US Arctic Research Commission
November 22, 2010

Today's Events

The House and Senate are in recess for Thanksgiving.  Both chambers will reconvene on Monday, November 29th.

International Arctic Conference: Geopolitical Issues and Equations in the 21st Century, November 22-23. The Conference objectives are threefold : To bring together a variety of scientific expertise to stimulate debate and promote further research in the academic world (researchers and students) - To disseminate the state of knowledge on the transformation of the Arctic and its governance to a larger public - To influence official policy.   The Conference is organized around four themes, arranged in the following sessions : - The Arctic: a geographic space in transformation - The Native peoples, political actors - Frontiers and international law - Regional and international regulations.
Media Reviewtodaysevents


Lessons from Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. In the 24-hour news cycle era, the Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico already feels like an event from yesteryear, an event that had its 15 minutes of news domination during the summer of 2010 then made room for the next big story once the wellhead was capped. [Roll Call article]


Senate Confirms Lew as OMB Director. The Senate confirmed Jack Lew as director of the Office of Management and Budget by unanimous consent late Thursday after Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., lifted a hold that had stalled the nomination since September. Landrieu's hold was a protest against the White House's moratorium on deep-water oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill. Landrieu, who said the moratorium was worsening economic damage from the spill, kept the hold in place even after the drilling ban was lifted last month, as she sought "a clear path forward" for issuing federal permits for deep-water drilling in the gulf. Government Executive


Norway Steps Up Mapping of Arctic Oil.  The Norwegian government will allocate another 180 million NOK to seismic mapping in its Arctic waters. Barents Observer


Murkowski: Native American Challenge Act Heads to Senate. U.S Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has announced that the Senate Indian Affairs committee passed the Native American Challenge Demonstration Project Act of 2010. The bill, championed by Murkowski, is cosponsored by Sens. Mark Begich D-Alaska, Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii and Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii. Passed by the Committee on Thursday, the bill would direct the Secretary of Commerce to establish the Native American Challenge Demonstration Project which would allow tribes, tribal organizations, and Native Hawaiian organizations to enter into newly created 'Native Challenge Compacts.' Under these Compacts, the Department of Commerce and eligible organizations would negotiate an economic development strategy to address poverty in Native communities. In addition, the Compacts would allow these same organizations to use federal economic development funds more efficiently by coordinating and integrating funds provided by the Departments of Commerce; Agriculture; Energy; Interior; Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development. Murkowski Press Release


Bering Strait Port Access Route Study Available for Public Comments. The Coast Guard is currently seeking input from the public to evaluate the need for establishing vessel routing measures in the Bering Strait. The port access route study will assess whether the creation of a vessel routing system is advisable to increase the predictability of vessel movements which may decrease the potential for collisions, oil spills and other events that could threaten the marine environment.  Coast Guard Press Release


Alaska's Arctic Tundra Feeling the Heat. The amount of baked Alaska is increasing, but not on the dessert cart. In the Alaskan arctic, fires may become more severe and frequent as the climate warms. The Anaktuvuk River fire burned more than 621 square miles of tundra on Alaska's North Slope in 2007. The area hadn't seen a fire of that scale in at least 5000 years, according to research led by Feng Sheng Hu of the University of Illinois. The Anaktuvuk fire made Hu wonder if massive burning was a regular occurrence in the arctic, or a new phenomenon, possibly caused by climate warming. Discovery

arctic shippingFuture Eventsfutureevents

Arctic Change: Consequences for Marine Life, November 25.  The event is organized as part of the Willem Barentsz Polar Institute as part of the "Poolnacht van Groningen." Presentations will include: Arctic Sea Ice- changes and consequences, Physical and Biological Changes in the Arctic Ocean, The Effects of Past Climate Changes on Abundance and Migration of Marine Mammals in Polar Regions, Sonar Exposure on Marine Mammals, Animal Health in a Changing Arctic, The Modern Whaling Industry in the Arctic: Diffusion and adoptions of a technical system, Sustainability of the Russian Walrus Hunt on Spitsbergen in the 18th Century, Mercury as a Global Pollutant and Its Effect on the Arctic, and The Future of the Arctic.
Canada-United States Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum, November 30- December 2, 2010. The Second Canada - United States Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum will examine the current status and future directions for the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, North Slope and Mackenzie Delta.  The forum will focus on technical, engineering and scientific research under the following topic areas: safety on northern offshore platforms & escape, evacuation and rescue issues; oil spill prevention in the Arctic; oil spill management in the Arctic; Transportation logistics for exploration and development in the Arctic; ice engineering issues for offshore platforms; environmental conditions in exploration areas; monitoring for cumulative effects in the Arctic; exploration and development in sensitive coastal habitats.
Arctic Policy 101, December 1-3. PNWER's (Pacific NorthWest Economic Region) newly formed Arctic Caucus is hosting this preliminary meeting in Barrow.  The Caucus formed in October to "provide a forum to share information and develop regional policies on the Arctic and Arctic development." 
Federal Funding, December 3.  The current continuing resolution expires on December 3rd.
American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, December 13-17.  The fall meeting will include sessions on "Extratropical and High-latitude Storms, Teleconnections, and Changing Climate," "Bringing Together Environmental, Socio-Economic, and Climatic Change Studies in Northern Eurasia," "The Use of Observations for Evaluating CMIP5/IPCC Simulations," and "The Future of Polar Science: The Path Beyond the IPY." 
Arctic Town Hall, December 15.  The National Science Foundation, Division of Arctic Sciences, will host a town hall meeting.  For additional information, please contact William Wiseman
New Congress, January 3.  The 112th Congress begins.
Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 17-21. Within each theme (Bering Sea, Arctic Ocean, and Gulf of Alaska), presenters will discuss climate, oceanography, lower trophic levels, the benthos, fishes 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?
Arctic Tipping Points, January 23-29, 2011. Arctic Frontiers will host a conference considering the following topics: Ice-ocean-atmosphere interactions in the Arctic; Marine ecosystems and fisheries; Socioeconomic and institutional perspectives; and People of the North.
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 Science Summit Week, Seoul, March 28-April 1, 2011.  The purpose of the 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.
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, 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. 
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 addresses 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.
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.


president signing
Legislative Action

S. Res. 689, a resolution recognizing National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month and celebrating the heritage and culture of American Indians and Alaska Natives and the contributions of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the United States. (Passed in the Senate by unanimous consent)