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Executive Summary for January 20th

We review the latest Arctic news, including the past year setting new global temperature records, a possible chill developing between Canada and Russia in the Arctic and progress made by Nordic countries to come to a common definition of who should be considered Saami.

Published on Jan. 20, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

New Global Temperature Records Set for Third Consecutive Year

It’s official: 2016 was the warmest year for the planet on record, according to two U.S. science agencies. That breaks records previously set in 2015, which in turn broke records set in 2014.

Rising temperatures have been especially noticeable in the Arctic, where the past year saw sea ice regularly hit monthly lows and where overall temperatures were the warmest on record, the Washington Post reports.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA each measured global temperatures through different methods, but their big-picture conclusions remained the same.

“A single warm year is something of a curiosity,” Deke Arndt, chief of global climate monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the New York Times. “It’s really the trend, and the fact that we’re punching at the ceiling every year now, that is the real indicator that we’re undergoing big changes.

Canada-Russia Arctic Cooperation May Experience A Chill

Canada’s new foreign affairs minister is known to be a fierce critic of the Kremlin, and some experts worry this doesn’t bode well for Arctic cooperation between the two countries.

Chrystia Freeland, who describes herself as a Ukrainian-Canadian activist, is among 13 blacklisted Canadians banned from visiting Russia since 2014, Radio Canada International reports. It is thought that she will view Russia’s growing military efforts in the Arctic in a more suspicious light than her successor.

Meanwhile, the High North News offers a different perspective on Russia’s recent flurry of military activity in the Arctic. This should be viewed less as a build-up than a catch-up, following years of neglecting the region, says Robert Mood, a former lieutenant general in the Norwegian army. To illustrate the point, Mood says that in 1994 Russian officers had to resort to ice fishing to help feed their families whil;e they weren’t paid for six months.

As well, 300 U.S. Marines are spending the next six months in Norway to study winter warfare – a deployment that has irked Russia, Reuters reports.

Convention on Saami Rights Edges Ahead

Slow progress is being made by Nordic nations working toward an agreement on Saami rights and culture.

The agreement would broaden who is eligible to vote in Saami Parliament elections, the Independent Barents Observer reports. It does so by adopting Norway’s definition of Saami. That includes someone who self-identifies and speaks the native language. It also includes someone with a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent who spoke the Saami language, or someone with a parent enrolled in the Saami Parliament census.

Talks between Finland, Norway and Sweden started more than a decade ago. The agreement still needs to be approved by Saami and national lawmakers.

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