US Arctic Research Commission
June 22, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


Today, the Senate will consider legislation to reduce the number of executive branch nominees who require Senate confirmation.  The House will consider amendments the FY 2012 Defense Appropriations bill.  Behind the scenes, Democrats, Republicans and the White House are engaging in discussions about debt and health care entitlements.  

4th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval NIC_logoand Maritime Operations, June 20-22, 2011 (downtown DC).  The symposium, co-hosted by the U.S. National Ice Center and the U.S. Arctic Research in Arctic Ocean sea ice on a wide range of maritime operations. Confirmed speakers include the Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Research, RADM Nevin Carr Jr., the Commandant of the US Coast Guard ADM Robert Papp, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich, and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. The forum is a key opportunity to learn about changes in the Arctic environment, and the manner in which they are being responded to in terms of policies and practices.

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


 Begich, Murkowski Speak on Need for Arctic Policy. Senators Lisa Murkowski, BegichconfR-Alaska and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, told participants in an Arctic conference in Washington D.C. today that the federal government needs to take a greater role in the area's development and pass the Law of the Sea Treaty. Both senators expressed their concerns to the fourth Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations on the dramatic effects that a warming Arctic is having on Alaska, coupled with an intense interest in developing the area for oil and gas exploration, fisheries and transportation. Alaska News Papers


Our View: Arctic Frontier. Retreat of ice, potential riches raise calls for wise action. Not many years ago, the late Wally Hickel, former Alaska governor and Interior secretary, was writing about an Arctic future that read like speculative fiction. Climate change could give us a new Northwest Passage, changing the economics of world shipping. Easier passage could open the way to more resource development. Rising sea levels might change our coastlines with almost biblical consequences -- but at the same time create opportunities. Hickel's visions don't look so speculative now. If you want to see them, just look north. Anchorage Daily News


Arctic 'Strait of Gibralter' Unlikely. Arctic shipping is an ice dream unlikely to come true any time soon, the head of one of the world's top shipping companies told the Arctic Imperative Summit Tuesday. It was not exactly what some in the audience wanted to hear. A shrinking polar ice cap and a slow but steady increase in ships trafficking the Arctic Ocean along Russia's Northern Route has fueled a belief that direct shipping from Europe to the Far East could be on the horizon. The U.S. Coast Guard has begun referring to the narrow stretch of the Bering Sea between Wales and Naukan, Russia, as "Alaska's Strait of Gibralatar." Alaska Dispatch 


More LNG Tankers for Russian Arctic. Russia's largest shipping company, Sovcomflot, signed an agreement to construct and lease LNG tankers for the Yamal Peninsula and Shtokman projects. Barents Observer


Icebreaker Helps Push [China's] Polar Goals. A new icebreakers will be launched in 2013 to bolster China's polar research activities as the nation endeavors to become a major player in such scientific expeditions, a top Chinese oceanic official said Tuesday. China currently has one such vessel, Xuelong or Snow Dragon, that conducts polar scientific expeditions.  It was purchased from Ukraine in 1993. China Daily


State Again Restricts Subsistence King Fishing on Yukon River. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is canceling a second fishing period for Yukon River subsistence fishermen so that more king salmon will reach spawning grounds in Canada. The department last week halted one subsistence fishing period, and managers hoped that would be enough. Anchorage Daily News 


North Slope Mayor Blasts State for Lack of Support, ideas in offshore development. As a coastal development program designed to provide local input approaches its death, the North Slope Borough mayor blasted the state for a lack of leadership on the issue of offshore oil development. Unlike state officials, Alaska's Congressional delegation has worked with Mayor Ed Itta, he said, drafting legislation to pressure oil companies to use the state's pipeline, rather than ocean tankers, if oil is produced from offshore.  "But other than that, nobody in the state seems to be very excited about it," said Itta. "And that strikes me as odd, very odd. Because unless that oil comes ashore, the state of Alaska will see virtually no benefit from OCS development." The Arctic Sounder  


Should Alaska Build Its Own Arctic Icebreaker? Anchorage Sen. Lesil McGuire thinks the state should build its own Polar-class icebreaker, much like the U.S. Coast Guard uses for Arctic patrols. The Coast Guard's two "heavy" icebreakers are out of commission right now, and the service is relying on one "medium" icebreaker -- primarily a scientific research vessel -- for anything that's needed in the Arctic. The problem? Repairing or retrofitting an icebreaker costs hundreds of millions of dollars. Building a new one? Even more. Congress has been reluctant to commission a new ship due to the high cost. An April report by the Congressional Research Service put the pricetag of a new icebreaker at about $1 billion, $500 million to fix up one of the existing ships enough to last another 25 years. The heavy icebreakers have been in service more than 30 years. Alaska Dispatch  


Scientists Warn Oceans' Marine Life on 'Brink of Extinction:' DIRE WARNING: Catastrophe would be "unprecedented in human history," they say. The world's oceans are degenerating far faster than predicted and marine life is facing extinction due to a range of human impacts from over-fishing to climate change, a report compiled by international scientists warned Tuesday. The cumulative impact of "severe individual stresses," ranging from climate warming and sea-water acidification to widespread chemical pollution and over-fishing, would threaten the marine environment with a catastrophe "unprecedented in human history." Anchorage Daily News


Parnell Meets with President of Iceland on Arctic Issues. Alaska's governor met with the president of Iceland on Tuesday to discuss the state's emergence as an Arctic player and the role natural resources play in helping people and economies. Gov. Sean Parnell had what his spokeswoman described as a working lunch with Iceland's president, Olafur Grimsson, in Anchorage. Sharon Leighow said this isn't the first time the two have met though she said it is the first meeting since Parnell took office in 2009. Leighow said the leaders discussed renewable resources, with Grimsson telling Parnell about a major hydroelectric project in his country that could be a model for the Susitna project being pursued in Alaska. She said he also invited Parnell to visit Iceland later this year. Anchorage Daily News


Northern Waters Task Force to Meet in Kotzebue. Shipping, offshore drilling, spill response and creating an Arctic deep-water port will be on the agenda when the Alaska Northern Waters Task Force swings through Kotzebue and Nome in early July.  The Legislature created the 11-member panel last year to address issues faced by the changing Arctic and propose ideas to manage northern waters. Members include legislators, Arctic mayors and others. The Arctic Sounder  


Begich Reintroduces Arctic Legislation: Bills focus on Arctic health, need for Arctic Ambassador. With increasing global awareness of the changes in the Arctic and the importance of the region for economic and national security, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has reintroduced two pieces of Arctic legislation. Begich's Arctic Ambassador Act and Arctic Health Research Act are part of his package of bills, called the Inuvikput legislation, first introduced in 2009. "We know the Arctic will play a major role in the nation's commerce, foreign policy, and energy independence for the next 50 years or more," Begich said. "Making sure we are ready for the challenges and opportunities in oil exploration, climate change, shipping and the health of the people, make these bills as important as ever." Senator Mark Begich

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.


Future Events                  



Tribal Energy Development at the Federal Level, July 14-15, 2011. Law Seminars International will host a seminar for attorneys, tribes, industry executives, and government officials to discuss energy development on tribal lands.


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. 


4th International Sea Duck Conference, September 12-16, 2011. The seaduckconference is held to provide researchers and managers with opportunities to share information, research, and conduct workshops.


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 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.


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.  






USARC header

Find us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter

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