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]

Bills mount for new Coast Guard ships

Two new Arctic patrol ships being built for the Canadian Coast Guard by Irving Shipbuilding evidently will cost nearly twice as much as their six Royal Canadian Navy counterparts. Struggling with supply chain issues and inflation, as well as meeting CCG-specific design requirements, Irving has told Parliament that it is “working to quantify those challenges in a revised cost estimate.” The latest estimate is $750 million each compared with about $400 million for the RCN vessels. [node:read-more:link]

Oceans warming up relentlessly

Results of a peer-reviewed study published today in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences shows that the world’s oceans last year were at their warmest in recorded history as average temperatures rose for the sixth consecutive year. “The ocean heat content is relentlessly increasing globally, and this is a primary indicator of human-induced climate change,” commented report co-author Kevin Trenberth, distinguished scholar at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research. [node:read-more:link]

Record Arctic high confirmed

It’s no secret in Canada or other northern nations that the Arctic has become a bellwether for global warming. The World Meteorological Organization confirmed today that a record high of 38 degrees Celsius was reported on June 20 last year in Siberia. That was some 18 degrees above the region’s daily average for the month, a situation the UN agency said had contributed to “massive sea ice loss” and evoked the Mediterranean rather than the Arctic.” [node:read-more:link]

Arctic shipping urged to curb emissions

A UN resolution urging maritime operators to use clear fuels in the Arctic is being widely hailed for its potential to reduce carbon black emissions in the region. The fine particulates from incomplete fossil fuel combustion land on snow and ice, increasing melt rates by reducing the surface’s albedo or reflectivity. [node:read-more:link]

A push to end Arctic resource development

A new Arctic strategy published today would ban development of new hydrocarbon development in the region. The European Commission acknowledged that the EU still imports petroleum resources from the North but said it will work “towards a multilateral legal obligation not to allow any further hydrocarbon reserve development in the Arctic or contiguous regions.” [node:read-more:link]

July hottest month on record

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that global average temperatures in July were the hottest since record-keeping began 142 years ago. The combined land and ocean-surface reading was 0.93°C above the average for the last century and in the northern hemisphere, land temperatures in July were an “unprecedented” 1.54° higher than average. [node:read-more:link]

Cost of used icebreakers increasing

The cost of acquiring three used Norwegian icebreakers the government is buying through the Quebec shipyard Chantier Davie has topped $921 million, some 50 per cent higher than the original 2018 estimate. The yard recently received additional payment to continue converting them for Canadian Coast Guard use until new ships are built. [node:read-more:link]

Arctic could become “contested” space

The commander of the U.S. Navy 2nd Fleet says enhancing presence and cultivating partnerships in the Arctic are vital to prevent military conflict in the region. “It will only remain a cooperative area if we continue to build those relationships,” VAdm Andrew “Woody” Lewis said Aug. 1, adding that failure to maintain a U.S. presence could “cede the space to the Russians or somebody else.” [node:read-more:link]

Arctic fisheries potential to be assessed

Canada, the U.S., China, Russia and several other countries plan joint research into fishing in the Arctic. A potential step toward setting international rules, the program would track species and monitor current catch levels which have been increasing as global warming reduces ice coverage. [node:read-more:link]

New Governor-General appointed

Quebec Inuk Mary J. Simon was appointed today as Canada’s 30th Governor General. The former CBC North producer and announcer went on to become Canada’s first Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs in 1994 and was a lead negotiator for the creation of the Arctic Council. She also later served two years as ambassador to Denmark. [node:read-more:link]

Arctic strategy due for a change?

U.S. strategy in the Arctic is being challenged by the vice-chair of the Armed Services Committee in the House of Representatives. Virginia Democrat Elaine Luria, a retired naval commander, suggested during hearings that having three commands tasked with defending the region is ineffective. [node:read-more:link]

The not-so-great northern divide

A day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned the West against making territorial claims in the Arctic, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said May 18 that the global community should avoid militarizing the region. “We've seen Russia advance unlawful maritime claims . . . which are inconsistent with international law,” Blinken said ahead of an Arctic Council ministerial meeting. Lavrov had said “it has been absolutely clear for everyone for a long time that this is our territory, this is our land” and “we are responsible for ensuring our Arctic coast is safe.” [node:read-more:link]


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