Arctic Update Header
December 20, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House is expected to adopt the conference report on the annual defense authorization. It considers two measures on the fiscal cliff, one on replacing the sequester and one on extending tax rates. The Senate will resume consideration of the emergency supplemental appropriations bill that would help communities hit bySuperstorm Sandy. The late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday.




USDA's Fairbanks Research Station Remains Empty. The fate of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's $1.2 million Fairbanks research station remains uncertain a year after the department announced the building's planned closure. The greenhouse complex, which sits empty on Geist Road, is about to enter a federal process for transfer or disposal. Construction of the facility was completed last spring, soon after the USDA's Agricultural Research Service announced it was eliminating its Alaska station and shipping 10 federal jobs out of the state. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 


capitalPost-Christmas Session Inevitable, Schumer Hints. Sen. Charles E. Schumer signaled Wednesday that a post-Christmas Senate session to handle any agreement on a package to avert the fiscal cliff is becoming inevitable. The New York Democrat said that some senators plan to head to Hawaii on Saturday to attend the funeral service for the late Democratic Sen. Daniel K. Inouye who died Monday. The service is scheduled to take place on Sunday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. Roll Call


UAF Lands $1.9 Million Linguistics Programs. The University of Alaska Fairbanks has received a $1.9 million federal grant to support Alaska Native language programs. The U.S. Department of Education grant will fund a three-year project to boost computer-assisted language learning programs and graduate education for teachers. The effort, dubbed the CALL project, is to support Native language programs in rural Alaska by graduating more Alaska Natives with doctoral and master's degrees. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


parnellGovernor Parnell Announces New Boards Appointments. December 18, 2012, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sean Parnell announced appointments to the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, Board of Nursing, State Commission for Human Rights, State Council on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, and Alaska Council on Emergency Medical Services.Governor Parnell reappointed Barbara Franks and Meghan Crow to the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council. The council works to broaden the public's awareness of suicide and the risk factors related to suicide; enhance suicide prevention services and programs throughout the state; and develop healthy communities through comprehensive, collaborative, community-based, and faith-based approaches. In addition, the council builds and strengthens partnerships between public and private entities that will advance suicide prevention efforts in the state. Anchorage Daily News


EPA EPA: No New Timetable for Bristol Bay Report. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it has no timetable for completing its review of the impacts of large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay region. The agency released a draft watershed assessment in May and had hoped for a final report as early as year's end. EPA said Wednesday that it's updating the assessment in response to over 230,000 public comments and comments from a peer review panel. EPA said it hasn't set a new timeline for completing its work. Anchorage Daily News


Mikulski to Replace Inouye as Senate Appropriations Chair. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., is expected to take over the gavel of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee after Sen. Patrick Leahy opted against taking the post. Mikulski has been a member of the committee and its Defense subcommittee for years, and would become the upper chamber's appropriator as Pentagon and other federal spending is slowing. Federal Times


Salazar, KenSalazar Announces Alaska Petroleum Reserve Plan. The Interior Department's plan for managing a vast petroleum reserve on Alaska's North Slope calls for a roughly 50-50 split between conservation and oil development plus accommodation for a pipeline that could carry offshore Arctic Ocean oil to the trans-Alaska pipeline.Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday announced that the plan will allow for development of nearly 12 million acres within the 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, an area roughly the size of Indiana. Anchorage Daily News


ICS Map Future for Arctic Shipping. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which represents over 80% of the world merchant fleet, has issued a new position paper on Arctic shipping. As the Arctic becomes more accessible, ICS has set out some key principles with regard to the future governance of Arctic waters. Offshore support vessel activity is already significant, while destination shipping is anticipated to grow as the extraction of energy and raw materials is developed. Use of the Northern Sea Route is also a reality for a small but increasing number of ships in the summer months. Maritime Journal


arcticcouncil Asian Nations Push for Permanent Observer Status on Arctic Council. China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea are pushing to become permanent observers on the Arctic Council, seen as the key body influencing Arctic affairs. The Arctic Council started in 1996 and was mainly concerned with coordinating the protection of the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples but has become an increasingly political institution as melting ice opens the prospect of new trade routes and oil and gas exploration. The eight permanent members of the Arctic Council are Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, the United States, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden. Radio Australia


