US Arctic Research Commission
May 16, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


This week, the Senate will focus on tax and energy legislation.  A Democratic measure may be considered as soon as Wednesday.  The Republican version of the legislation is expected to follow.  The House is in recess this week.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Science Advisory Board MeetingMay 16. The Science Advisory Board is expected to consider recommendations on coastal and marine spatial planning from the Ecosystem Sciences and Management Working Group and discuss revised operations of the Science Advisory Board. 

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


Warming Arctic Opens Way to Competition for Resources. Here, just south of the Arctic Circle, where the sea ice is vanishing like dew on a July morning, the temperature isn't the only thing that's heating up. Across the region, a warming Arctic is opening up new competition for resources that until recently were out of reach, protected under a thick layer of ice. As glaciers defrost and ice flows diminish, the North is being viewed as a source of not only great wealth but also conflict, diplomats and policy experts say. Washington Post 


Obama Announces Steps to Boost Oil and Gas Production. President Obama on Saturday announced new steps to boost oil and gas production, while repeating calls for Congress to cancel $4 billion in annual tax breaks enjoyed by oil companies. The new efforts include the establishment of annual lease sales in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve, a large swath of land west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that was specifically set aside by Congress in 1976 for drilling. However, later investigations have shown far smaller reserves there than previously believed. Congressional Quarterly


Energy Debate Carries Political Risk.  The Senate will debate this week competing energy proposals that pose multiple challenges for leaders of both parties. Democrats are bringing to the floor a bill that would end some tax breaks for the five largest oil companies, and Republicans will counter with a measure to boost domestic fuel production. Congressional Quarterly


Landrieu Floats Idea for Regional Energy Goals. Sen. Mary Landrieu is exploring legislation that would allow states to create regional compacts to meet national energy goals set by the federal government. Such an approach could help transcend the regional differences that often trip up efforts to legislate national energy policy, the Louisiana Democrat said Thursday in an interview after the National Women's Leadership Summit, where the idea was discussed. Congressional Quarterly


Report: BP Nears Deal Key to Arctic Exploration. Oil giant BP could announce as early as Monday that it plans to buy out the Russian partners in its joint venture TNK-BP Ltd. The deal would transfer a 50 percent stake from a company called AAR, which is controlled by a group of Russian billionaires, to Russian state oil company OAO Rosneft, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter. More importantly, it would clear the way for BP's plans to explore for oil in the Arctic Sea north of Russia, a plan that the current Russian partners oppose. Seattle Post Intelligencer 


Oil Spill Nearing Russian Arctic Wildlife Preserve. An oil spill in the White Sea is nearing a Russian wildlife preserve in a sensitive Arctic wetland, an environmental group said on 12 May, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported. The main spill patch is between two and five millimeters thick, covers an area of about 20,000 square meters and is less than 2 kilometers from the Kandalaksha Nature Preserve, according to a statement from Bellona, a environmental group based in the northern city Murmansk. New Europe


Obama Seeks More Drilling in Alaska, Gulf of Mexico. U.S. President Barack Obama, under pressure from Republicans and the public to bring down gasoline prices, announced new measures on Saturday to expand domestic oil production in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. High fuel prices have dented Obama's ratings in opinion polls and threaten to dampen the economic recovery that is critical to his re-election in 2012. Montreal Gazette


As Treeline Shifts North, Wildlife Will Change. The Arctic treeline -the point where the boreal forest gives way to tundra as one heads north may shift 500 km further north by 2100 as climate change greens the barren tundra and causes sweeping change to wildlife, a leading expert said. A quickening melt of snow, ice and permafrost will enable more southerly species such as pine trees or animals such as foxes to move north, but eliminate habitat for more northerly species. Vancouver Sun


Murkowski Lauds U.S. Focus on the Arctic. Alaska's senior U.S. senator said Friday that national leaders heard first-hand this week of the need for greater investment in and attention to the Arctic. Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined two White House Cabinet members at a multilateral Arctic Council meeting Thursday, where officials from eight nations signed a binding search-and-rescue agreement for the region. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


Alaska Native Groups Sue Federal Government Over Polar Bear Habitat Designation. Alaska Native groups worried about losing tax revenues and royalties from oil development filed a lawsuit Friday challenging the federal government's designation of critical habitat for threatened polar bears on the state's oil-rich North Slope. The Arctic Slope Regional Corp., North Slope Borough, Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope and other groups took issue with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to designate more than 187,000 square miles - an area larger than California - as critical habitat for the bears, part of the recovery plan required by law for a species declared threatened or endangered.

