US Arctic Research Commission
June 24, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House will consider resolutions regarding U.S. participation in the NATO-led operation in Libya. The Senate will also consider a three-week authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.  The Senate is not in session.

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


Senate Kills Measure to Defund Policy 'Czars.' The Senate voted 47-51 on Thursday to kill an amendment offered by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) that would have ended the ability of the White House to appoint policy "czars," and prohibited the use of federal funds for the salaries and expenses of czars already appointed. The measure needed 60 votes to pass. Before the vote, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate's third-ranking Democrat, decried the amendment from the floor as an attempt to weaken the Democratic presidency and as a "poison pill" for the underlying legislation. "It is a poison pill designed to handcuff the president's ability to assemble a team of top-flight advisers and aides," Schumer said. The Hill 


USGS Report Finds Gaps in Arctic Data: Authors recommend specific areas to study. A new U.S. Geological Survey report identifies gaps in scientific data available toarctic shipping make decisions on oil and gas activities on the Outer Continental Shelf. The authors recommend more information be collected to fill in these gaps, as well as more comprehensive planning and knowledge of the level of preparedness necessary before allowing industrialization. The document specifically suggests gathering more data on weather, climate change,and on environmental and subsistence impacts, plus on effects relating to various species, fisheries, shipping and tourism. Juneau Empire 


Time to Ratify Law of the Sea? Even when referring to it by its more colloquial name, the Law of the Sea treaty evokes pirates, planks and scurvy. It sounds like something that might have been fought for in another century, the subject of a Joseph Conrad novel, perhaps, when imperial nations were plotting to dominate trade in ivory and cocoa beans, gold and human labor. The full name, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, sounds even more anachronistic, and to some who bristle at anything to do with the U.N., even nefarious. Alaska Dispatch 


No Arctic Science 'Silver Bullet.' A long-awaited federal report released Thursday points to numerous holes in scientific knowledge about the Arctic that could shed important light on how oil and gas development would affect the area. Now, the question is: what will anyone do with it? The 272-page document will undoubtedly end up in court, on one side or the other, as legal battles over Arctic development continue. Whether the report's numerous recommendations will be followed remains to be seen. Alaska Dispatch


USGS Report: More Native dialogue needed to address science gaps, including subsistence impacts. The need for more traditional knowledge in Arctic AK Native family drawingscience receives plenty of attention in a new report that highlights gaps in data related to proposed oil and gas drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf in Alaska. "There is a need for additional science dialogue with Native communities to more comprehensively incorporate local traditional knowledge into decisions," reads a fact sheet released with the U.S. Geological Survey report. The 278-page report itself spends a great deal of time calling for more comprehensive and collaborative studies that address potential changes in a broad way. The Arctic Sounder


UAF Research Looks to the Heart of Rehab. Scientists believe research on hibernation of black bears and ground squirrels at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Institute of Arctic Biology could contribute to treatment of heart attacks and strokes in humans as well as the long-term recovery of people after surgery and of soldiers' recovery from battlefield wounds. The U.S. Army is particularly interested in the latter and U.S. medical researchers are increasingly interested in the former. Both are helping fund work at the institute. Alaska Journal


UAF's New Biological Sciences Program, Facilities Expand. Contractors in Fairbanks are on a fast-track schedule with the University of Alaska Fairbanks' new $108 million Biological Sciences Building, and the plan is to have steel erected and the building closed in by Oct. 1, according to Brian Barnes, director of UAF's Institute of Arctic Biology, which will occupy the building when it is finished. The new building will contain new and expanded laboratories for research, and more space for teaching. It will replace antiquated, cramped facilities now being used that have threatened to impair the university's ability to attract research funding, faculty and students. Alaska Journal 


Sen. Begich Pushes New Legislation for Tongass and Law of the Sea, Remains Committed to Arctic Oil Development. Begich discusses shipping in the begichArctic as a competitive opportunity for Alaska, the need to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty, and improvements to Coast Guard operations in the Arctic. [Video] KTVA


Pew Applauds First Step in Developing a Science Plan for U.S. Arctic Ocean. Marilyn Heiman, director of the Pew Environment Group's U.S. Arctic Program, issued the following statement in response to today's release of the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Arctic Ocean science review:  "We are pleased that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the USGS put a high priority on identifying gaps in science regarding America's Arctic Ocean. Although a good deal of research has been completed, very little of it has been synthesized in a way that can guide informed decisions regarding if, when, where and how oil drilling should take place. Sacramento Bee


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.R. 2171, Exploring for Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act (Labrador, House hearing held)


H.R. 2219, Department of Defense Appropriations Act (Young, considered in the House)


S. 1262, Native Culture, Language, and Access for Success in Schools Act (Akaka, Senate hearing scheduled)

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.

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