01 Sep

President wants more icebreakers in Arctic

One of the things I noticed while researching Arctic Rising was that the US was not able to do much force-projection or borders patrolling, search and rescue, etc with the current fleet, ranking the US below much, much smaller nations with Arctic borders. Looks like someone is paying attention finally:

President Obama on Tuesday will propose speeding the acquisition and building of new Coast Guard icebreakers that can operate year-round in the nation’s polar regions, part of an effort to close the gap between the United States and other nations, especially Russia, in a global competition to gain a foothold in the rapidly changing Arctic.

(Via Obama to Call for More Icebreakers in Arctic as U.S. Seeks Foothold – The New York Times.)

15 May

Spying in the Arctic heats up, and Foreign Policy Magazine is there

Foreign Policy magazine has a fun article catching people up to a lot of what I was researching when putting together Arctic Rising:

While the world’s attention today is focused largely on the Middle East and other obvious trouble spots, few people seem to be monitoring what’s happening in the Arctic. Over the past few years, in fact, the Arctic Ocean countries have been busy building up their espionage armories with imaging satellites, reconnaissance drones, eavesdropping bases, spy planes, and stealthy subs. Denmark and Canada have described a clear uptick in Arctic spies operating on their territories, with Canada reporting levels comparable to those at the height of the Cold War. As of October, NATO had recorded a threefold jump in 2014 over the previous year in the number of Russian spy aircraft it had intercepted in the region. Meanwhile, the United States is sending satellites over the icy region about every 30 minutes, averaging more than 17,000 passes every year, and is developing a new generation of unmanned intelligence sensors to monitor everything above, on, and below the ice and water.

If Vienna was the crossroads of human espionage during the Cold War, a hub of safe houses where spies for the East and the West debriefed agents and eyed each other in cafes, it’s fair to say that the Arctic has become the crossroads of technical espionage today.

(Via Frozen Assets: Inside the Spy War for Control of the Arctic | Foreign Policy.)

25 Oct

I had no idea: Sweden’s deadly subs

This is a fairly fascinating tale of military leapfrogging:

Sweden Has A Sub That’s So Deadly The US Navy Hired It To Play Bad Guy: “We have been glued all week to the sub saga off the coast of Sweden, where six days in Swedish forces have only now called off their search for an elusive sub hiding in the waters off Stockholm. Yet what nobody has mentioned is just how deadly and capable Sweden’s own subs are, and there are few better weapons for catching a sub than another sub.”

(Via Jalopnik.)

I would totally have worked that into Arctic Rising if I’d known.

Something to come back to in the third novel, possibly.

16 Jun

Cold War-style spy games come to the Arctic

Hmmmm… sounds familiar.

“In early March, a mysterious ship the size of a large passenger ferry left a Romanian wharf, glided through the narrow strait that separates Europe from Asia and plotted a course toward Scandinavia. After a two-year refitting, the $250 million ship will begin its mission: to snoop on Russia’s activities in the Arctic.

‘There is a demand from our political leadership to describe what is going on in this region,’ said Norway’s military intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Kjell Grandhagen.

As climate change eats away at the sea ice covering the North Pole, Arctic nations — the U.S., Canada, the Nordic countries and Russia— are fishing for secrets in East-West spy games echoing Cold War rivalries. The military dimension remains important but this time there’s an economic aspect, too: getting a leg up in the competition for potential oil and gas resources, along with new shipping lanes and fishing waters.”

(Via Cold War-style spy games return to melting Arctic – Toledo Blade.)

18 Feb

Russia’s new New Arctic Command

Via Fred Kiesche:

“Russia is forming a new Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command dedicated to protecting its interests in the Arctic Circle before the end of 2014, RIA Novosti reported on Monday.

‘The new command will comprise the Northern Fleet, Arctic warfare brigades, air force and air defense units as well as additional administrative structures,’ a source on the Russian general staff told the state news agency.

The Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command will be responsible for protecting Russian shipping, fisheries, oil and gas fields on the Arctic shelf, according to RIA Novosti. The new command will also protect Russia’s northern borders.

