Executive Summary for February 10th

We review the latest Arctic news, including a new monthly record for dwindling Arctic sea ice, Russian sailors getting trapped in thick ice along the Northern Sea Route, and Saami celebrations on their national day.

Published on Feb. 10, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Sea Ice Decline Continues to Reach Record Figures

The extent of Arctic sea ice in January broke last year’s record for the same month, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Arctic sea ice extent for the month averaged 13.38 million square kilometres (5.17 million square miles). That’s the lowest January extent in the 38-year satellite record. It’s also 1.26 million square kilometres (487,000 square miles) below the long-term averages from January 1981 to 2010.

The current sea ice decline fits a pattern of weirdly warm polar conditions that started last October.

Convoy of Russian Ships Trapped by Sea Ice

A convoy of supply ships remains trapped by sea ice along Russia’s easternmost coast, which is experiencing heavy sea ice this winter.

Four vessels traversed the route eastwards from Arkhangelsk to Pevek but when they set off on their return journey they quickly found themselves locked up in thick sea ice, the High North News reports. After a week stuck in the ice, the ships managed to return to Pevek and are now located in Chaunskaya Bay.

The ships were delivering supplies for a quay wall for Russia’s first floating nuclear power plant.

While a large icebreaker among them has continued east, the Independent Barents Observer reports that 100 Russian sailors may have to wait out the winter onboard their ships unless they can be assisted by one of Russia’s nuclear icebreakers. In the meantime, the vessels have been provided with electrical hook-ups, additional food and other supplies.

Saami Celebrate National Day

Saami from northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia’s Kola Peninsula gathered earlier this week in Trondheim, Norway, to celebrate Sami albmotbeaivvi, or Sami National Day.

As Arctic Journal reports, the first such event took place a century ago, in 1917. The key theme to the first celebrations – how Saami could work together to advance their rights – remains as relevant today.

Saami in all four countries now have national assemblies and work is slowly advancing in the Nordic countries toward an agreement to define Saami rights. But many Saami worry about cultural erosion, as well as having to defend the territory they use for reindeer herding from the forestry, energy and tourism sectors.

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