US Arctic Research Commission
January 10, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents


The House and Senate are not in session.

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


Tight Calendar for 112th Limits GOP Options on Spending Cuts. The legislative schedule established by House Republicans for their new majority will make it all but impossible for the GOP to pass separate appropriations bills for fiscal 2011, congressional aides said Tuesday.  The continuing resolution to fund the government runs out on March 4, leaving House Republicans with a shrinking number of days to identify cuts and pass a bill before the stopgap measure expires. The tight timeline means that the option of 12 appropriations bills, which would maximize the ability of the GOP to go after programs it considers wasteful, is all but off the table, according to aides on both sides of the aisle. The Hill


Week at a Glance. In response to the Arizona shooting rampage, House Republican leaders postponed all legislative floor action that was slated to begin Jan. 11. Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said Sunday that the chamber would meet Wednesday to consider legislative action on at least one resolution honoring Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and honoring those slain in the shootings, including U.S. District Judge John M. Roll and Giffords staff member Gabe Zimmerman. The Senate is in recess until Jan. 25. Congressional Quarterly


As Arctic Melts, U.S. Ill Equipped to Tap Resources. Flying over the Arctic Circle, the Coast Guard C130 rumbled as it alternated between 500 and 2,500 feet, its high-tech equipment quietly observing the thickness and stretch of ice along Alaska's northern border. Cold air rushed through the open cargo door as some musk oxen and the occasional walrus passed below. Like the rest of the 2.5-million-square-foot areaC130 at the top of the world, this chunk of the U.S. Arctic is melting quickly because of accelerated climate change. The prospect of newly thawed sea lanes and a freshly accessible, resource-rich seabed has nations jockeying for position. And government and military officials are concerned the United States is not moving quickly enough to protect American interests in this vulnerable and fast-changing region. Washington Post


Search and Rescue Treaty Could Save Lives, Boost Arctic Council: Experts. "If you're a passenger on a sinking vessel, you don't care what country owns the helicopter." The next time a cruise ship runs aground in a remote corner of the Canadian Arctic, it could be Danish soldiers or the U.S. coast guard who rescue passengers. A new treaty in the works at the Arctic Council calls for greater sharing and coordination between the council's eight members on Arctic search and rescue. The agreement, negotiated in December by the eight member nations of the Arctic Council, could be signed by the council's foreign ministers when they meet in Nuuk this May. Nunatsiaq Online


Arctic Sea Ice May be Affecting Weather Patterns: Expert. The phenomenon, called "reverse Arctic Oscillation," involves the exchange of heat from dark-surfaced open water to the atmosphere and the resulting north-south movement of weather patterns. "You get a warm Arctic and you get cold outbreaks in the middle latitudes," Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, said Friday. Arctic ice coverage this December was the lowest for any December since satellite records began in 1979, the center reported this week. Reuters


Talk of Alaska: Science in the Changing Arctic. The effort to understand our changing Arctic goes public every year in January, with the Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage.  Whether it's fisheries, waters, climate, ocean currents, ice or marine mammals, new research results will be announced later this month.  APRN


The Northeast Passage: Keep it Virgin. [Opinion] Though this offers some benefits, the negative impacts should be closely watched. Those looking for quick economic gains by extracting resources are a threat to a landscape that is already taxed due to planetary warming. Opening up this region to exploitation, particularly by countries that have reputations for bungling environmental protection or technology deployment, means that we can easily cause long term harm to this ecosystem for the short term gain of the first to get there. There is debate about how this area should be protected, through a "hard-law" approach which the World Wildlife Fund advocates (PDF), and a "soft" approach, like that of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. At Earth's other pole, the Antarctic Treaty was signed by countries representing 80 percent of the world's population, set aside the continent as a scientific reserve, and has worked beautifully. One of the arguments against such a broad reaching treaty for the Arctic is that almost 2 million people live in a variety of countries above the Arctic Circle, and their needs will have to be accounted for. Reuters


