US Arctic Research Commission
August 5, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are not in session.

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


 Arctic Sea Ice May Approach Record Low. Arctic sea ice, a benchmark for the earth's rising temperature, may approach a record low in September after its biggest July melt since 2007, researchers at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center said. Ice covered an average of 7.92 million square kilometers (3.06 million square miles) of ocean last month, 210,000 square kilometers less than the average for the same period in 2007, when there was a record melt season, according to the center. After a recovery toward the end of the month, an all-time low is "an outside possibility," said Walt Meier, an NSIDC scientist. Bloomberg


Interior Gives Green Light to Arctic Drilling Plan. Over the strong objections of environmentalists, the Interior Department on Thursday approved a controversial offshore drilling plan in Alaska's Beaufort Sea. The conditional approval allows Shell to next summer drill four shallow water wells off Alaska's northern coast - an area that holds major oil and gas reserves but is frozen for much of the year. Congressional Quarterly


Large Variations in Arctic Sea Ice: Polar Ice Much Less Stable Than Previously Thought, Study Finds. For the last 10,000 years, summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has been far from constant. For several thousand years, there was much less sea ice in the Arctic Ocean -- probably less than half of current amounts. This is indicated by new findings by the Danish National Research Foundation for Geogenetics at the University of Copenhagen. The results of the study will be published in the journal Science. Science Daily


Arctic Oil Spill Could Prove Tough to Clean. Shell Exploration's Oil Whale Exxonplan for exploratory oil and gas drilling in the Beaufort Sea won conditional approval from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. One of the big questions now is what happens if there's an oil spill. Agency officials are expected as early as next week to act on Shell's oil spill response plan, which conservationists say falls short of the mark for responding to an accident in icy waters, often shrouded in darkness, hundreds of miles from the nearest deep-water port. LA Times


Arctic Ice Can Bounce Back: Study, It's Been in Worse Shape Before. The meltdown underway in the Arctic is remarkable, but an international team of beachcombers has uncovered evidence it's been much worse before. Driftwood from Canada, Alaska and Siberia picked up on the planet's most northern beaches indicates that, for several thousand of the past 10,000 years, there was at least 50 per cent less sea ice in the Arctic than there is today, the team reports today in the journal Science. Open water used to crash ashore on Greenland's northern beaches, which are now locked in ice year-round, say the scientists, who have weathered fierce summer snowstorms on their beachcombing expeditions. Winnipeg Free Press


Canada to use Drones to Patrol Arctic: Part of disaster training exercises. Canada canadian flagis deploying unmanned surveillance aircraft to the High Arctic for the first time, as part of the largest military exercise ever in the Far North. Catapult-launched Boeing ScanEagle unarmed drones similar to those used by the Canadian Forces for surveillance in Afghanistan are to assist in a major air disaster scenario in an extremely remote area near Resolute, which is about 3,000 kilometres north of Ottawa. They will also assist in a major maritime disaster exercise being overseen by the Canadian Coast Guard in waters between Canada and Greenland. Ottawa Citizen


Alaska Weakens Oil Spill Prevention, Response: End of coastal management makes Alaska first state to reduce environmental protection following Gulf spill. Alaska is becoming a national leader in a new area, relaxing its regulation of offshore oil drilling spill response and prevention at a time when others are seeking more protections. That change comes following BP's huge Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which elsewhere prompted efforts to strengthen requirements that offshore drilling companies do a better job of both preventing spills and responding to them when they do happen. Alaska is alone in weakening its offshore drilling regulations, according to state and environmental groups who monitor such regulations. The change is due to the elimination of the Alaska's Coastal Management program, under which the state could require drilling and other activities in the outer continental shelf meet tougher standards than the federal minimums. Alaska has no jurisdiction in federal waters outside the state's 3-mile limit. Juneau Empire

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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