Washington Post  


Coast Guard [Canada] Bracing for New, Gun-Toting Enforcement Role. Canadian Coast Guard crew members are calling for a legislative overhaul and reporting structure reforms to meet a proposed new mandate that would give the civilian agency an armed policing role. The Conservative election platform unveiled plans to arm certain vessels in the fleet, establish armed boarding teams with RCMP and CCG personnel, and give law enforcement responsibilities to the maritime patrol agency. Montreal Gazette 


Circumpolar Residents Don't Know Much About Arctic Council. Residents of the world's eight circumpolar countries don't know much about the Arctic Council, but they still like it, according new survey results released May 12. The survey, conducted by Ekos Research for the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, found the highest rates of awareness of the eight-nation Arctic Council in northern Canada and Iceland, where 61 per cent of respondents had heard of the organization. Nunatsiaq Online


EU Gets Cold Shoulder in the Arctic. Arctic Council ministers have agreed on a new set of criteria for determining whether an external country or institution is eligible for 'permanent observer' status in the increasingly important forum, but a decision on the European Commission's long-standing application could still be years away. Finland lobbied hard for the EU application at a ministerial meeting in Nuuk, Greenland, on Thursday (12 May), but Canada and Russia have traditionally been opposed to the move. EU Observer 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No legislation of Arctic-interest was formally considered on Friday.

Future Events     


International Oil Spill Conference, May 23-26, 2011. This conference's theme of "Promoting the Science of Spill Response" continues the long tradition of providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and lessons learned from actual spill responses and research around the world. This conference will also continue the North American part of the Triennial Oil Spill Conference Cycle established in 2005, to be followed by Interspill 2012 (Europe) and Spillcon 2013 (SE Asia), before returning to North America in 2014. The Arctic focus will be on May 25th. 

6th International Conference on Arctic Margins, May 31-June 3, 2011. The International Conference on Arctic Margins was founded by the Department of Interior and what was formerly called the Minerals Management Service. 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.


American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium, June 5-14, 2011. This policy colloquium brings together a group to consider atmospheric policy. The colloquium will cover policy creation basics, interactions with congressional staff, and information on the current atmospheric policy issues. 


The Arctic Imperative, June 19-21, 2011. The Alaska Dispatch, Aspen Institute, Commonwealth North, and the Institute of the North will host a domestic investment and policy forum titled "The Arctic Imperative." The forum, at the Alyeska Resort in the Chugach Mountains, near Anchorage, will bring together international policymakers, industry, and investment leaders to consider topics such as security, resources, port development, marine shipping, commerce, and trade. The goal of the gathering is to "sharpen the world's focus on the policy and investment needs of Arctic development through a series of high-level meetings, presentations and investor roundtables." Confirmed speakers include Fran Ulmer, Chair of the USARC; Edward Itta, Mayor of the North Slope Borough; Thomas Barrett, President of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company; Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations; Mead Treadwell, Lt. Gov. of the State of Alaska; David Rubenstein, Managing Director of the Carlyle Group; Reggie Joule, Alaska State Legislator; among others. 


4th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations, June 20-21, 2011.The symposium is co-hosted by the U.S. SCICEXicediminisharcticNational Ice Center (NIC) and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. This symposium addresses present and future impacts of rapid changes in Arctic Ocean sea ice cover 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., and the Commandant of the US Coast Guard ADM Robert Papp. The forum, the fourth in a series, is a key opportunity for federal entities to discuss their response to changes in both the Arctic environment and associated policies. Registration is now open.


7th Congress of the International Arctic Social Sciences, June 22-26, 2011Akureyri 

The 7th Congress, "Circumpolar Perspectives in Global Dialogue: Social Sciences Beyond the IPY," will be held in Akureyri, Iceland. The  Intl'

Congress of the Arctic Social Sciences is held every 3 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 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 conference 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 

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


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. 


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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