House Democrats Fill Spots on Three Top Committees. The House Democratic Caucus officially assigned members to three exclusive committees on Friday. The caucus filled slots on the Appropriations, Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees. The number of open seats was largely determined by Republican leaders, but Democrats were able to extract at least one concession, boosting their ranks on Energy and Commerce to 23 instead of the 22 they had initially been offered in December. Congressional Quarterly


Key House Republican Object to Findings of Oil spill Commission. A key House Republican is objecting to the findings of the Obama administration's oil spill commission, arguing that the panel's report should not lead to further delays in offshore drilling. The commission this week blamed "systemic" problems within the oil industry for last year's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The full version of the report will be released Jan. 11, but it is already gaining significant attention among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The Hill 

Fishing Groups Sue Over Sea Lion Protection. Alaska seafood organizations are suing to stop a ruling by the National Marine Fisheries Service that would protect fish on which the endangered Steller sea lions feed. Alaska Public Radio Network reported the ruling by the fisheries service has closed an area to fishing Atka mackerel and Pacific cod. The Alaska Seafood Cooperative fishes in the closed area, and takes about 90 percent of its Atka mackerel quota. Anchorage Daily News


Alaska Pipeline Down to About 5% of Capacity: PUMP STATION 1: Winter cold complicates repair and effort to restart flow. The shutdown of the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline continued for a second day Sunday as engineers and regulators worked on how to safely get oil flowing again in the dead of winter. Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. cut the flow of oil to the main pipeline Saturday morning after workers discovered a leak on a secondary line. Alyeska, which operates the line and its pump stations, directed oil field operators to cut production to a minimal level. Anchorage Daily News


Exxon Asks for Increase in Pay Rate to Move Oil in Pipeline: TARIFF: If approved, request represents 146 percent hike in charges since 2008. Exxon Mobil has asked state regulators to increase the rate it charges to ship oil on the trans-Alaska oil pipeline to in-state destinations by about 22 percent. The request makes Exxon the third of the five owners of the 800-mile pipeline to ask in 2010 for an increase to intrastate shipping rates. The Regulatory Commission of Alaska previously approved increases for Conoco Phillips and Koch on a temporary basis. Anchorage Daily News

Where is Arctic sea ice now?. The National Snow and Ice Data Center and the U.S. National Ice Center (NIC) are pleased to announce a new daily sea ice analysis product: The Multisensor Analyzed Sea Ice Extent - Northern Hemisphere (MASIE-NH).


The Science Ice Exercise (SCICEX). The Science Ice Exercise (SCICEX) program is a collaboration between the U.S. Navy and the marine research community to utilize nuclear-powered submarines for the study of the Arctic Ocean. Unlike surface ships, submarines have the unique and valuable ability to operate and take measurements regardless of sea ice cover and weather conditions. The goal of the program is to acquire comprehensive data about Arctic sea ice, water properties, and bathymetry. A table of the SCICEX data inventory is available here

On the lighter side...the Trans-Alaskan Gopher Compgophermineany. Can gophers be trained to find gold in Alaska? Get the Straight Dope.

Legislative Actionfutureevents


No Arctic-related legislation was formally considered on Friday.


Future Eventsfutureevents

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, fish 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?

95th meeting of the USARC, Jan. 21, Anchorage. The USARC will meet in the usarc logo smallQuadrant room of the Captain Cook Hotel, starting at 8:30 am. A detailed agenda is now available at

Public Forum on Natural Gas Markets, January 22. The federal coordinator's office for the Alaska natural gas pipeline will sponsor a public forum on gas markets Jan. 22 to help Alaskans better understand the supply-and-demand fundamentals affecting the proposed pipeline project. The Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects will bring to Alaska several national experts on Lower 48 supply and demand issues including shale gas, the effect of federal clean air regulations on natural gas demand, and foreign markets for liquefied natural gas. Panelists


Arctic Tipping Points, January 23-29, 2011. Arctic Frontiers will host a conferenceseesaw 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 Korean Flagthe 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.

The Arctic as a Messenger for Global Processes- Climate Change and Pollution, 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.
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 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 i s 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.


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