Arctic News Roundup: 1-7 March

The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, which last erupted in 2010 [Photo by Mingming Shi]

by Mingming Shi

1) The Reykjavík Grapevine, a local media service in Iceland, published a short educational video about the pronunciation of a potential volcano, (Sundhnjúkagígaröð in Þráinsskjaldarhraun) which has been closely watched in recent days in the wake of numerous earthquakes in southwestern Iceland.

2) As reported by the Reuters news agency, the ‘Polar Silk Road’, which has been developed by the government of China as a ‘northern tier’ of the Belt and Road Initiative, was included in the latest Five Year Plan, covering 2021-2025, published by Beijing to outline Chinese economic priorities in the near future. The Polar Silk Road was first developed in 2017, and included in the country’s first Arctic White Paper published the following year.

3) The Travel section of CNN posted an exposé of frozen ‘ghost towns’ surrounding the mining city of Vorkuta (Воркута) in the Komi Republic of the Russian Arctic. Vorkuta used to be a gulag city during the Soviet Era, and the photographs of frozen abandoned buildings were taken when the winter temperatures had dropped to -38ºC.

4) According to the Barents Observer, the Government of Norway has agreed to observe the decision by the European Council’s to place EU sanctions on four high-level government officials in Russia, in relation to the case of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

5) Mikkel Schøler, the CEO of Sikki, published an article for Over the Circle, about the regional ban on humpback whale hunting in the Nuuk fjord system by the municipality of Kommuneqarfik Sermersooq in Greenland. He explained the significance of traditional whaling in Greenland, as well as the political background for the adoption of this new policy based on the potential expansion of whale sightseeing trips for tourists.

6) Two cases of the British variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus were confirmed in Iceland during the past weekend, the first such cases in the country, as reported by RÚV. Þórólfur Guðnason, the country’s Chief epidemiologist, conveyed his concerns over whether a possible ‘fourth wave’ of the pandemic in Iceland would soon begin.