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April 17, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House will consider legislation regarding gas prices and hunting and fishing legislation. The Senate will consider postal service overhaul legislation.



Charlie Johnson

A Commemoration of Charlie Johnson, former USARC Commissioner, by USARC Chair Fran Ulmer


It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Charlie Johnson on April 12, 2012. The Arctic has lost a strong leader and a truly innovative thinker. Charlie was the Executive Director of the Nanuq Commission at the time of his death, but his history was rich in Arctic-related leadership positions, including one as a former USARC Commissioner.


As Chair of the USARC, I speak for the Commission in honoring Charlie. He set examples by "doing", such as with his involvement with the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the Indigenous People's Council for Marine Mammals, the US Marine Mammal Commission and with Russian Native exchange, to name just a few. He was an inspiration to a new generation of local leaders in Alaska and set a high bar for those working in the circumpolar Arctic. Charlie was a wonderful person to work with, always quick with a smile and a story to tell. His positive attitude was a great asset to any group he worked with. He will be greatly missed.


"We keep each other alive with our stories. We need to share them, as much as we need to share food. We also require for our health the presence of good companions. One of the most extraordinary things about the land is that it knows this-and it compels language from some of us so that as a community we may converse about this or that place, and speak of the need." -- Barry Lopez



Fran Ulmer

Chair, US Arctic Research Commission


House, Senate Plan Markups of Rival Commerce-Justice-Science Bills. Subcommittees in both the House and Senate are expected to mark up the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bills this week, offering the first glimpse at the two chambers' competing spending proposals for law enforcement programs in the coming fiscal year. The C-J-S Appropriations Subcommittee in the Senate will hold its markup Tuesday afternoon. The same subcommittee in the House has scheduled a tentative markup for its own measure for April 19. Aides would not disclose details about the bills. But the two measures are likely to have significant differences in their overall appropriations levels and in which aspects of the C-J-S budgets are prioritized. The House will be working to meet tougher spending caps set out by the recently passed budget resolution from Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis. The Senate will be working toward higher numbers under the bipartisan debt ceiling deal reached last summer. Congressional Quarterly


greenlandGreenland May Be Slip-Sliding Away Due to Surface Lake Melting. Like snow sliding off a roof on a sunny day, the Greenland Ice Sheet may be sliding faster into the ocean due to massive releases of meltwater from surface lakes, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder-based Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. Science Daily 







defense spendingDefense Budget Becoming Divisive Political Background for Election Year. Defense policy lawmakers say they plan to avoid partisan battles over the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill, but that will be difficult in the current climate. Indeed, with the House Armed Services subcommittees set to begin marking up the defense policy bill next week, there is already a key disagreement to overcome. Panel Republicans have indicated they will follow the lead of House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., who has proposed a $554 billion total defense budget that would provide $8 billion more than allowed under the caps set in last year's deficit reduction law (PL 112-25). Congressional Quarterly


oil spill in open oceanCuts at Environment Canada Means Fewer Left to Clean Up Oil-Spill Mess. The unit at Environment Canada that responds to oil-spill emergencies will be dramatically scaled back and most of its regional offices will be closed to meet the cost-cutting demands of the federal government. "My entire program, which is about 60 people nationwide, got notices" saying their jobs could be eliminated, one of the employees who works for the Environmental Emergencies Program said Friday. "Everybody in the program is going to be vying for positions because the organization is being cut in half." The Globe and Mail 


US Navy Navigates a Sea Change in the Arctic. Last September, at the international Arctic Forum in the Russian city of Arkhangelsk, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin compared new Arctic shipping routes to the Suez Canal. The Northern Sea Route, he said, which follows the country's northern coastline, would dramatically shorten trade routes between Europe and China. The new shipping routes are possible due to the declining extent and thickness of summer Arctic sea ice. Although completely ice-free summers in the Arctic Ocean are not expected for at least another three decades, impacts of the decline are already evident: For two consecutive years, the Northwest Passage and Northern Sea Route have been passable for ship traffic during summer months. In addition to opening new shipping passages, an increasingly accessible Arctic is attracting increased resource exploration, scientific research and even tourism. Shipping companies, entrepreneurs, scientists and tourists, however, are not the only ones looking north; militaries around the world, including the U.S. Navy, also have an interest. Earth Magazine 


Coast Guard SealCoast Guard Arctic Focus Might Impact Drug War. Regardless of the politics surrounding global warming, the fact is the amount of ice around the Arctic Circle has decreased over the last decade and that has created the potential for new trade routes and additional sources of energy. That means a bigger role for the Coast Guard, but in tight budgetary times, a plus-up in one mission area mandates an equal drawdown in another.  And in this case, the reduction would most likely impact the service's war on drugs in which it has been the lead player in interdicting cocaine bound for the U.S. "That [Arctic mission] will come at the expense of some other mission ... most likely we'll draw down drug interdiction missions to send a national security cutter up there," Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp said on Monday. "Or more fisheries are left unprotected, or something else out there." 


