US Arctic Research Commission
April 18, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate have adjourned for the spring recess through May 2nd.

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


Obama Signs Spending Bill, But Takes Issue With Some Provisions. As President Obama signed the fiscal 2011 spending package into law, he said he will seek repeal of provisions barring the transfer of Guant?namo Bay prisoners to the United States and restricting their transfer to foreign countries. Obama also said his administration will not be bound by another provision that would eliminate White House policy positions often called policy "czars." 


Most Canadians Believe Penguins in Arctic: Survey. The majority of Canadians believe those living in the North live in igloos and penguins may live in the Arctic, a new survey has found. Up Here magazine, which is based in Yellowknife, NWT, surveyed 303 Canadians in February and found knowledge about the north is low. The results - "were shocking and hilarious", the magazine's editor, Katharine Sandiford, said in a release. Toronto Sun


Scientists Want Climate Change Early-Warning System: More ground stations needed to measure greenhouse gases. A better monitoring network for greenhouses gases is needed to warn of significant changes and to keep countries that have agreed to cut their emissions honest, scientists said in papers published on Monday. "What we're hoping to do is see if the warming is feeding the warming, particularly in the Arctic," said Euan Nisbet, a specialist in methane emissions at the University of London. They are concerned, for example, that as Arctic permafrost melts it would allow plant matter to rot and vent methane, a greenhouse gas which could trigger more warming. Montreal Gazette


Congress Reconsiders How to Regulate Arctic Drilling. Arctic offshore oil and gas drilling was front-and-center in Washington D.C. this week as the Republican-controlled House of Representatives opened new fronts in its battle against government regulation. Several bills have been introduced recently that aim to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its mandate to control air and water quality under the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. Alaska Dispatch 


Report Warns of 'Crumbling' Arctic. Arctic coastlines are crumbling away and retreating at the rate of two meters or more a year due to the effects of climate change, it has been claimed. In some locations, up to 30 meters of the shore has been vanishing every year. The rapid rate of coastal erosion poses a major threat to local communities and ecosystems, according to a new report by more than 30 scientists from ten countries. Two-thirds of Arctic coasts consist of frozen soil, or permafrost, rather than rock, and are highly sensitive to erosion by wind and waves. Rising temperatures are melting protective sea ice fringing the coastlines and leaving them more exposed to the elements, say the experts. The report, "State of the Arctic Coast 2010", says ten-year average rates of coastal retreat are "typically in the one to two metres per year range, but vary up to 10 to 30 meters per year in some locations". Worst-hit areas include the Beaufort Sea, the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea. Press Association


Marinette Marine Celebrates New Ship: Celebrates new ship, working returning. Work is beginning on the University of  Alaska Fairbanks' research vessel, the Sikuliaq. The ship will be 261 feet long and will be able to travel in ice-filled waters. Fox 11 


UAA Campus Celebrates Chancellor Fran Ulmer. Thursday afternoon, the University of Alaska Anchorage campus honored outgoing UAA Chancellor Fran Ulmer, who is retiring this spring. A former lieutenant governor and gubernatorial candidate, Ulmer is set to end yet another phase of her long career of public service. While she is leaving UAA, she's not retiring from public service altogether. President Barack Obama has appointed Ulmer as Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission and previously served on the president's commission on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. KTVA  


What do the Chinese Want in the Arctic? [Commentary] In 1999, the Chinese sailed, during their first Arctic voyage, into Tuktoyaktuk, NWT, after encountering difficulties navigating through heavy ice. Everyone in town, including the RCMP, was surprised to see them there, but shouldn't have been; the Chinese had asked for, and received, permission to enter Canadian waters weeks before, but the request was never communicated to the proper authorities. As a result, the event became a symbol of Canada's inability to monitor its waters and defend its sovereignty. Alaska Dispatch


Beaufort Sea Commercial Fishing Banned. Commercial fishing is off-limits in the Beaufort Sea, according to a new agreement between the federal government and the Inuvialuit people of the western Arctic. The memorandum of understanding, which both parties signed Friday in Inuvik, N.W.T., is the first step towards a comprehensive ocean management plan in the Beaufort Sea. CBC News


BOEMRE Awards $858,900 to Study Health of Important Subsistence Fish Populations in Alaska: Project will obtain baseline data for Arctic fish species. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) announced today that it has awarded a Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) grant for $858,900 to the state of Alaska's Department of Natural Resources. These funds will enable the department to study the life cycles of a variety of fish species, used for subsistence purposes by area residents, that inhabit the waters around Admiralty Bay, about 40 miles southwest of Barrow on Alaska's far northern coast. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement 