Setting up the new military command is part of a larger Russian move to boost its presence in the Arctic.”

(Via Russia to Standup New Arctic Command | USNI News.)

01 Jan

AP is suddenly realizing other nations are racing to claim resources in the Arctic as it warms up

What’s particularly rich about this is that the Republican senator of Alaska never once mentions *why* all these resources in the Arctic are suddenly available…

“The U.S. is racing to keep pace with stepped-up activity in the once sleepy Arctic frontier, but it is far from being in the lead.

Nations across the world are hurrying to stake claims to the Arctic’s resources, which might be home to 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its untapped natural gas. There are emerging fisheries and hidden minerals. Cruise liners filled with tourists are sailing the Arctic’s frigid waters in increasing numbers. Cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route, one of two shortcuts across the top of the Earth in summer, is on the rise.

The U.S., which takes over the two-year rotating chairmanship of the eight-nation Arctic Council in 2015, has not ignored the Arctic, but critics say the U.S. is lagging behind the other seven: Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Canada and Denmark, through the semiautonomous territory of Greenland.”

(Via America Is Losing The Competition For The Arctic – Business Insider.)

10 Dec

Icelandair and Aeros team up for Arctic blimps!

As Paul Weimer noted, because of writing Arctic Rising, anytime anything blimp and Arctic related pop up I get notice, which is pretty cool (in my book). Howard Taylor just forwarded this to me:

“U.S.-based airship company Aeros and Icelandic airline Icelandair Cargo, say they have signed an agreement with hopes of establishing a partnership to develop new air freight service across the Arctic region.
Together they are hoping to deliver standard cargo containers via Iceland to regions with little infrastructure, such as Siberia, Alaska, Greenland and northern Canada.

‘It’s a project representing the future of solving the problems of today,’ Aeros’ CEO Igor Pasternak told CNN. ‘The distribution in the Arctic Circle as it is right now is inefficient and not logical.’

Managing Director with Icelandair Cargo, Gunnar Sigurfinnsson, said in a press release that he believes Aeros will help transform Arctic transportation forever.”

(Via Airship cargo to revolutionize Arctic transportation – CNN.com.)

10 Jul

Summer Arctic Ice loss accelerating way faster than predicted

When I wrote Arctic Rising, 2050 for ice-free sounded science fictional. Now some scientists are saying it’s 2040:

“Looking at not just the area, but also the age and thickness of sea ice is a key aspect of understanding why an ice-free Arctic summer could occur in far less time than previously thought – perhaps less than a decade from now.  It is also a level of complexity often ignored by the media.”

(Via Summer Sea Ice Cover Is Smaller, Younger, Thinner | Barentsobserver.)

10 Jul

Russia gets ready for large drilling in the Arctic

There be black gold under them snows… (via Alex Avriette)

“Last year, Russian state-controlled oil conglomerate Rosneft became the largest oil company in the world after acquiring one of its major competitors. The company has had its sights on tapping Russia’s vast, treacherous Arctic reserves, and after making a few huge deals, it looks like it now has the resources needed to do so.”

(Via Russian Oil Behemoth Rosneft Has Unlocked the Arctic | Motherboard.)

30 May

Arctic ice continues melting dramatically


I’m still not seeing a lot of calls for ice-free summers in 2050-ish, which is the ‘sf-nal’ component of my recent novel Arctic Rising, but Phil Plait here goes over why it will likely be by 2100:

“These two issues overlap mightily when it comes to Arctic sea ice. The ice around the North Pole is going away, and it’s doing so with alarming rapidity. I don’t mean the yearly cycle of melt in the summer and freeze in the winter, though that plays into this; I mean the long-term trend of declining amounts of ice. There are two ways to categorize the amount of ice: by measuring the extent (essentially the area of the ocean covered by ice, though in detail it’s a little more complicated) or using volume, which includes the thickness of the ice. Either way, though, the ice is dwindling away. That is a fact.”

(Via Arctic sea ice: Global warming is melting more ice every year.)