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This week in the Arctic: Budgeting for climate threats, a growing ozone hole and footwear of the North

  • Author: Alaska News
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published February 12, 2016

Here are some of the stories from around the Arctic that we've been following this week:

Budgeting for climate resilience

The Iñupiat Eskimo village of Kivalina, seen on December 11, 2012, sits on a narrow barrier island off Alaska's Chukchi Sea coast. A new stone seawall has helped curb erosion from winter storms, but it is only a stopgap, at some point in the near future the village will have to move.

President Barack Obama released his annual budget request Tuesday, and it include items of particular interest in the Arctic, including funding to continue the process of acquiring new polar icebreakers. It also included some $400 million to help communities threatened by climate change -- such as Kivalina and Newtok -- to help them relocate or become more resilient. But not all Arctic communities are equally able to adapt to a changing climate, and some of the problems they face have nothing to do with climate at all. "Instead," an Arctic Deeply piece explains, "outside pressures, such as outdated land management practices, bureaucratic regulatory processes, limited education and marginalization, curb the ability of these communities to adapt to the effects of climate change."

The state of Arctic oil

Less than a month after receiving approval to begin production from its Goliat oil field in Norway's Arctic offshore waters, Italian oil giant ENI faced scrutiny after an audit by that nation's regulators turned up safety breaches, reports Offshore Post. Meanwhile, Hakai Magazine released a graphic illustrating the history of Arctic oil, from its first discovery in the Mackenzie River delta in 1920 to the delays facing ENI last December. (Check out our own Alaska-focused history of offshore Arctic oil exploration published last fall after Shell announced it was abandoning its Chukchi Sea drilling efforts.)

Further reading:

- The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto opens a semi-permanent exhibition of Arctic footwear, with examples from traditional cultures around the circumpolar north.

- U.S. Navy aircraft will be returning to a former air base in Keflavik, Iceland, as part of a mission to patrol for Russian submarines, reports Stars and Stripes. That doesn't necessarily mean the facility is reopening as a permanent military base, Iceland Review writes.

- Inuit from Canada traveled to Washington, D.C., this week in an effort to convince U.S. officials that the nation's polar bear management practices are sound, reports NunatsiaqOnline. The U.S. has previously tried to "uplist" the animals under the framework of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, a move that would ban international trade of polar bear parts.

- Could a 3D virtual reality simulator help train navigators for the unusual challenges of sailing in the Arctic -- and in doing so avert a future disaster?

- An unusually deep hole in the ozone layer has opened over the Arctic, thanks to a combination of pollution and cold air. Scientists worry it might grow big enough to set a record -- and they worry about what that that might mean for people and ecosystems in the region.

- In Canada, Inuktitut interpreters and translators voted by a narrow margin to adopt a unified system of orthography based on Roman characters, rather than syllabics.

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