductions in sea ice in the Arctic, but not in the Antarctic,” a WHO official said. [node:read-more:link]

Utility of Arctic Council questioned

Russia’s two-year term as Arctic Council chair ended today, leaving the body’s role for international collaboration in doubt. Now chaired by Norway, Russia’s leadership waned as the seven other Arctic states suspended cooperation when it invaded Ukraine. “It leaves the concept somewhat in tatters,” a U.S. analyst says. “Russia makes up about half the Arctic. You can't really have an Arctic Council without Russia.” [node:read-more:link]

China extends polar footprint

The 1959 Antarctic Treaty stipulates that continent could not be used for military purposes, but the evolution of dual-use technologies is raising concerns about China, which has a growing interest in the Arctic, building a fifth Antarctic base which could be used to monitor communications in southern regions. [node:read-more:link]

Growing U.S. interest in North

A decision by the U.S. Administration to nominate Alaskan geographer Mike Sfraga as an ambassador-at-large for the Arctic is seen as a direct response to Russia’s ramped-up northern military presence and Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski says that dealing with national security threats from China as well as Russia and China in the region will be a challenge. [node:read-more:link]

Russia launches two nuclear icebreakers

A flag-raising ceremony and dock launch today for two Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers tasked with ensuring year-round operations in the Western Arctic was attended remotely by President Vladimir Putin. “Both icebreakers were laid down as part of a large serial project and are part of our large-scale, systematic work to re-equip and replenish the domestic icebreaker fleet, to strengthen Russia’s status as a great Arctic power,” Putin said. He also said his country’s current economic difficulties would not stop further development of the fleet. [node:read-more:link]

Canada’s northern presence ineffectual

A report today from the Office of the Auditor General says that Canada lacks a complete picture of who is entering or traversing Arctic waters, partly due to the fact that a naval surveillance station can only operate four weeks a year. Overall, it says, the country cannot stay on top of threats to national security, illegal fishing or pollution posed by marine traffic which has tripled in recent years as sea ice diminishes. [node:read-more:link]

Arctic summer ice loss accelerating

A State of the Cryosphere report released at the latest UN global climate change conference predicts that the Arctic will lose its entire summer sea ice cover at least once in the next few decades and probably more frequently “It's a threshold tipped,” Pamela Pearson, a former U.S. diplomat and one of the report’s editors, said November 7. “Loss of summer sea ice is now inevitable.” [node:read-more:link]

Global warming irreversible?

As representatives from most nations gathered in Egypt for the latest global climate conference, the World Meteorological Organization sounded yet another warning about the accelerating impact of global warming. WMO chief Petteri Taalas said “there are no positive indicators so far” and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the agency’s report as “a chronicle of climate chaos.” [node:read-more:link]

Canada’s has “tenuous hold” on Arctic

The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Wayne Eyre, has told the House of Commons standing committee on national defence that Canada’s “tenuous hold” on its Arctic territories will come under increasing challenge in the decades ahead as China and Russia expand their presence. He also mooted the notion that an increasingly isolated Russia could become a Chinese “vassal state” because of its increasing reliance on its neighbour. [node:read-more:link]

Stoltenberg visits Canadian Arctic

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is in the Canadian North this week for an unprecedented tour of defence installations. Officials say the visit is meant to highlight that the region is a security priority, in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and issues related to climate change. [node:read-more:link]

Arctic Defence Chiefs meet in Canada

Chief of the Defence Staff General Wayne Eyre concluded the 2022 meeting of the Arctic Chiefs of Defence in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Canada hosted representatives from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and the United States to share lessons learned from ongoing Arctic operations and to coordinate enhanced cooperation. [node:read-more:link]

New icebreakers sought by U.S.

The commander of the U.S. Coast Guard said July 14 that her service needs to beef up its icebreaker capability to counter growing Russian and Chinese activities in the North. “We are an Arctic nation,” Admiral Linda Fagan pointed out to a congressional committee. “Getting the capability and capacity to create an enduring presence in the Arctic, in the waters off Alaska, are absolutely a priority.” Russia has more than 40 icebreakers and China, hoping to exploit a longer ice-free season, has declared itself a “near-arctic power.” [node:read-more:link]

Arctic development challenged in court

Environmental activists are taking Norway to the European Court of Human Rights in what is considered a potential international test case of how much of the Arctic’s natural resources can be exploited. Seven other countries, including Canada, have interests in the region but since it is mostly marine, there is no international Antarctic-style environmental treaty protecting it from economic development. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. envoy optimistic about Arctic

David Cohen, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, says he has been assured Canada will follow through this year on crucial investments to modernize Arctic defences, even though this month's budget included no specific funding. He says he has pressed the issue in “candid conversations” with senior cabinet ministers and although this “this budget does not include funding for NORAD, for modernizing and improving the northern defence for Canada and for the United States . . . it will be forthcoming during the course of this fiscal year.” [node:read-more:link]


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