Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Notice of Public Review and Comment Period for NOAA’s Arctic Vision and Strategy EXTENDED to JUNE 25, 2010

Extended comment submission deadline: Friday, 25 June 2010

Download the document at:

For further information, please go to:

. . . . . . .

NOAA, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, requests comments on its "Arctic Vision and Strategy", which was published in April 2010 and is available here.  The full notice of this public review and comment period is available in the Federal Register and sets  June 10, 2010 deadline for submission of comments.

The NOAA Arctic Vision and Strategy document (AVS) envisions an Arctic where:
“• Conservation, management, and use are based on sound science and support healthy, productive, and resilient communities and ecosystems; and
• The global implications of Arctic change are better understood and predicted.” (AVS, p. 5)  NOAA has identified six priority goals as “needed to realize this vision”:

    1) Forecast Sea Ice
    2) Strengthen Foundational Science to Understand and Detect Arctic Climate and Ecosystem   Changes
 3)  Improve Weather and Water Forecasts and Warning
 4)  Enhance International and National Partnerships
 5)  Improve Stewardship and Management of Ocean and Coastal Resources in the Arctic
 6) Advance Resilient and Healthy Arctic Communities and Economies.

The document draws connections to the U.S. extended continental shelf mapping efforts (NOAA is a co-vice chair of the ECS Task Force). Acknowledging it to be beyond the scope of ECS efforts, the document nonetheless refers to "collecting the baseline ecosystem-level data [which] would enhance the existing information and provide the U.S. with a better understanding of the nature, extent, and economic value of [ECS] resources, as well as insights into issues such as climate variability; marine ecosystems; and undiscovered or unconventional energy, biological, and mineral resources." (AVS, p. 17)

The Arctic Vision document identifies Guiding Principles for NOAA Arctic activities in the next five years, as well as Goals and Strategies.  The Principles section opens with the notable phrase “the U.S. and its partners,” continuing on to say that they “will greatly benefit from enhanced and better coordinated NOAA efforts in the Arctic region.” The phrase “international partners” appears five times in this short document, which is replete with  references to international implications of actions in the Arctic and the need for coordinated activity to address changes there (as detailed in the document’s discussion of fourth priority area identified above).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tracy Rouleau, Office of Program Planning and Integration, at strategic.planning@noaa.gov or (301) 713–1622 x187.

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.