Murkowski Seeks Comments on Draft Legislation to Address Nation's Critical Minerals Supply Chain. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released a discussion draft of legislation designed to revitalize the nation's critical minerals supply chain. Murkowski is asking for public comments on the draft by May 6. "Minerals are the building blocks of our economy," said Murkowski, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "From rare earth elements to molybdenum, we rely on minerals for everything from the smallest computer chips to the tallest skyscrapers. This draft bill provides clear, programmatic direction to keep us competitive with foreign nations and promote a stable supply of critical minerals."  Senator Lisa Murkowski 


Update: Coast Guard Host Meetings with Russia's Northeast Border Directorate in Kodiak, Anchorage. Rear Adm. Christopher Colvin, commander of the 17th Coast Guard District, is scheduled to host a bi-annual commanders meeting with Russian Lt. Gen. Raphael Alexeseevich Daerbaev, the chief of the Northeast Border Directorate of the Federal Security Service of Russia in Anchorage and Kodiak Sunday thru Wednesday. The 17th District and the NBD routinely coordinate international fisheries enforcement operations, responses to distresses at sea and law enforcement operations along the U.S./Russian Maritime Boundary Line in the Bering Sea. These meetings are held to review ongoing and future operations for cooperative efforts against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, mutual maritime law enforcement activities and future activities in the Arctic, the Bering Sea and the North Pacific. U.S. Coast Guard


Lab Puts Sea Life to an Acid Test. Biologists at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center are doing some of the most sophisticated work anywhere to see how the marine world responds to a major side effect of fossil-fuel emissions: increasingly corrosive seas. As oceans absorb evermore carbon dioxide, pH levels of the world's seas have been dropping. And recent experiments in laboratories around the globe show such shifts in ocean chemistry can spark bizarre and serious changes in plants and animals.


NOAA Awards Contract to Manage Fairbanks Satellite Operations Facility. NOAA officials today announced that ASRC Aerospace Corp., of Greenbelt, Md., has been awarded a contract to operate and maintain the agency's Fairbanks Satellite Operations Facility (FSOF) located in Fairbanks, Alaska. Nestled in Alaska's Gilmore Valley, FSOF is farther north than any other satellite communications facility in North America. As a result, it receives more environmental satellite data than any other station and is a vital link to satellites operated by NOAA and other agencies. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.R. 1473, Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act.

(Rogers- presented to the President)

Future Events     


What does the National Ocean Policy Mean for the Arctic Region, On April 19, 2011, University of Alaska Fairbank's "Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy" (ACCAP) will host a webinar titled "What does the National Ocean Policy mean for the Arctic region?"  Please join Dr. Cheryl Rosa, of the US Arctic Research Commission and Dr. Mary Boatman from the Executive Office of the President, to learn about the development of a strategic action plan for changing conditions in the Arctic, and to share your comments, questions, and ideas.


The Arctic as a Messenger for Global Processes- Climate Change and Pollution (pdf), May 4-6, 2011. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), the University of Copenhagen, and Aarhus University. The conference will include talks by invited keynote speakers, oral presentations selected on the basis of submitted abstracts, poster presentations, and short oral presentations of selected posters. A panel discussion will develop messages to be communicated to the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting that will take place in Greenland one week after the conference. 

Sixth International Conference on Arctic Margins, May 31-June 2, 2011 at the University of Alaska - Fairbanks. The International Conference on Arctic Margins (ICAM) will examine current geological and geophysical research on the Arctic. Topics include: hydrocarbon potential and gas hydrates; science issues relating to UNCLOS Article 76; geodynamic significance of Arctic magmatism; vertical motions in the Arctic, tectonic, and glacial; geology and palaeogeography of the Arctic continental margins; evolution of the Arctic Ocean basins, including plate reconstructions, magmatism, and sedimentology; modern Arctic environments, including geological, climatic, and oceanographic processes; recent advances in Arctic research technology. More information email.  


American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium, June 5-14. This policy colloquium brings together a group to consider atmospheric policy.  The colloquium will cover policy creation basics, interactions with congressional staff, and information on the current atmospheric policy issues. 


The Arctic Imperative, June 19-21, 2011. The Alaska Dispatch, Aspen Institute, Commonwealth North, and the Institute of the North will host a forum titled "The Arctic Imperative: Think of the Bering Strait as the Next Panama Canal."  The forum will bring together international policymakers, industry, and investment leaders to consider topics just as security, resources, port development, marine shipping, commerce, and trade.


