Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Arctic Council Working Groups and NOAA issue annual Arctic Report Card for 2009

An international group of scientists contributed to the peer-reviewed annual Arctic Report Card, issued this month under the auspices of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and working groups within the Arctic Council -- the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP),  Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), and Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP).  The Report Card summary notes the following key points for 2009:

The Report Card contains sections on Atmosphere, Sea Ice Cover, Ocean, Land, Permafrost, Terrestrial Snow, Glaciers outside Greenland, Greenland, Biology, The State of Wild Reindeer Herds, Marine Mammals, Murres, Fisheries in the Bering Sea, The State of the Barents Sea Ecosystem, The State of Char in the Arctic, and Goose Populations.  Peer review is conducted by topical experts of the Climate Experts Group (AMAP) of the Arctic Council.

The full report, Richter-Menge, J., and J.E. Overland, Eds., 2009: Arctic Report Card 2009, http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard, can be downloaded in PDF form.

Icebreaking into the Arctic

The USCGC HEALY embarked Barrow, Alaska, in August 2008 to map the US extended continental shelf, or ECS, in the Arctic Ocean (HLY 0805). Healy sailed again from 7 August to 16 September, 2009 (HLY 0905) to continue ECS mapping, joining with the Canadian icebreaker, the Louis S. St.-Laurent. The two vessels mapped together again in 2010 (see HLY1002) and 2011 (HLY1102).

As the only law professor on the science crew, I was along on HLY 0805 and 0905 to better understand
the science behind the legal process that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea establishes for states making ECS submissions. As to why the US is mapping now, even though it has not yet acceded to the Convention, read on both here, and in the Law of the Sea notes below.

Thanks to
Vermont Law School and especially to Larry Mayer, Director of the University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, for making my part in the trip possible.
Thanks, as well, to Adriane Colburn, for opening new windows on and for the deep.