US Arctic Research Commission
July 19, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will continue work on the Military Construction-Veterans' Affairs spending bill. Debt limit negotiations continue behind the scenes. The House is expected to vote on several, largely symbolic measures to cut and cap federal spending.

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


Reid: Saturday Workdays for Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid harry reid (D-Nev.) on Monday said the Senate would work weekends until Congress and the White House reach a deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. House leaders offered no new announcements on Monday about their own schedules, but sources said congressional leaders were prepared to keep lawmakers in session through the beginning of the August recess if negotiators fail to reach a deal. The Hill  


Chinese Analysts Urge Greater Presence in Arctic Ocean. Chinese researchers say the nation should move quickly to avoid being left Chinaflag behind in an escalating race for natural resources and trade routes in the Arctic Ocean. Zhang Xia, director of strategic studies at the Polar Research Institute of China, is quoted in the Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper Tuesday as saying China lags behind other countries in terms of Arctic exploration and scientific research. Quoting a 2008 study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Global Times says the Arctic Circle holds an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered but reachable oil, and more than 45 trillion cubic meters of reachable natural gas. Voice of America  


Harper Gears Up for Another Round of Arctic Chest-Thumping. Next month, as he has every summer since becoming Prime Minister, Stephen Harper will travel to the Arctic, trumpeting his Conservative government's resolve to assert Canadian sovereignty in the Far North against all comers. Little of what he says will accord with reality. But it will all make for splendid political theatre, which is the whole point. Globe and Mail  


Oilsands Activity Blamed for Caribou Decline. Humans, not wolves, caribou are behind declining caribou populations in Alberta's oilsands region, an analysis of animal feces shows. The same research also found there may be many more caribou in the region than previously thought, meaning there may still be time for industry to change how it does business without resorting to wolf culls to protect the herds. CBC News  


The Week Ahead: Senate Energy Panel to Consider Offshore Drilling-Safety Bill. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote this week on legislation aimed at overhauling offshore drilling-safety rules more than a year after BP's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) floated the legislation, which would stiffen penalties, strengthen well blowout-prevention standards and increase offshore inspections, in May. The Hill  


North Slope Pipeline Breaks, Spills during pressure testing. State environmental officials are investigating why a pipeline on Alaska's North Slope operated by BP ruptured early Saturday during a pressure test. Workers in nearby buildings felt the ground shake from the force of the underground line break, Tom DeRuyter, on-scene coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said Sunday. Anchorage Daily News  


As Arctic Ice Shrinks, Pacific Species Invade Atlantic, Causing Ecological 'Tumult.' The largest species invasion in over 2 million years is now underway as Arctic ice cover melts and shrinks, permitting a freer exchange of species between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.  Dire and dramatic consequences for Atlantic biodiversity are predicted. Planet Save  


Study: More Polar Bear Cubs Drowning Due to Sea Ice Loss. Biologists polar bear ice studying polar bears off the coast of Alaska have found that when cubs are forced to go on marathon swims with their mothers due to loss of sea ice, nearly half of them don't survive the journey. The study, scheduled to be announced at the International Bear Association Conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, confirms the dangers of ice loss to Alaska's polar bear population. It's been widely theorized that adult polar bears have been forced to cross ever-longer stretches of open ocean as the polar regions heat up. On Earth  


UT and MIT Forge Partnership to Study Risky Energy Exploration. To feed its Oil Drilling in Alaska energy demands, the United States is looking for energy in increasingly far-flung environments such as: Ultra-deep offshore oil wells, the Arctic, and shale rock formations 20,000 feet underground. The risks involved are often greater, but the industry lacks a set of "best practices" for these new frontiers of energy exploration. That's a need that researchers at the University of Texas and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hope to fill. Scientists at both colleges are teaming up to create some guidelines for industry. Their focus would range from guiding principles to government policies to the engineering needs required to reduce environmental impact. KUT News  

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.R. 2018, Clean Water Cooperation Federalism Act (Mica- placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar)


H.R. 2354, Making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012 (Frelinghuysen- referred to Senate committee) 

Future Events                    


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.


Brown Bag Town Hall , July 21, 2011. Senator Murkowski will hold a "Brown Bag Town Hall" to discuss issues such as the budget, appropriations, military operations, Arctic issues, and energy development. The town hall will be conducted via Twitter.


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. 


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. 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


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 Arctic developed or developing regions, and, second, to look at the evolving relationships between these spaces, their peoples, and global affairs. The main focus of the meeting 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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