Arctic News Roundup: 22-28 March

[Photo by Mingming Shi]

by Mingming Shi

1) A species of bird known as the Golden plover, (or Lóa in Icelandic), has been spotted in Iceland, according to Vísir, a local news service. This migratory species is widely regarded in Iceland as the messenger of spring.

2) A new postgraduate diploma programme on Arctic Studies is now available at the University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands) in Reykjavík. The programme, consisting of thirty credits, provides several courses on regional politics, Indigenous affairs and international relations in the Arctic region.

3) Condé Nast Traveler published an article on how Greenland has been promoting its tourism sector in a methodical and cautious manner. The authors outlined the measurements for the industry’s development adopted by Greenland. The policies are to welcome more visitors, once circumstances allow, but also to address the potential problems of over-tourism, including creating and strengthening various travelling themes and characters for different parts of the island, planning to better improve transportation options, and prioritizing local businesses.

4) A new OtC article by Marc Lanteigne was published on the subject of the Czech Republic’s recent application to join the Arctic Council as a formal observer. This piece summarised the benefits Prague could bring to the organization, including stressing the contributions of Czech scientific research to High North studies, mutual concerns about Arctic climate change, the country’s engagement with polar Indigenous groups, and Prague’s current relations with the eight Arctic states.

5) As the Helsinki Times reported, despite the strict border restrictions which the government of Finland implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country is still seeing many arrivals from one of its nearest neighbours, Estonia. Most of the cross border travellers from Estonia to Finland are essential workers. Overall border crossings, including from Estonia as well as elsewhere in the Nordic region, were sharply down in 2020 as compared with the previous year.

6) As Greenland prepares for an election on 6 April, it was reported in Arctic Today that, based on a new survey, many people in the country are becoming more sceptical of the government. Corruption concerns were singled out as a major problem which has eroded public trust in the country’s lawmakers and civil servants.

7) Many news services, including CNN, have reported on the findings of a new study by the University of Washington, published by the journal Geophysical Research Letters, which suggest that the number of lightning strikes in the Arctic has increased significantly, tripling during the past decade. The Siberian region saw the most dramatic increase in lightning activity. This phenomenon, which has been linked to climate change, has been blamed for an increase in wildfires throughout much of the region in the summer months.

8) Higher temperatures and thinning sea ice in northern Labrador are having a significant effect on the local economy, including hunting practices, in a feature story by CBC News. Communities in the region are concerned about the trend towards warmer winters having a longer-term impact on traditional ways of life, and are calling for greater government attention to the situation.