US Senators Move to Save Old Icebreaker. The USS/USCG Glacier is far from her prime and floating in a federal mothball fleet, but both of Alaska's U.S. senators have moved to get the U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD) to save this piece of floating history from the scrapyard. The ice breaker that helped found McMurdo Station on Antarctica and performed a record-breaking 39 Arctic and Antarctic deployments may become scrap despite more than a decade of repairs and studies aimed at making the ship a museum or medical and scientific ship. Juneau Empire 


caribouPorcupine Caribou Board Meets Wednesday in Fairbanks. The International Porcupine Caribou Board is meeting in Fairbanks on Wednesday to hear an update on the joint Canada-U.S. effort to protect the Porcupine Caribou Herd. The meeting is from 7-9 p.m. at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center on Dunkel Street. The meeting on Wednesday is to discuss a communications strategy, compare harvest management plans in Alaska and Canada, discuss the Arctic Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan, and identify potential developments that may impact the Porcupine Caribou Herd and its habitat. Fairbanks Daily News Miner 


Mines Threaten Reindeer Herders: Largest iron ore deposit in the world in same region as traditional Swedish culture. Niila Inga is a Swedish Saami who has reindeer herding in his blood. But Inga's way of life is being threatened. The region he calls home also happens to contain the largest iron ore deposit in the world. Ninety per cent of all iron ore used in Europe comes from there. For more than 100 years, mining companies have been creeping deeper and deeper into Saami territory. Today, companies from all over the world exploit the rich deposit.

"The mining that's going on will kill our reindeer herding," said Inga. Existing mines have already created a small bottleneck where the reindeer can cross every year. "And now there is a new proposed project that cuts off our land in two parts. It would be impossible to cross, impossible to move our reindeer from winter lands to summer lands." Northern News Service 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events               


Law of the Sea-Threat to National Security or Vital to National Prosperity?April 18, 2012. There will be a panel discussion on the Law of the Sea at the Sea Air Space Expo, a program of the Navy League of the United States.  


Arctic Science Summit Week 2012, April 20-22, 2012. The summit will provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in all areas of arctic science. Side meetings organized by stakeholders in arctic science and policy are also expected. More information here


From Knowledge to Action, April 22-27, 2012. The conference will bring IPYmeetinglogotogether 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. Click here


USARC Commission Meeting, April 27-28, 2012. The 97th meeting of the CPClogoUSARC will be held in Montreal, Canada, in conjunction with the "From Knowledge to  


usarc logo large

Action" IPY meeting referred to above. The Commission will meet on April 27-28, and will meet jointly with the Canadian Polar Commission on the afternoon of the 27th, to discuss common interests in Arctic Research. Details here. 


Arctic Forum 2012, April 30-May 1, 2012. The Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. will host the forum in conjunction with their 24th annual meeting. Both events will be in Washington, D.C. The Arctic Forum is part of the American Geophysical Union's Science Policy Conference, which will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The Conference will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions. Within the Science Policy Conference, the Arctic Forum will assess gaps and priority needs for arctic scientific information to inform decision makers in policy formation for three key themes:

                - Governance and Security in the Arctic;

                - Transportation and Energy Development; and

                - Changing Arctic Ecosystems.

The Forum will examine the current state of policymaker and public understanding of the issues. An important goal will be to foster an increased capacity for dialogue and action on arctic science-policy issues.


AGU Science Policy Conference, April 30- May 3, 2012. The American Geophysical Union hosts a policy conference in Washington, D.C. to bring together scientists, policymakers, and other stakeholders to discuss key Earth and space science topics that address challenges to our environment, economy, national security, and public safety. This meeting will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions related to natural hazards, natural resources, oceans, and the Arctic. 


[Postponed]American Polar Society 75th Anniversary Meeting and Symposium, "The Polar Regions in the 21st Century: Globalization, Climate Change and Geopolitics", to occur in 2013, The Explorers Club, NYC. For 75 years, the American Polar Society has both documented and communicated polar activities to the interested world. This meeting will bring together the current leaders in science, government, commerce, and diplomacy for a state-of-the-art forecast of the next seventy-five years in a world influenced more than ever before by the destiny of the Arctic and Antarctic. Click 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. Click here.  


15th International Congress on Circumpolar Health, August 5-10, 2012. This event 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 healthmeetinglogoindigenous 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. Click here


The Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24-28, 2012. The summit will be hosted by Alaska Dispatch and will bring together leading voices in this conversation, including residents from the small villages that comprise Alaska's coastal communities, state, national and international leaders, the heads of shipping and industry, as well as international policymakers and the news media. The goal of the summit is to sharpen the focus on the policy and investment needs of Alaska's Arctic through a series of high level meetings, presentations, investor roundtables and original research. Click here


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 inuitconferencelogomuseums 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, click here. 



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