Executive Summary for July 7th

We review the latest Arctic news, including Russia’s plans to cut back its Arctic spending, research that has found drifting sea ice is picking up speed, and underground methane explosions that continue to rock Siberia.

Published on July 7, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Russia’s ambitions to build new Arctic mega-projects are being curtailed by the country’s strained finances. As the Barents Observer reports, Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development wanted $3.5 billion for its new national Arctic program until 2020. It may instead only get $200 million.

That may hamper ambitious projects that the ministry had hoped to fund through the program, including plans to build a new Lider class of nuclear-powered icebreakers. Those Lider plans alone are expected to cost $1.3 billion. One project set to proceed is an ice-class drifting platform for Arctic research. It alone is expected to cost $120 million.

Need for Speed

Arctic sea is isn’t just melting – it’s speeding up. As Alaska Dispatch News reports, new research that examined sea ice drifting between countries found these movements are occurring more quickly. This could be bad news, if the ice is carrying with it contaminants – whether it be spilled oil or other nasty stuff.

The explanation for the change is that thinner ice tends to travel further. Researchers say this is just one more reason to see the Arctic as an interconnected place where problems can’t be dealt with in isolation. Sea ice tends to drift westwards, meaning that ice from Russia floats to Norway and Greenland, while Canadian ice drifts to Alaska and Alaskan ice ends up in Russia.

Big Bang

Massive methane belches continue to blow apart the northern Russian tundra. As the Siberian Times reports, the most recent explosion occurred June 28, frightening nearby reindeer herders and creating a crater that’s nearly 200 feet wide.

As the Barents Observer reports, Russian authorities view these methane explosions as a potential threat to oil and gas infrastructure in the area. As a result, they’ve begun to build a series of sensors to help detect upcoming sinkholes.

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