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September 2, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate is not in session.  The House will hold a pro forma session where many bills are expected to be introduced.

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


How Arctic Oil Could Break New Ground: Oil Drilling in AlaskaAs ExxonMobil Beats BP to Strike a Deal for Russian Arctic Oil, What Does it Mean for the Industry- and the Environment? In an age of diminishing resources but soaring populations, the scramble for the Arctic's riches continues. Months after BP's rival bid fell through, US oil giant ExxonMobil has just struck a £2bn agreement to develop vast hydrocarbon resources in the Kara Sea, off Russia's northern coast, in return for offering its Russian partner, Rosneft, assets in the US. In one sense the deal is, of course, a very welcome development. Far from fulfilling dark prophecies of conflict and confrontation between rival governments, the Arctic's resources are instead bringing nations closer together, moving in step with the mysterious, unpredictable pace at which regional ice is retreating: US experts, using advanced satellite information, have shown that ice in the Arctic Ocean is continuing to "decline at a brisk pace", even if this year's figure is not set to match the record low of 2007. The Guardian  


Canadian Icebreaker Joins the Polar Parade. It's getting almost crowded at the North Pole - and a lot easier to get there. Barely 10 days after the German icebreaker Polarstern reached the North Pole, the elderly Canadian icebreaker Louis St. Laurent and its newer, more powerful American consort, Healy, were only a few kilometres away and expected to reach the top of the world Friday. For the Louis St. Laurent, it will be the second visit to the Pole, 17 years after the first. Massive declines in Arctic ice cover - especially the near-total melt out of tough, multi-year ice that thwarted explorers for centuries and defeated even modern, powerful icebreakers until recent years - have made High Arctic passages more common and may soon see seasonal summer trade routes opening up. The Globe and Mail  


polar bear icePolar Bear Scientist Was Accused by Federal Worker. The controversial "polarbeargate" investigation into Arctic researcher Charles Monnett originated when allegations of scientific misconduct were made by a "seasoned, career Department of the Interior" employee. That's according to a new letter sent to Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) from the Department of the Interior's Office of Inspector General. For months, Monnett has been under investigation by that office. Agents have repeatedly asked him about an influential 2006 report he wrote on his observations of apparently drowned polar bears. The report became a symbol of the danger of melting ice and climate change. NPR 


Fisheries Officials Meet In Iqaluit for Federal Talks. Maintaining healthy stocks of arctic char, turbot and shrimp in Nunavut will be a chief concern for the territory as fisheries officials from across Canada are meeting this week in Iqaluit for annual talks. The meeting of the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquacultures Ministers, which allows provinces and territories to engage in a dialogue with Federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield, is being held for the first time in Nunavut. CBC News


Norway Looks at Gas Transport Pipeline From Barents Sea. Norway is looking at the possibility of establishing a pipeline to transport gas from the Barents Sea as the energy industry intensifies exploration efforts in the Arctic. Gassco, the state-owned operator for the Norwegian gas transportation system, Thursday said a new pipeline is being discussed, based on both proven and potential resources in the northern areas of the Scandinavian country. "We are still in an early phase of the study and both technical solutions and volumes are still undecided," Thor Otto Lohne, director of business development and finance at Gassco said in a statement. Wall Street Journal 

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Russian, U.S. Scientists Set to Study Methane Release in Arctic. A group of Russian and U.S. scientists will leave the port of Vladivostok on Friday on board a Russian research ship to study methane emissions in the eastern part of the Arctic. "This expedition was organized on a short notice by the Russian Fund of Fundamental Research and the U.S. National Science Foundation following the discovery of a dramatic increase in the leakage of methane gas from the seabed in the eastern part of the Arctic, said Professor Igor Semiletov, the head of the expedition. RIA Novosti 


NOAA Extends Comment Period for Proposed Halibut Regulations. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration met fierce opposition from the Halibut charter fishing industry in Homer when it announced planned regulations that would decimate the industry by limiting boats to catch one fish less than 37 inches each day. That change, which is spearheaded by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, has led some like Alaska Dispatch's Craig Medred to draw comparisons to mafia-style tactics. At least for 15 days, however, the Feds are taking a step back to allow time for additional comments from fishermen currently out on the water -- the deadline for comments is now Sept. 21. The change comes partly in thanks to a meeting NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco had with Sen. Mark Begich, he said in a press release. "As a direct result of the meeting (Begich) arranged in Homer last week for (Lubchenco) and the senator to meet with fishermen and others, NOAA has extended the comment period for the proposed halibut catch sharing plan," the release said. Alaska Dispatch


Minister Denies Political Interference in Environment Canada Cuts. Hundreds of job cuts announced over the summer at Environment Canada were not politically motivated and will not affect core services in the department, Environment Minister Peter Kent said Thursday. Speaking at length about the issue for the first time since the cuts - affecting nearly 800 positions - were confirmed in August, Kent also rejected accusations from opposition parties that the decision was deliberately imposed to muzzle scientists conducting research that contradicts government policies. The Montreal Gazette  

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.


Future Events                     


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 exchanging 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 Hveragerši, 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. 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 developed or developing Arctic regions, and, second, to look at the evolving relationships between these spaces, their peoples, and global affairs. The meeting mainly 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).


From Knowledge to Action, April 22-27, 2012. The conference will bring together over 2,000 Arctic and Antarctic researchers, policy- and decision-makers, and a broad range of interested parties from academia, industry, non-government, education and circumpolar communities including indigenous peoples. The conference is hosted by the Canadian IPY Program Office in partnership with the National Research Council of Canada, among other groups. Each day of the conference will feature a program of keynote speakers, plenary panel discussions, parallel science sessions, as well as dedicated poster sessions. The conference-wide plenaries will explore themes related to topics of polar change, global linkages, communities and health, ecosystem services, infrastructure, resources and security. Other sessions will provide the opportunity to present and discuss the application of research findings, policy implications and how to take polar knowledge to action. 


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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