US Arctic Research Commission
January 18, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents


The House is in session and expected to consider legislation to repeal the 2010 health care overhaul law. Senate is in recess.

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


float coat

Photo credit: Stephanie Aguvluk

'Float Coats' Keep Arctic Sea Hunters Safer. Gordon Brower has been hunting bowhead whales for most of his 47 years, forgoing life jackets because no one made them in white, the only color that works as camouflage on Alaska's icy arctic coast. Now, the whaling captain from Barrow and other Eskimo whalers have begun to wear personal flotation devices, custom-made in the white they've traditionally used to make them more invisible to their massive prey. (Kudos to USCG). Washington Post 


Addressing Suicide Means a New Direction. (Opinion John Tetpon). In light of utter failures over the last two decades, it is clear to me that we need to change direction and adopt new strategies. We can no longer enlist old and tired programs that produce nothing more than pages of useless paper. Anchorage Daily News


For ANTHC, improving community health includes safe water. In rural Alaska, the only thing greater than the challenges of construction are the rewards of bringing projects to the finish line that deliver clean, safe water to remote villages for the first time. AK Jour. of Commerce

After a Week Delayed by Tragedy, House Set to Shift Back into Gear. Delayed a week by the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), House Republicans are ready to get back to business. Although the Arizona tragedy spurred a host of proposals tackling gun control, congressional security and mental-health reform - issues directly related to the shooting - GOP leaders have brushed aside those concerns to focus instead on the bread-and-butter campaign promises that helped propel them to the majority in November. The Hill


Senate Budget Chairman Conrad Retiring. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election next year, leaving congressional Democrats without their leading deficit hawk. Conrad, first elected in 1986, said in a statement that he wanted to give his full attention in the 112th Congress to addressing the nation's fiscal crisis. "There are serious challenges facing our state and nation, like a $14 trillion debt and America's dependence on foreign oil," Conrad said. "It is more important I spend my time and energy trying to solve these problems than to be distracted by a campaign for re-election." Congressional Quarterly


Wild Salmon Decline Was Not Caused by Sea Lice from Farm Salmon, New Research Suggests. A new UC Davis study contradicts earlier reports that salmon farms were responsible for the 2002 population crash of wild pink salmon in the Broughton Archipelago of western Canada. Science Daily


Alaska Native Groups to Sue Feds Over Polar Bear Habitat. Governor Sean Polar bearParnell has welcomed the effort by Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) and other Alaska Native groups to block the federal government's designation of more than 187,000 square miles of critical habitat for polar bears. GovMonitor


Rep. Young Chosen to Represent Region One On Republican Policy Committee. Alaskan Congressman Don Young has once again been selected to represent Region One on the Republican Policy Committee, representing Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.  Congressman Young was also the Region One Representative for the 111th Congress.  The Committee serves as the principal forum for the consideration of forward-looking legislative initiatives and as an important means for every member of the Republican Conference to transform sound legislative ideas into meaningful legislation. Congressman Don Young


Coast Guard Releases Report on Sinking of Alaska Ranger. The Coast Guard released Wednesday its final report of the investigation into the March 23, 2008, sinking of the fish-processing vessel Alaska Ranger and the subsequent loss of five of the 47 people aboard the ship. The Alaska Ranger sank approximately 130 miles west of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Of the 47 people aboard, 42 were rescued, four deceased crewmembers were recovered and one remains missing and is presumed dead. The Coast Guard rescued 20 of the Alaska Ranger's crew through multiple hoists conducted by HH-60 and HH-65 helicopters, with survivors being transported to and cared for aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Munro. The fishing vessel Alaska Warrior rescued 22 survivors from two liferafts and recovered three deceased crew members from the frigid water. The fourth deceased crewmember was recovered by the Coast Guard. Coast Guard 


Greens Worry About Spill in Remote Arctic. Russian environmentalists say they'll ask BP and Rosneft shareholders to block joint oil-drilling plans in the Arctic, saying they fear a risk of disaster. If an oil spill occurred in the remote area, environmentalists said it could be unreachable for up to nine months. UPI


Climate Change May Affect Climate Biodiversity. Three local scientists merged their studies to provide a look at how the changing arctic environment can affect species through hybridization. Their work led to a commentary article published last month in Nature, an international science journal. The lead author on the article, titled "The Arctic Melting Pot," was Brendan Kelly, who was working at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Mammal Laboratory. The other authors are David Tallmon of the University of Alaska Southeast's biology and marine biology faculty and Andrew Whiteley of the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Whiteley worked with Tallmon on post-graduate studies at UAS when they began efforts in this study. The research leading to the article took a couple years to complete. Juneau Empire


