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Yereth Rosen

Every year, as Arctic sea ice thins, scatters and melts, scientists ask: How low will it go?

While the long-term trend of less summer Arctic ice is clear, the short-term outlook for total melt in any given year is far murkier, thanks to the many and sometimes highly volatile factors that drive the final outcome.

Still, scientists are attempting to predict how much Arctic sea ice will remain at the end of this year’s melt, expected in mid to late September. The latest round of expert predictions , released July 23, yields a median of almost 2 square miles, far above the record-low 1.3 square miles in 2012 but below the 1981-2010 average of more than 2.5 million square miles...

Yereth Rosen

Energy giant Shell , which has yet to hit oil after spending about $5 billion on a program to drill in waters off Arctic Alaska, on Thursday announced a deal to share leases and exploration expense with corporations owned by the Native Inupiat residents of the North Slope.

Shell, Barrow-based Arctic Slope Regional Corp . and six North Slope Inupiat village corporations announced their new joint venture, called Arctic Inupiat Offshore , at an Anchorage news conference...

Yereth Rosen

Ocean acidification, the chemical transformation that occurs when large amounts of carbon dioxide are absorbed into marine waters, imperils Alaska’s fishing-dependent economy, says a new study funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Commercial fishermen who depend on the ocean for their income and subsistence fishermen who depend on it for their diets will be harmed by the documented ocean changes, says the study, accepted for publication in the journal Progress in Oceanography ...

Yereth Rosen

Caribou in northern Alaska and Canada’s Yukon Territory will lose winter habitat if the region’s long-term pattern of increased wildfires continues, according to a study newly published in the journal PLOS ONE .

The Porcupine caribou herd , which straddles the Alaska-Yukon border, stands to lose 21 percent of the lichen-producing habitat they use in winter by the end of the century, said the study, conducted by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Alaska Fairbanks...

Yereth Rosen

Alaska's bearded seals , animals with distinctive whiskers and a penchant for floating alone on pieces of drifting Arctic sea ice, were improperly granted threatened-species status in 2012, a federal judge ruled Friday

The National Marine Fisheries Service erred in using a 100-year projection as justification for granting Endangered Species Act protections to the Alaska-dwelling population of that seal, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline ruled...

Yereth Rosen

A well blowout, pipeline breach or vessel accident in the Canadian Beaufort Sea could spew spilled oil westward for months, polluting waters off Alaska and soiling habitat used by whales, seals and migrating seabirds, according to a study released Friday by the World Wildlife Fund ...

Yereth Rosen

Companies drilling offshore for oil in the Canadian Arctic have long been required to show that they are capable of rapidly sinking relief wells to quash blowouts. The decades-old Canadian “same-season relief well” standard -- generally requiring companies to secure backup relief-well rigs for all drilling projects in Arctic waters -- is being eyed by officials with the U.S. Department of the Interior as a model for pending Arctic-specific rules for offshore oil and gas development in the U.S. Arctic.

Now the Canadian government is considering granting exceptions for companies seeking to drill in deep waters of the icy Beaufort Sea...

Yereth Rosen

A former U.S. Coast Guard commandant, Admiral Robert Papp , will be the Obama administration’s special representative for the Arctic, while former Alaska Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer will serve as a special adviser on Arctic issues, Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Wednesday.

Papp retired in May from a 39-year career with the Coast Guard. Among his accomplishments was the restoration and refurbishment of the heavy icebreaker Polar Star, Kerry said in a statement. “I could not be happier that he agreed to postpone his well-deserved retirement and join our effort in a cause about which he is both passionate and wise,” Kerry said...

Yereth Rosen

Yellow-billed loons that migrate to nesting sites on Alaska’s Arctic coastal plain are bearing an undesirable burden that comes from thousands of miles away -- mercury unleashed by industrial pollution, according to a new study .

The study, published in a special issue of the journal Waterbirds that is devoted to loon research , describes mercury levels found in feathers, blood and eggs of yellow-billed loons, birds that spend their summers nesting on the Arctic coastline...

Yereth Rosen

The clouds of black carbon soiling snow and ice in Finland’s Arctic region have diminished significantly since the middle of the 20th century, a change attributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the cessation of some of the most polluting industrial practices in northwestern Russia, according to a new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Much of the black carbon – also known as soot – came from the heavily polluted Kola Peninsula, where smelters and other industrial facilities belched smoke for decades, the study said...

Yereth Rosen

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