Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Workshop addresses Arctic Ocean issues

Sea ice off the coast of Greenland.

Scientists, military leaders, and government and non-governmental organization representatives will gather in Fairbanks this week for a three-day workshop on policies for the future of the Arctic Ocean.

The University of the Arctic Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy workshop will run Oct. 22-24 at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge and will focus on the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment, an interdisciplinary report approved by eight arctic states.

As sea ice thins and arctic maritime travel becomes more predominant the future of arctic shipping becomes an increasingly important topic, said Lawson Brigham, a UAF geography professor who helped produce the assessment. “It’s not a question of whether maritime industry is coming to the Arctic. The global maritime industry has already come.”

SNRAS Associate Dean and UA Geography Program Director Mike Sfraga will lead the sessions. Participants will identify future action in each of the assessment’s three main arenas: enhancing arctic marine safety, protecting arctic people and the environment and building the arctic marine infrastructure. Following the session, a report will outline the participants’ recommendations.

“This is a first broad attempt to consider a roadmap forward,” Sfraga said. “Others will take this work and build on it.”

Among the guest speakers are Brigham; UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers; Mead Treadwell, chairman of the US Arctic Research Commission; Denise Michels, Nome mayor and representative of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference; Lars Kullerud, University of the Arctic president; Ross Virginia, director of the Institute of Arctic Studies at Dartmouth College.

Further reading:
Arctic Council Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment 2009 Report (PDF)

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