UN Report Calls for Sami Language Boost. A UN report examining the human samirights situation of Sami people in Sweden, Finland and Norway calls on the Nordic states to provide Sami parliaments with more funding to help boost general knowledge of the  indigenous Arctic people, their language and their culture. The report notes that overall, each of the Nordic countries pays a high level of attention to indigenous issues, but that more remains to be done to ensure that the Sami enjoy the full range of rights that are guaranteed to indigenous peoples. Drafted by the United Nations' special rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, the report pays particular attention to efforts "to revitalize Sami languages and provide children and youth of that minority with an appropriate education". Barents Observer


Norway, Greenland Agree Data Exchange. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has signed a framework agreement with Greenland's Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum (BMP) to exchange information concerning resource management. In addition to a general exchange of experience, BMP aims to cooperate with the NPD on data management. One focus is exploration and exploitation of petroleum resources in the Arctic. The framework agreement can be supplemented with sub-agreements in specific areas. Offshore

Legislative Actionfutureevents

No legislative action was taken yesterday.

Future Eventsfutureevents

Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 17-21. Within each theme (Bering AMSS 2011 promoSea, Arctic Ocean, and Gulf of Alaska), presenters will discuss climate, oceanography, lower trophic levels, the benthos, fish and invertebrates, seabirds, marine mammals, local and traditional knowledge, and socioeconomic research.
National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment, January 19-21. One of the conference themes is "White Arctic/Blue Arctic." This theme will address ice changes in the Arctic to consider several questions: What does science tell us about the future of the Arctic? How would issues about the future - white or blue - be resolved? What models and monitoring data will be required to support an emerging management regime that would allow for sustainable use of the Arctic? How can use of the Arctic and its resources be managed in the face of these possibilities?

95th meeting of the USARC, Jan. 21, Anchorage. The USARC will meet in the usarc logo smallQuadrant room of the Captain Cook Hotel, starting at 8:30 am. A detailed agenda is now available at

Public Forum on Natural Gas Markets, January 22. The federal coordinator's office for the Alaska natural gas pipeline will sponsor a public forum on gas markets Jan. 22 to help Alaskans better understand the supply-and-demand fundamentals affecting the proposed pipeline project. The Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects will bring to Alaska several national experts on Lower 48 supply and demand issues including shale gas, the effect of federal clean air regulations on natural gas demand, and foreign markets for liquefied natural gas. Panelists


Arctic Tipping Points, January 23-29, 2011. Arctic Frontiers will host a conferenceseesaw considering the following topics: Ice-ocean-atmosphere interactions in the Arctic;  Marine ecosystems and fisheries; Socioeconomic and institutional perspectives; and People of the North. 

State of the Union, January 25.  The President will address a joint session of Congress to present the State of the Union.


President's Budget, February 7. By statute, the president is required to submit his annual budget proposal to Congress by the first Monday in February.
Arctic Technology Conference, February 7-9, 2011. The Arctic is one of the few places on the globe which still holds enormous new petroleum reserve potential. A recently completed USGS survey estimated that 20% of the world's remaining reserves were trapped beneath the Arctic Circle. OTC's inaugural Arctic Technology Conference (ATC), 7-9 February 2011 in Houston, Texas, will be a truly global event focused on the cutting-edge technologies and innovative practices needed for exploration and production in the Arctic.

International Conference on Arctic Marine Science, International Law and Climate Protection, March 17-18. The German Federal Foreign Office is hosting an event that will take place on the Berlin premises of the Federal Office. The event is co-hosted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, with additional support from prominent research institutes. The Conference will discuss the legal framework for marine scientific research in the Arctic Ocean at present and in the future. Scholars, scientists and diplomats with an interest in the Arctic Ocean are invited to attend. For more information, please contact

Arctic Dialogue & Study Tour, March 22-24, 2011. For the past four years Norway's Bod? University Graduate School of Business, the High North Centre for Business and Governance (affiliated with the University), the International Institute of Energy Politics and Diplomacy (MIEP) at MGIMO University in Moscow, Russia, and HBW Resources have hosted an annual Arctic Dialogue and Study Tour.  The tour brings together stakeholders from all Arctic nations (government, industries, academic, native and local peoples) to discuss issues involving resource development in the Arctic, share common experiences, best practices and solutions. For more information contact Andrew Browning.


Arctic Science Summit Week, Seoul, March 28-April 1, 2011. The purpose of Korean Flagthe Arctic Science Summit Week is to provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in all fields of Arctic science. The Arctic Science Week 2011 is supported by the Korean government, the Korean Research Council of Fundamental Science & Technology, and the Seoul Tourism Organization, among other groups.

The Arctic as a Messenger for Global Processes- Climate Change and Pollution, 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.
7th Congress of the International Arctic Social Sciences, June 22-26, 2011The 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. 
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.
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 i s 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.
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.


The Tenth International Conference on Permafrost, June 2012. The conference will 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.

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