4th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations, June 20-21, 2011.  The symposium is co-hosted by the U.S. icediminisharcticNational Ice Center (NIC) and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. This symposium addresses present and future impacts of rapid changes in Arctic Ocean sea ice cover on a wide range of maritime operations. The forum, the fourth in a series, is a key opportunity for federal entities to discuss their response to changes in both the Arctic environment and associated policies.


Holocene Glacier Variability from the Tropics to the Poles, July 20-27, 2011. Glaciers respond sensitively to climate change. Recent (Holocene) glacier fluctuations are a valuable proxy for terrestrial interglacial paleoclimate conditions. A main challenge for interpreting paleoclimate from past mountain glacier extents is distinguishing local and regional patterns from global signals. Reconstructing Holocene glacier extents involves many disciplines including terrestrial and marine geology, geochronology and glaciology. Organizers hope to facilitate an inter-hemispheric comparison of glacier records including locations in the Tropics, European Alps, American Cordillera, Southern Alps of New Zealand, Himalaya and Polar Regions and to identify future research questions and directions. For additional information contact: Meredith Kelly.  


7th Congress of the International Arctic Social Sciences, June 22-26, 2011

The 7th Congress, "Circumpolar Perspectives in Global Dialogue: Social Sciences Beyond the IPY," will be held in Akureyri, Iceland. The International Congress of the Arctic Social Sciences is held every three years. 

13th Arctic Ungulates Conference (AUC), August 22-26, 2011. The theme of the conference will be "Challenges of Managing Northern Ungulates." The theme Muskokaddresses the difficulties of managing ungulate populations that are faced with the unpredictable effects of climate change and an ever-increasing human presence on the land. The conference will also focus on the challenges associated with developing recovery actions for declining caribou and reindeer populations that are an integral part of Aboriginal cultures and ways of life. 
9th International Symposium on Permafrost Engineering, September 3-7, 2011. The Melnikov Permafrost Institute (Yakutsk, Russia), the Institute of Northern Mining (Yakutsk, Russia), the Cold and Arid Regions Engineering and Environmental Research Institute (Lanzhou, China), and the Heilongjiang Institute of Cold Region  Engineering (Harbin, China) will host the Ninth International Symposium on  Permafrost Engineering to be held in Mirny, Yakutia. The aim of the Symposium is to provide a forum for discussion of permafrost engineering issues, as well as for exchange of practical experience in construction and maintenance of engineering structures on frozen ground. For additional information, please contact Lilia Prokopieva. 


4th International Sea Duck Conference, September 12-16. The conference is held to provide researchers and managers with opportunities to share information, research, and conduct workshops.


Lowell Wakefield International Fisheries Symposium, September 14-17, 2011. The 27th Lowell Wakefield International Fisheries Symposium, entitled "Fishing People of the North: Cultures, Economies, and Management Responding to Change," will be held in Anchorage, Alaska. This international symposium will provide a forum for scholars, fishery managers, fishing families, and others to explore the human dimensions of fishery systems and growing need to include social science research in policy processes. The conference is part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sea Grant program.    


Advanced Workshop on Oil Spills In Sea Ice: Past, Present and Future

A technical workshop, organized by Dr. Peter Wadhams, on the physical problems associated with oil spills and blowouts in sea ice will be held at the Istituto Geografico Polare "Silvio Zavatti," Fermo, Italy, on September 20-23, 2011. Scientists, engineers and policy makers are invited to address the questions of how oil is emitted from a blowout or spill, how the oil and gas are incorporated in the under-ice surface, how the oil layer evolves, how the oil is transported by the ice, and how and where eventual release occur. The aim is to incorporate the experience of those scientists who worked in this field in the 1970s-1990s, when large-scale field experiments involving oil release were possible, and to relate this to the needs of present researchers who are seeking solutions to the problem of a sustainable Arctic oil spill management system. Notably, the workshop will be attended by the oil spill work package of the EU ACCESS project (Arctic Climate Change and its Effect on Economic Systems). Registration forms are available here


The Tenth International Conference on Permafrost, June 2012. The conference permafrostwill be held in Tyumen, Russia, and is organized and hosted by Russia. The last conference was held in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2008.  More details to follow. 


Arctic/ Inuit/ Connections: Learning from the Top of the World, October 24-28, 2012.  The 18th Inuit Studies Conference, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, will be held in Washington, DC. The conference will consider heritage museums and the North; globalization: an Arctic story; power, governance and politics in the North; the '"new" Arctic: social, cultural and climate change; and Inuit education, health, language, and literature. For more information, please email Lauren Marr.



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