Arctic Update Header
December 24, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate convenes at noon for pro forma session. The House and Senate will reconvene for legislative business on December 27th.   


The Arctic Update will not be published tomorrow.  The Update will resume on Wednesday.  Happy holidays!



capital New Year's Eve in D.C. Becomes More Likely for Congress. With the continued impasse on forging a year-end budget deal, C-SPAN might want to look into acquiring the rights to "Auld Lang Syne" for coverage of a New Year's Eve congressional session. The House and Senate are already scheduled to return to Washington on Dec. 27, but lawmakers on Sunday expressed a wide-range of opinions on what their leaders should do next and resignation that their holiday will likely be truncated, if practically non-existent. Roll Call


Earmarks' Demise Adds to Spending Panel Woes. Earmark opponents couldn't help but feel a little satisfied this week when Democratic Sens. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and Tom Harkin of Iowa turned down the previously much sought after post of Appropriations chairman. "Without earmarks, it's not nearly the power that the committee had before," Sen. John McCain said. The Arizona Republican is a long-time critic of member directed spending to pet projects tucked into spending bills. Roll Call


ringseal Two Species of Seals Join Polar Bears on Threatened List. Two types of ice seals joined polar bears Friday on the list of species threatened by the loss of sea ice, which scientists say reached record low levels this year due to climate warming. Ringed seals, the main prey of polar bears, and bearded seals in the Arctic Ocean will be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced. Anchorage Daily News


Begich Slams FDA on Salmon. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, has criticized a recent draft report by the Food and Drug Administration finding that genetically engineered salmon holds "no significant impact" on the environment or public health. "The notion that consuming Frankenfish is safe for the public and our oceans is a joke," Begich stated in a news release last week. Begich is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


Polar bear Polar Bear Trade, Hunting Spark Controversy. The polar bear was a mile away and began running toward the dog sled, quickly closing the distance on the frozen Arctic waters of Canada's Resolute Bay. One of Mark Beeler's Inuit guides released two dogs to distract it while Beeler, a skilled bow hunter, quickly shot three arrows, piercing the animal's heart and lungs. "You're thinking, I can't believe I paid this much money to be this close to a dangerous bear," said Beeler, who was less than 15 yards from the nearly 10-foot-tall adult male when it came down. Washington Post


Alaska Forests in Transition. In almost every patch of boreal forest in Interior Alaska that Glenn Juday has studied since the 1980s, at least one quarter (and as many as one-half) of the aspen, white spruce and birch trees are dead. "These are mature forest stands that were established 120 to 200 years ago," said Juday, a professor of forest ecology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences. "Big holes have appeared in the stands." Alaska Native News 


Setting Up International Arctic Governance. The Arctic zone is extremely rich in mineral, hydrocarbon and biological resources. The U.S. Geological Survey states the "extensive Arctic continental shelves may constitute the geographically largest unexplored prospective area for petroleum remaining on Earth." The survey also estimates that the Arctic holds 30 percent of the world's natural gas and 13 percent of its oil. Russia Beyond the Headlines


russian flag Russia to Grant Unprecedented Tax Cuts on Arctic Exploration. Russian authorities have agreed to lift all export duties for new projects in the Arctic shelf to boost investment in the area. The new tax breaks are expected to come into force by the end of this year. "We managed to come to the agreement with the Ministry of Energy and with the Ministry of Economic Development. We settled all the differences and agreed how the new legislation will work," Deputy Minister of Finance Sergey Shatalov said in a statement. Under the new legislation operators of shelf projects will be granted tax relief from 5 to 15 years, including tax breaks on export duties as well as import duty and VAT for purchased equipment. The Ministry of Energy proposed to classify shelf projects in four levels from basic to Arctic so as to implement proper tax breaks. The same tax policy will be applied to oil projects, launched from 2016. RT


Editorial: A US Presence in the Arctic. Changing environmental and political conditions in the Arctic reinforce the need for the U.S. Coast Guard to have the equipment and vessels appropriate to the hazardous conditions. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens, joined forces to secure passage of a Coast Guard authorization bill that maintains the nation's capacity to deploy icebreakers to represent U.S. interests. Melting polar ice caps are creating a new commercial and political dynamic, with the prospects of greater Arctic access as a trade route. Seattle Times


arcticcouncil Canada Prepares to Focus Arctic Council on Increased Development. Canada will use its two years as leader of the circumpolar world to promote development and defend its policies, suggest federal politicians and documents. But Arctic experts and those involved with the Arctic Council worry that's the wrong approach at a time when the diplomatic body is dealing with crucial international issues from climate change to a treaty on oil spill prevention. The Arctic Council consists of the eight countries that ring the North Pole, with participation from aboriginal groups. Alaska Dispatch

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

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.


Development of a 5-Year Strategic Plan for Oil Spill Research in Canadian Arctic Waters, January 28-29, 2013. This workshop is sponsored by the Environmental Studies Research Fund (ESRF), a research program which sponsors environmental and social studies pertaining petroleum exploration, development, and production activities on frontier lands. The ESRF is directed by a joint government, industry and public management board and is administered by the secretariat, which resides in the Office of Energy Research and Development, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. The workshop is held in an effort to produce a 5-year strategic plan for oil spill research in Canadian Arctic marine waters.


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. 


Arctic Science Summit Week, April 13-19, 2013. Krakow, Poland. The ASSW is the annual gathering of international organizations engaged in supporting and facilitating Arctic research. Its purpose is to provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration and cooperation in all fields of Arctic science and to combine science and management meetings. Side meetings organized by groups with interest in the Arctic science and policy will also be held within the week.
One of them is already planned: The Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) will offer a one-day career development workshop during the ASSW 2013. Details will be published closer to the event:


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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