NASA's Operation Icebridge Data Brings New Twist to Sea Ice Forecasting. Shrinking Arctic sea ice grabbed the world's attention again earlier this year with a new record low minimum. Growing economic activity in the Arctic, such as fishing, mineral exploration and shipping, is emphasizing the need for accurate predictions of how much of the Arctic will be covered by sea ice. Every June, an international research group known as the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) publishes a summary of the expected September Arctic sea ice minimum known as the Sea Ice Outlook. The initial reports and monthly updates aim to give the scientific community and public the best available information on sea ice. Researchers rely on models that use estimated ice thickness data and simulated atmospheric conditions to forecast how sea ice will change during the summer. For the first time, near real-time ice thickness data obtained by NASA's Operation IceBridge has been used to correct a forecast model's initial measurements, which could lead to improved seasonal predictions. e! Science News 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  



H.R. 1, Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act [including marine debris funding-Hurricane Sandy relief funding vehicle] (Rogers, considered on the Senate floor)


S. 1980, the Pirate Fishing Elimination Act (Inouye, Senate Commerce Committee report filed)


S. 2388, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps Amendments Act of 2012 (Begich, Senate Commerce Committee report filed)

Future Events                      


Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 21-25, 2013. Since 2002, scientists from Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond have come to the Symposium to communicate research activities in the marine regions off Alaska. Researchers and students in marine science re-connect with old colleagues and meet new ones. Plenary and poster sessions feature a broad spectrum of ocean science. Hear the latest in the fields of climate, oceanography, lower trophic levels, the benthos, fishes and invertebrates, seabirds, marine mammals, local and traditional knowledge, and socioeconomic research. The Symposium also features compelling keynote speakers, workshops and special sessions.


Alaska Forum on the Environment, February 4-8, 2013. Hosted by The Alaska Forum, Inc. the 2013 Alaska Forum on the Environment will follow up on previous forums by offering training and information, includes plenary sessions, on: climate change, emergency response, environmental regulations, fish and wildlife populations, rural issues, energy, military issues, business issues, solid waste, contaminants, contaminated site cleanup, mining and others.  For 2013, the forum will expand forum content to provide information to help better understand issues surrounding coastal communities. This will include tsunami impacts, marine debris, and coastal erosion.


Wakefield28th Wakefield Symposium: Responses of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change, March 26-29, 2013. This symposium seeks to advance our understanding of responses of arctic marine ecosystems to climate change at all trophic levels, by documenting and forecasting changes in environmental processes

and species responses to those changes. Presentations will focus on collaborative approaches to understanding and managing living marine resources in a changing Arctic, and to managing human responses to changing arctic marine ecosystems. Hosted by Alaska Sea Grant and sponsors. 


American Polar Society 75th Anniversary, April 15-18, 2013. The American Polar Society will hold a meeting and symposium at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This meeting and symposium is titled "The Polar Regions in the 21st Century: Globalization, Climate Change and Geopolitics."


Arctic Observing Summit 2013, April 30- May 2, 2013. The Arctic Observing Summit is led by the International Study of Arctic Change (ISAC). It is a Sustaining Arctic Observing Network (SAON) task and part of the broader SAON implementation process, which is led by the Arctic Council jointly with the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). AOS is a high-level, biennial summit that aims to provide community-driven, science-based guidance for the design, implementation, coordination and sustained long term (decades) operation of an international network of arctic observing systems. The AOS will provide a platform to address urgent and broadly recognized needs of arctic observing across all components of the arctic system, including the human component. It will foster international communication and coordination of long-term observations aimed at improving understanding and responding to system-scale arctic change. The AOS will be an international forum for optimizing resource allocation through coordination and exchange among researchers, funding agencies, and others involved or interested in long term observing activities, while minimizing duplication and gaps.


International Conference on Arctic Ocean Acidification, May 6-8, 2013.

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, and the University of British Columbia, Canada, host a conference to consider Arctic Ocean acidification. Topics will include

response of Arctic Ocean to increasing CO2 and related changes in the global carbon cycle, social and policy challenges, Arctic Ocean acidification and ecological and biogeochemical coupling, implications of changing Arctic Ocean acidification for northern (commercial and subsistence) fisheries, and future developments.

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