Reporting in the Arctic

I am the Washington correspondent for ArcticToday, covering science, health, security and more in the circumpolar region. Here are a few of my recent stories.

Alaska

Alaska aims to steer its own course on climate change

Dependent on oil production, yet already feeling the effects of a changing climate, the only Arctic state isn’t waiting for federal action on climate.

Alaska must transition away from fossil fuels, invest more in renewables, and cut back on carbon emissions, according to a draft policy release by the state government last month.

The policy is part of an effort by Gov. Bill Walker, a former Republican who was elected as an independent, and it puts Alaska — a solidly red state with an outsized dependence on fossil fuel development — in some unlikely company, including populous and political liberal states such as New York and California. Read more at ArcticToday.

In Alaska, the National Weather Service must change as rapidly as the climate

A changing climate and more interest in economic activity are “testing our ability to provide meaningful, actionable information,” the weather service said.

In 2012, Shell Oil began drilling exploratory oil and gas wells in the Chukchi Sea, off the northwest coast of Alaska.

The company poured billions of dollars into the project, but they soon encountered problems typical of working in one of the harshest environments on the planet; during a storm, for example, a drilling vessel in the Gulf of Alaska broke loose from its tow and ran aground near Kodiak.

In order to anticipate other problems and to plan its drilling, Shell asked the National Weather Service to predict environmental phenomena like sea ice formation.

“They were asking us the sorts of questions we had never been asked before — they were wanting to know, in January, when the ice was going to go out,” says Carven Scott, director of Alaska’s NWS. “Nobody had ever asked us what sea ice was going to do four to five months in advance.” Read more at ArcticToday.

Against a backdrop of shifting Arctic security, Iceland seeks a US trade deal

After seeing its U.S. military presence depart in the post-Cold War era, Iceland is again becoming a strategic location. Will that be enough to help it secure a trade deal with the U.S.?

The United States and Iceland have a long history of bilateral agreements.

In 1951, the United States agreed to provide military protection for Iceland in exchange for using the strategically placed island as a Cold War outpost. Read more at ArcticToday.

Outgoing commandant says Arctic has become a top priority for US Coast Guard

As he prepares to retire, Adm. Paul Zukunft says the Arctic has grown in importance during his four-year tenure leading the Coast Guard.

When he talks about his accomplishments and regrets during four years as Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Adm. Paul Zukunft downplays the idea of a legacy.

“I do not believe in legacies,” he said Tuesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, preferring his successors continue momentum forward, rather than looking back. Read more at ArcticToday.

Note: These stories are behind a paywall, but if you’re able to read them, I hope you enjoy.

Categories: Freelance Articles

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