US Arctic Research Commission
April 11, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


Last-Minute Deal Prevents a Shutdown. Congress late Friday narrowly averted a government shutdown after Democrats and Republicans agreed to cut $39 billion in spending over the next six months. As part of the deal struck by Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and the White House, Congress shortly before midnight passed a seven day stop-gap spending bill, which itself includes $2 billion in funding reductions. The Senate approved the measure by voice vote, then about an hour later the House voted 348-70 to pass it, as well. 

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


Back from the Brink, Parties Armed for Mega-Battle Over Debt Limit. John Boehner and Harry Reid went to the brink of a government shutdown, and turned back at the last possible moment. While there is plenty of debate about which side won, one thing is clear: Washington hasn't been this serious about budget cutting in decades. The Speaker and Senate majority leader went deep in their respective playbooks of leverage games during the fiscal 2011 spending debate. The Hill


Scientists Study Pool of Arctic Ocean Fresh Water. Scientists are monitoring a massive pool of fresh water in the Arctic Ocean that could spill into the Atlantic and potentially alter the key ocean currents that give Western Europe its moderate climate. The oceanographers said Tuesday the unusual accumulation has been caused by Siberian and Canadian rivers dumping more water into the Arctic and from melting sea ice. Both are consequences of global warming. AP


Ozone Layer Faces Record 40% Loss Over Arctic. The protective ozone layer in the Arctic that keeps out the sun's most damaging rays - ultraviolet radiation - has thinned about 40 percent this winter, a record drop, the U.N. weather agency said Tuesday. The Arctic's damaged stratospheric ozone layer isn't the best known "ozone hole" - that would be Antarctica's, which forms when sunlight returns in spring there each year. But the Arctic's situation is due to similar causes: ozone-munching compounds in air pollutants that are chemically triggered by a combination of extremely cold temperatures and sunlight. AP


Inuit Group Seeks More Ridings for 'Greater' Arctic Representation [Canada]. The creation of more federal ridings in the Arctic could help the government to better tackle issues facing Inuit communities, according to the head of an Inuit group. Inuit are often left out of the federal election campaign process because of the vastness of Canada's four Arctic ridings, Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said in an April 8 blog post. Calgary Herald.


U.S. DOD Releases Unified Command Plan 2011.The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released today the updated the Unified Command Plan (UCP), a key strategic document that establishes the missions, responsibilities, and geographic areas of responsibility for commanders of combatant commands. Unified Command Plan 2011, signed by the President on April 6, assigns several new missions to the combatant commanders. Significant changes made by UCP 2011 include: 

- Shifting areas of responsibilities boundaries in the Arctic region to leverage long-standing relationships and improve unity of effort. As a result of this realignment, responsibility for the Arctic region is now shared between USEUCOM and USNORTHCOM rather than USEUCOM, USNORTHCOM and USPACOM as directed in previous UCPs.  

- Giving USNORTHCOM responsibility to advocate for Arctic capabilities.  

DefPro News


Alaska Legislature Update. The Alaska Legislature last week formally asked Congress to ratify the Law of the Sea treaty. The request suggests the United States is "forfeiting sovereign rights to and international recognition of" a vastly larger share of Arctic waters than it currently oversees under domestic and international laws. It estimates that one-third of all oil and natural gas production worldwide comes from offshore sources and states that the United States would be unwise to neglect the chance to secure sovereignty over its Arctic resources. Fairbanks Daily News Miner


Where Will the Debris from Japan's Tsunami Drift in the Ocean? The huge tsunami triggered by the 9.0 Tohoku Earthquake destroyed coastal towns near Sendai in Japan, washing such things as houses and cars into the ocean. Projections of where this debris might head have been made by Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Maximenko has developed a model based on the behavior of drifting buoys deployed over years in the ocean for scientific purposes. Science Daily


Alaska Delegation Statements on Cook Inlet Critical Habitat Decision.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski says today's designation of over 3,000 square miles of Cook Inlet as Critical Habitat is far costlier than the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) figures contend. NOAA announced today it is designating two areas of Alaska's Cook Inlet as critical habitat for the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale, while exempting the Port of Anchorage and Eagle River Flats Range. Senator Lisa Murkowski 


U.S. Sen. Mark Begich released the following statement on the critical habitat designation for Cook Inlet: "While I am pleased NOAA exempted the Port of Anchorage, as I requested, I am still very concerned designating 3,000 square miles of critical habitat for beluga whales could be crippling to Alaska development." Senator Mark Begich


Alaskan Congressman Don Young issued the following statement this afternoon regarding NOAA's Fisheries Service announcement that it is designating two areas of Alaska's Cook Inlet as critical habitat for the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale, but will exclude the Port of Anchorage and military installations: "While I am pleased that NOAA recognized the importance of the Port of Anchorage and the Eagle River Flats Range, the decision to list the whales as endangered will only serve to endanger Alaska and its economy. This designation comes only a few days after lease sales in the Cook Inlet were announced, and will now inevitably be used to shutdown production in that area.  These designations have become purely political and an excuse to shut down production, and are no longer strictly the conservation tool they were originally meant to be.  Congressman Don Young


Presidential Nominations and Withdrawal Sent to the Senate. President Obama nominated William Carl Lineberger to be a member of the National Science Board.  The White House 


President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts. President Obama announced his intent to nominate Theresa Arevgaq John of Bethel, Alaska, to be a member of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. The White House 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic-related legislation was formally considered yesterday. 

Future Events      


Make it Monday Forum- Deepwater Horizon: Presidential Oil Spill Commission Update, April 11. The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce hosts this event that will feature University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Fran Ulmer.  Ms. Ulmer will present the findings from President Obama's Oil Spill Commission and its implications for Alaska, as well as give an overview of her time as UAA's chancellor. 


HOUSE: Fiscal 2012 Appropriations: Interior and Environment, April 12. The Interior and Environment and Related Agencies of the House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2012 appropriations for departments, agencies, and programs under its jurisdiction.  


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 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.


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 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.


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


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 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.

USARC header

Find us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter

4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 510
Arlington, VA 22203, USA 
(703) 525-0111 (phone)