The Contribution of Space Technologies to Arctic Policy Priorities
yy Russia’s Fundamentals of State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic in the Period up to 2020 and Beyond policy document includes construction of ten permanent stations of the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations along the Northern Sea Route, in cooperation with the Hydro- Meteorological Service. yy The report, Nordic Cooperation on Foreign and Security Policy , proposes that a Nordic disaster response unit be established for dealing with large-scale disasters and accidents in the Nordic region and in other countries (Stoltenberg, 2009). 4.6.3 Role of Satellite Systems COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS (Impact Medium) Effective communication is imperative in times of disaster. Thus an efficient communication system which will work in adverse conditions is required. This can draw on satellite technologies for mobile phone applications or two-way satellite radio. Weather forecasts are integral components of disaster response operations during both planning and execution stages. Disasters frequently arise during inclement weather, and as a consequence accurate weather information is required to assess which assets may be employed and determine optimal windows of opportunity for rapid response, while ensuring the safety of emergency response personnel. Weather and associated information (e.g. sea surface temperature) also feed into models predicting search areas and life expectancy. GNSS are commonly employed in the disaster response phase by first responders attempting to navigate quickly to affected areas. The technology may also be employed for data collection and mapping during response, to help monitor changes in real time, and post-disaster, to assist with planning and implementing disaster recovery work. Research is ongoing on the use of GNSS for very precise geodynamics measurements, which may be used in the future for disaster mitigation by producing early warnings of impending disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. Potential disasters with significant impact on communities and municipalities throughout the Arctic include flooding and accidental contaminant spills. Flooding may occur due to ice jams in rivers, substantial rainfall or snow melt over frozen ground, and as a result of storm surges. In the latter case, flooding conditions may be exacerbated by significant coastal erosion. Some locations may also be sensitive to inundation caused by outburst floods from glacial lakes. Contaminant spills, largely oil, are likely to occur as a result of increased resource extraction and trans-Arctic vessel traffic as receding summer ice cover makes the Arctic more accessible. In addition, the impact of changing ice and permafrost conditions on critical infrastructures and transportation links is of concern. Finally, certain areas may be affected by earthquakes and volcanoes. WEATHER SYSTEMS (Impact Medium) NAVIGATION SYSTEMS (Impact Medium) EARTH OBSERVATION SYSTEMS (Impact High)
EO imagery can be invaluable during the planning and response phases of the disaster management cycle. If weather conditions are conducive, optical EO can provide detailed information about the extent of the disaster, the type of destruction that has occurred, and the areas most severely impacted. EO data is also used to guide response and mitigation efforts. Satellite SAR data delivers valuable information during bad weather conditions and at night. SAR imagery is also the primary means of observing ice over large areas as well as the detection and monitoring of marine oil spills.
5. ENVIRONMENT 5.1 Pollution 5.1.1 Overview
Pollution occurs when contaminants are introduced into a natural environment (i.e., the air, water or soil) that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem. In the Arctic, the major sources of pollution are from the following sources: yy Air pollution – smoke and particulates from extraction of minerals, oil and gas; volcanic eruptions; pollution from natural or manmade disasters yy Water pollution – wastewater discharges from extraction of minerals and oil; oil spills from illegal bilge pumping and accidental tanker ruptures; pollution from natural or manmade disasters. The accidental release of oil or toxic chemicals as a result of increased shipping is considered one of the most serious threats to Arctic ecosystems. Pollution is expected to become a much more significant problem as the Arctic region becomes more industrialized and marine transportation through Arctic waters becomes commonplace. In addition, the Arctic is being significantly impacted by transboundary pollution (i.e., pollution form one jurisdiction that is transported and deposited in another jurisdiction). For example, wind currents are bringing pollution from the South into the Arctic, as do rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean. Many of the major ocean currents also flow through the Arctic, which transport pollution to the region (Safe Drinking Water Foundation, 2007). 5.1.2 Policy Dealing with pollution in the Arctic is referenced in several of the Arctic nations’ policy documents. yy Canada’s Northern Strategy: Our North, Our Heritage, Our Future proposes taking concrete measures to protect Arctic waters by introducing new ballast water control regulations, and assessing the capacity to respond to Arctic pollution events and environmental emergencies. yy Soil contamination – leaching frommining tailings; pollution from natural or manmade disasters There are also significant stockpiles of nuclear waste in northern Russia.
yy The Canadian Arctic Foreign Policy identifies enhancing its efforts, including pursuing and strengthening international
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