The Contribution of Space Technologies to Arctic Policy Priorities

anomaly as it travels through the grid (C-CORE and HAL, 2012). Energy transmission companies use GNSS for pipeline leak detection surveys by aircraft, and use GNSS-equipped pigging tools that travel through pipelines to collect precise positions of defects in the pipe. Similar to resource development, GNSS have broad ranging impacts in infrastructure development in the Arctic. There is a need for effective GNSS services in both the development of this infrastructure and its ongoing management.

and cost-efficient intercontinental shipping is a key economic driver for Arctic development. Global recognition of the Northern Sea route and Northwest Passage as new alternative trade routes has spurred significant infrastructure investment on the part of Arctic states, as well as a global demand for ice- capable shipping vessels. The current focus is to develop a multi-modal transport system improving the connections within the region and with neighbouring countries. Specific areas of concern include:

yy Improvement in safety and maintenance of road transport;


yy Modernization and development of railways

EO has only limited applications in infrastructure development in the Arctic, primarily in the preliminary planning for location of assets, where high resolution optical imagery is a useful tool for investigating location and routing alternatives.

yy Improved efficiency of existing capacity in maritime ports;

yy Promotion of multi-modal transport; and

yy Safety during periods of ice break-up (river and sea ice are frequently used as efficient means of transport in the North).


The immense clouds of material (called coronal mass ejections) that are periodically emitted during solar wind activities can cause large magnetic storms in the space environment around the planet. As the earth’s magnetic field is concentrated at the poles, high latitudes are particularly impacted by these space weather disturbances. The impacts of space weather are perhaps best known and documented with respect to electric power grids (HAL, 2010). During major geomagnetic disturbances, geomagnetically induced currents (GIC) are produced by the magnetic field variations that occur. GIC flows to ground through substation transformers, which can lead to transformer burn-out and unwanted relay operations, suddenly tripping out power lines. As compensators switch out of service, entire system stability can be affected. Variations of the Earth’s magnetic field also induce electric currents in long conducting pipelines and the surrounding soil (currents as high as 1,000 amperes have been detected). During magnetic storms, these variations can be large enough to increase the corrosion rate of the pipeline. The lifetime of the Alaskan pipeline is now estimated to be many years shorter than originally planned due to the impacts of such storms ( The type of research that is being undertaken with support from dedicated science space systems (e.g., proposed Radiation Belt Storm Probe (RBSP) mission) is a key to understanding and eventually predicting hazardous events in the Earth’s radiation belts and magnetic fields. An improved understanding of space weather will assist Arctic interests to better predict potential impacts on technology systems and infrastructure (i.e., communication cables, power systems, pipelines and radio communication and navigation systems) as well as better prepare systems to be more robust and resilient. 6.3 Transportation Efficiency 6.3.1 Overview Improvement of the North’s transport efficiency is important for the overall development and viability of the region. More time

When addressing these areas, factors unique to the Arctic region must be addressed, including use of ice-breakers, expensive road maintenance, and associated customs procedures as well as high logistics costs for industry to maintain the transportation systems. 6.3.2 Policy Transportation, largely in terms of maritime shipping and transport, is among the priorities or objectives of the strategies and policies of Finland, Iceland, Russia, Canada and the USA; this is less so in the policies of Denmark/Greenland, Norway, Sweden and the EU. yy One of the priority areas of the US Arctic Policy is maritime transportation “to facilitate safe, secure and reliable navigation” and “to protect maritime commerce and the environment”. yy Iceland has a particularly strong emphasis on shipping and northern sea routes, such as trans-Arctic routes, but also on aviation. yy Russia, similar to Iceland, emphasizes “management and effective use of cross-polar air routes and the Northern Sea route for international navigation.” (Heininen, 2011). yy The Canadian Arctic Foreign Policy document notes that the improvement of sea and air transportation routes is a key priority. yy The EU Strategy for the Arctic Region notes that Member States have the world’s largest merchant fleet and many of those ships use trans-oceanic routes. The melting of sea ice is progressively opening opportunities to navigate on routes through Arctic waters. This could considerably reduce the distance of trips from Europe to the Pacific. The policy also has an objective of gradually introducing arctic commercial navigation, while promoting stricter safety and environmental standards, and defending “the principle of freedom of navigation”.


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