US Arctic Research Commission
August 19, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are not in session.

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


Royalty-Sharing Effort Stalls Panel's Action on Offshore Drilling Overhaul.

A Senate panel on Thursday scuttled action on oil production safety legislation after lawmakers squabbled over a proposal to allow coastal states to share more royalties from energy-production activities in federal waters, leaving the bill's fate uncertain. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee's much-anticipated markup of offshore drilling safety legislation (S 917) devolved into a prolonged debate over a revenue-sharing amendment offered by Louisiana Democrat Mary L. Landrieu and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the panel's ranking Republican. Congressional Quarterly
White House Memo Urges Cuts to Federal Agencies. Reflecting its recent debt reduction deal with Congress, the White House is asking that agencies pare back their 2013 budget requests to show cuts of 5 percent to 10 percent from already reduced domestic appropriations for the current year. The 10 percent standard is much tougher than in the past. In June last year, for example, the administration put agencies through a budget cutting exercise confined to just 5 percent reductions-aimed in part to find the extra room to allow for new investments and a top line freeze. Politico


Greenland Glacier Melting Faster Than Expected. A key glacier greenlandin Greenland is melting faster than previously expected, according to findings by a team of academics, including Dr Edward Hanna from University of Sheffield. Dr Hanna, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Geography, was part of a team of researchers that also included Dr Sebastian Mernild from the Los Alamos Laboratory, USA, and Professor Niels Tvis Knudsen from the University of Aarhus, Denmark. The team´s new findings present crucial insight into the effects of climate change. Science Daily



North Sea Spill Reveals Risks of Drilling in the More Remote, Oil Drilling in AlaskaLess Regulated Arctic. One year after BP capped its blown out well in the Gulf of Mexico, another spill has dumped oil into yet another sea. Nearly 55,000 gallons of oil have leaked from a Royal Dutch Shell drilling platform off the coast of Scotland. Once again we are faced with the reality that offshore drilling is an inherently perilous venture. The dangers in this industry will never go away. The question is: are we prepared to deal with them? Huffington Post 


Ottawa Must Pay to be Player Up North: If Canada Wants to Shape Events in the Arctic, It Will Cost Billions. A senior Canadian Army officer - Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw - is to travel to Moscow and other northern European capitals this fall for discussions about the Arctic. This development mocks the ludicrous media hype suggesting that there is a bitter rivalry involving Canada, Russia, the United States and Denmark (Greenland) over their sometimes competing claims and interests in the Arctic. Edmonton Journal


In the Arctic Race, The U.S. Lags Behind. Seattle is the home of the U.S. Coast icebreakersGuard's entire fleet of polar-class icebreakers. Both of them. Capt. George Pellissier commands both the Polar Sea and the Polar Star. He has spent much of his career on these ships, which were built in Seattle in the 1970s. "The two ships are almost identical. They were built a year apart. Our design is to break 6 feet of ice continuously, and we can break up to 21 feet of ice," Pellissier says, referring to the thick "pressure ridges" that can form between sheets of ice in the waters north of Alaska, and which can trap and even crush less sturdy vessels. NPR


Groups Say Chukchi Sea Drilling Plan Still Flawed. The federal agency overseeing offshore petroleum drilling said Thursday it has corrected flaws a federal judge cited in environmental work ahead of a 2008 lease sale off Alaska's northwest coast. Environmental and Alaska Native groups who sued to block drilling in the Chukchi Sea disagree. They say the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement still has not addressed crucial information gaps, such as how drilling will impact polar bear, walrus and other species affected by global warming, and how petroleum companies will clean up spills in ice-choked waters. Business Week 


Walrus Herds Gather on Alaska's Northwest Shore. A contractor taking part in federal marine mammal aerial surveys over the Chukchi Sea spotted about 5,000 walruses Wednesday on a beach north of Point Lay. A second herd of 3,000 walruses rested a short distance away. In winter, Pacific walruses are found at the edge of sea ice in the Bering Sea. Older males remain in the Bering Sea for the summer, but mothers and their young ride the edge of sea ice as it melts north through the Bering Strait and into the Chukchi Sea. Female walruses and their young have come ashore during late summer and fall in four of the last five years on Alaska's northwest coast. The phenomenon began after sea ice melted far beyond the relatively shallow continental shelf to waters of the deep Arctic Basin. 


