US Arctic Research Commission
November 24, 2010

Today's Events

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


Arctic Change: Consequences for Marine Life, November 25The 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.
Media Reviewtodaysevents

Senator Presses Spill Panel to Examine Australian Disaster: Dem to oil spill commission: Australian accident was a warning sign. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has an assignment for the presidential commission probing the BP oil spill. He wants the panel - and a separate National Academy of Engineering review - to probe whether the disaster could have been avoided "had the oil industry and U.S. oil regulators properly heeded the warning signs of the Montara oil spill off the western coast of Australia in 2009." The Hill


Fed okays polar bear "critical habitat." The Obama administration is setting aside Polar bear187,000 square miles of Alaska as a "critical habitat" for polar bears, an action that could add restrictions to future offshore drilling for oil and gas. Anchorage Daily News

Passage of Earmark Ban in Doubt. Senate proponents of a three-year moratorium on earmarks say they will not have enough votes to implement the reform measure when lawmakers consider the issue next week. "We got a long road here," said a Senate GOP aide who supports the measure. "We are 70 yards from the goal line, but I think momentum is on our side." The Hill


Cardin-McCain Whistleblower Bill Could be a Threat to US-Russian Ties. As the White House feverishly lobbies the Senate to approve a long-stalled nuclear-arms treaty, a bipartisan bill seeking answers in the suspicious death of a Russian attorney could escalate tensions between Washington and Moscow.  Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) as co-sponsor, introduced the Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Act of 2010 just before lawmakers went home to campaign this fall. Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) has offered companion legislation in the House. The Hill


Connecticut Coast Guard Cutter to Deploy to Great Lakes. A Connecticut-based USCG Cutter Morro BayCoast Guard cutter is scheduled to deploy to the Great Lakes Nov. 29, 2010, to assist in the service's icebreaking mission there throughout the winter months. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay, an 140-foot icebreaking tug, will arrive in the Great Lakes region a few weeks after it departs its homeport of New London, Conn. Coast Guard  


Federal Interagency Group Issues Peer-Reviewed 'Oil Budget' Technical Documentation: Oil Spill Calculations Released in August Undergo Further Review. The Federal Interagency Solutions Group, established at the request of the U.S. Coast Guard and authorized under a directive from the National Incident Commander (NIC), is releasing today a peer-reviewed report that details the scientific calculations of the Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spill "Oil Budget Calculator" response tool announced last August. The report, developed in collaboration with federal and independent scientists and following an extensive review of the initial findings, revises as necessary the estimated short-term fate of the oil discharged from the wellhead through mid-July when the well was capped.  NOAA


Secretary Locke Criticizes Escalation of Icelandic Whaling. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on Iceland's decision to resume international trade in fin whale meat, and its escalation of commercial whaling outside of the control of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Iceland killed 273 endangered fin whales in the last two years. IWC scientists fear removing more than 46 fin whales per year from the population is unsustainable. There is currently a global moratorium on commercial whaling, and a ban on international trade in fin whale meat. "The United States strongly opposes Iceland's defiance of the commercial whaling ban. We urge Iceland to cease international trade of whale meat and work with the international community to safeguard whale species," said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. "It is troubling that Iceland continues to pursue commercial whaling outside the boundaries of the IWC, without member oversight or analysis by the Commission's scientific committee." Department of Commerce


Researcher Back to Study Aboriginal Health.  Beaufort Delta residents could soonAK Native family drawing have more of a say when it comes to new health programs or research they'd like to see offered in the region.  Nutritionist Sangita 'Gita' Sharma, the former lead researcher for Healthy Foods North, is now a professor of aboriginal health at the University of Alberta and was recently appointed the school's endowed chair in aboriginal health. Northern News Services


Canadian Climate Research Fund Drying Up. The federal funding that supported most university-based weather and climate research for the past decade has almost run out, and there is no sign it will be renewed. The Ottawa-based Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, launched under prime minister Jean Chrétien's Liberal government in 2000, will have given out $118 million in research grants by the time it runs dry at the end of 2011. CBC News


Study Sees Polar Bears Losing Out to Grizzlies. Polar bears are likely to lose out to grizzly bears in fierce competition for food as climate change drives the two species closer together into shared habitat, biologists concluded in a study released on Tuesday. The research was based on 3-D computer modeling that compared the skull and jaw strength of the two bruins and found polar bears ill-suited to the tougher chewing demands posed by the largely vegetarian diet of their grizzly cousins. ABC New

Future Eventsfutureevents

Opening the Arctic: Science Challenges to Understanding the Impacts of Climate Change, November 30.  The Arctic poses unique challenges relative to climate change that will have profound implications for how the Navy operates and sustains its current and emerging missions in the Arctic. From reductions in seasonal sea ice that open up new shipping routes, to amplified coastal erosion, to melting permafrost, climate change is likely to alter the environment in ways that introduce new physical processes and unexpected ecological changes. This session will explore the variety of science challenges that now confront our understanding of the Arctic and the Navy's ability to conduct its activities on the sea and on land in an environmentally sound manner in this unique region.  
Canada-United States Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum, November 30- Canada-US flagsDecember 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 13-17The 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." 
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Arctic Town Hall Meeting at AGU, 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 AMSS 2011 promoSea, 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, 2011The 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, 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 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, 2011The 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. 685, Oil Spill Prevention Act (Referred to House subcommittee)

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