US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is worried about Russia’s aggressive behaviour in the Arctic, while China’s actions should also be watched closely. This comes amid increasing divisions in the Arctic regarding global warming and access to minerals. However, Mr. Pompeo said that all were welcome to share in the Arctic’s wealth.
A federal judge in Alaska has overturned US President Donald Trump’s attempt to open vast areas of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans to oil and gas leasing, noting that this attempt was ‘unlawful’ and ‘a violation of the federal Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act’.
The crew of US’s only heavy icebreaker, Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, returned to Seattle on Monday, March 11, after supporting Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica, the US military operation to resupply the US Antarctic Program. The crewmembers of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star experienced flooding, an electrical outage, electrical switchboard issues and an incinerator fire, before accomplishing their mission.
Polar Vortex, a pattern of high-altitude winds in the Arctic, weakened resulting to frigid air over North America and Europe in the second half of January 2019. Although the Arctic ice sea extent remained below average, temperatures in the far north were closer to average than in past years. Specifically, Arctic sea ice extent for January averaged 13.56 million square kilometers (5.24 million square miles). This was 860.000 square kilometres less in comparison to 1981 to 2010 long-term average sea ice extent, and 500.000 square kilometres above the record low for the month set in January 2018.
In order to protect the coastline of the US from the dangers of offshore oil drilling, Congressman Jared Huffman reintroduced, on January 8 the West Coast Ocean Protection Act and the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act. TThe Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act would make the Arctic Ocean off-limits to any future drilling proposals by not allowing any new or renewed leases for the exploration, development, or production of oil, natural gas or any other minerals in the Arctic Ocean Planning Areas of the Outer Continental Shelf.
The US Coast Guard and the Navy are collaborating to acquire up to three new heavy polar icebreakers. The US Government Accountability Office reviewed the heavy polar icebreaker program’s acquisition risks. It examined the extent to which the program is facing risks to achieving its goals, reviewed USCG and Navy program documents, and analyzed USCG and Navy data.
The Arctic Economic Council is concerned about the recent increased protectionism in global trade. Especially, the US announcement about a 25% tariff for imports of steel and 10% tariff on aluminum. Freedom of trade is vital for AEC, to ensure the responsible development of the Arctic region.
Milestone Arctic protections proposed jointly by the US and Russia, to establish three new areas to be avoided in Bering strait and to set up six recommendatory two-way routes and six precautionary areas in the Bering Sea, are anticipated to be approved this week, on the sidelines of IMO’s MSC 99, underway in London.
A joint researched program by UK and US research program was launched at Monday, 30 April, called Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. The program will focus on the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica, which can significantly affect global sea levels. The glacier accounts for around 4% of global sea level rise.
Changes to the Arctic were caused by warming temperatures which allow further exploration for oil, gas, and minerals, thus increasing the risk of pollution in the region. Cleaning up oil spills in the Arctic is very difficult, because effective strategies for cleaning up oil spills in the Arctic are not discovered.
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