Empire Editorial: Icebreakers: Save the old ones, build more new ones. Our nation's lack of preparedness in a key area of national security and commerce is shocking. Emerging global shipping lanes have drawn the attention of all Arctic nations as polar ice recedes. Every nation with a claim is pressing that claim. Russia announced in July it would send troops into the far north, joining Finland, Norway and Sweden, which already have troops stationed to defend their interests. Countries are hungry to explore for mineral, oil and other natural resources and seek new fishing grounds. Juneau Empire  


Risks Still Too Great for Shell's Arctic Offshore Plans. More than a year later after the BP oil spill, the environmental degradation from the Deepwater Horizon disaster lingers in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil can still be found on nearly 500 miles of Gulf coastline, and an enormous dead zone remains at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Yet most Americans have moved on from images of the burning rig, oiled birds, and the 11 men who lost their lives. And in a crucial and dangerous way, Washington has also moved on. Early this month, the Obama administration approved Shell Oil's plans to drill four exploratory wells in America's Arctic Ocean. Shell's plans are the most aggressive to date in a region largely untouched by humankind, and where there has never been significant ocean drilling. The approval was given, despite the fact that there is no proven way to clean up oil spilled in an icy environment. US says not enough known about the Arctic. What's more, America's own science experts - the United States Geological Survey - say it's "difficult, if not impossible" to make informed decisions about drilling in the Arctic because too much remains unknown about the Arctic's marine environment and the wildlife that depend on it. Alaska Dispatch 


Navy Assesses Strategic Demands in Arctic. The Navy has completed its latest assessment of the Arctic region, where melting ice is raising strategic questions as well as commercial opportunities. "In the past, the Arctic was largely inaccessible, but increased seasonal melting of the sea ice is opening the region and creating opportunities for oil and gas exploration, maritime shipping, commercial fishing and tourism," Rear Adm. David Titley, director of the Navy's task force for climate change, said in a statement Tuesday. "We are confronted by a new ocean for the first time in 500 years." 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.


Future Events                     


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 exchanging practical experience in construction and maintenance of engineering structures on frozen ground. For additional information, please contact Lilia Prokopieva. 


Northern Research Forum 6th Open Assembly, September 4-6, 2011. "Our Ice Dependent World," organized by the Northern Research Forum and its partners as the Northern Research Forum 6th Open Assembly, will be hosted by the University of Akureyri in the town of Hveragerđi, Iceland. Addressing the three 'poles' - the Arctic, the Antarctic and the Himalayan region- the sub-themes represent different  perspectives for viewing the subject of natural ice and evaluating its importance.  The event will consider implications of ice melt on humanity, communities, minds, perceptions and knowledge on ice; International law, 'soft law' and governance on ice.


4th International Sea Duck Conference, seaduckconferencelogoSeptember 12-16, 2011. The Sea Duck Joint Venture has helped sponsor a North American Sea Duck Conference once every three years since 2002. These conferences provide opportunities for researchers and managers to share information and research results, conduct workshops on specific issues, and to hold related meetings. The 4th conference will officially be an international conference and will be held in Seward, Alaska, 12-16 September, 2011, with participants from the U.S., Canada, Russia and Europe, focusing on sea ducks in the North and the Arctic. It will be held at the Windsong Lodge, with three days of presentations and workshops, and there will be a chartered boat trip the last day into the Kenai Fjords to watch sea ducks. Registration is available on the website for the conference and the excursion.


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 Fermo

September 20-23, 2011. 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. 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 occurs. 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. Registration forms are available here


Murmansk Arctic Forum, October 1-2, 2011. Hosted by the Russian Geographic Society, the forum will host discussion on Arctic navigation, development of the Northern Sea Route, railway extensions, and construction of a deep-water port in Arkhangelsk.  The official website is in Russian.


The Arctic in Transition: Regional Issues and Geopolitics, October 3-4, 2011. The conference is organized by the Center for Geopolitical Studies of the Raoul Dandurand Chair, in collaboration with the Centre Jacques Cartier (France), ArcticNet (Universite Laval, Quebec), and the Northern Research Forum (University of the Arctic; University of Lapland, Finland). This high-level international meeting reunites political scientists, lawyers, geographers, historians and practitioners to discuss, first, the socio-economic, political and security issues of developed or developing Arctic regions, and, second, to look at the evolving relationships between these spaces, their peoples, and global affairs. The meeting mainly seeks to adress security issue(s) of the various region(s) that make up the circumpolar world. Three Arctic regions will be highlighted: a) the North-American Arctic (United States (Alaska); Canada (Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut, Nunavik) and Greenland; b) the North Pacific Rim (Alaska, Russian Far East, Beaufort Sea/Chukchi); c) the Barents Euro-Arctic Region (Nordic countries - Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland - and Russia).


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. Details to follow.   


15th International Congress on Circumpolar Heath, August 5-10, 2012. This kivalina girlevent is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Society for Circumpolar Health, and the International Union for Circumpolar Health.  The forum will consider community participatory research and indigenous research; women's health, family health, and well-being; food security and nutrition; social determinants of health; environmental and occupational health; infectious and chronic diseases; climate change-health impacts; health service delivery and infrastructure; and, behavioral health.


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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