Arctic Update Header
January 18, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate is not in formal session.  The House will vote on a resolution to disapprove of the debt level increase.


Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 16-20, 2012. The symposium was first held in 2002 to connect scientists in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond in an effort to collaborate and communicate on researchAMSSlogo

activities in the marine regions off Alaska. There will be plenary and poster sessions featuring a broad spectrum of ocean science on issues of climate, oceanography, lower trophic levels, the benthos, fish and invertebrates, seabirds, marine mammals, local and traditional knowledge, and socioeconomic research. There will also be speakers, workshops and special sessions. Click here.


Media Reviewtodaysevents 


White House: Performance Chief to Serve as Acting Head of OMB. Deputy Director for Management and Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients will serve as Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the White House announced Tuesday. The news comes after OMB Director Jack Lew was named White House chief of staff last week. Zients was confirmed by the Senate as Deputy Director for Management of OMB in June 2009 and was the first person to hold the position of federal chief performance officer. Government Executive


ScienceCracking Open the Scientific Process. The New England Journal of Medicine marks its 200th anniversary this year with a timeline celebrating the scientific advances first described in its pages: the stethoscope (1816), the use of ether for anesthesia (1846), and disinfecting hands and instruments before surgery (1867), among others. For centuries, this is how science has operated - through research done in private, then submitted to science and medical journals to be reviewed by peers and published for the benefit of other researchers and the public at large. But to many scientists, the longevity of that process is nothing to celebrate. New York Times


Espionage May Be Linked to Arctic Dispute: Expert: Navy Intelligence Officer is Accused of Spying on Behalf of Unnamed Nation. A still-unfolding espionage case, involving a Royal Canadian Navy intelligence officer, could be connected to an ongoing territorial dispute in the Arctic, an intelligence expert said Tuesday. Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former intelligence officer with Canada's spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said his sources told him the duties of Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle in Halifax included monitoring the North Atlantic seas. Delisle had access to sensitive information, including the locations of sensors embedded in the bottom of the ocean that help authorities to monitor ship's movements. Montreal Gazette


arcticcouncilWarming Climate Attracts Non-Arctic Countries to Arctic Council. Drawn by rapid climate changes in the resource-rich Arctic, China, India and Brazil, which have no Arctic territories, are knocking on the door of the increasingly influential Arctic Council looking for admission as permanent observers. The issue has divided existing members, with Russia and Canada most strongly opposed. It is among the major questions with which Canada will have to grapple as it prepares to chair the Arctic Council next year. The issue is on the agenda of a two-day meeting on the future of the Arctic Council, which opened today in Toronto. The second annual Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Conference has attracted more than 100 participants from 15 nations, including experts, national ambassadors and indigenous leaders. Environment News Service


Russian Rivers Freshening the Water of Alaska's Beaufort Sea. Fresh water sloshing into the polar sea from the great rivers of Russia has been collecting on the Alaskan and Canadian side of the Arctic, adding the equivalent of 10 feet of freshwater to the central Beaufort Sea between 2003 and 2008, according to a new study published this month in Nature. The ocean northeast of Alaska is now the freshest it's been in 50 years, the scientists said, but only a tiny proportion of that can be blamed on ice melt. Most of it can be traced to Eurasian river runoff, following a previously undetected pathway from one side of the world to the other. "A hemisphere-wide phenomenon - and not just regional forces - has caused record-breaking amounts of freshwater to accumulate in the Arctic's Beaufort Sea," wrote Sandra Hines of the University of Washington. Alaska Dispatch


Oil Drilling in AlaskaThe Next "Arctic Five" Will be Oil Companies, not Nations. [Commentary] It's the time of year when bloggers indulge themselves by offering predictions, and I shall be no different. The Arctic's past belonged to peoples, and the present goes to states, but I will predict that the future will see big oil companies as the primary actor in Arctic affairs. One of the big stories in Arctic geopolitics in the past four years is the development of the 'Arctic Five', or A5 (the five states that have coastlines bordering the Arctic Ocean including Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Norway, Russia and USA) beginning with the May 2008 meeting in Ilulissat, Greenland. Alaska Dispatch 


Northerners Must Guide Military to Protect Arctic Sovereignty. As polar nations beef up military resources in the race to defend the Arctic, they must be guided by the native northern dwellers who best know how to protect the region, says Defence Minister Peter MacKay. In a speech prepared for an international conference on Arctic governance and security at the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for Global Affairs, MacKay said the historical significance of the North is part of Canada's cultural make-up, but changes are occurring at a "rapid rate." Weather prevented MacKay from travelling to the conference, but he delivered the address to conference members by video. iPolitics 


defense spendingDOD's Strategy for Arctic Lacking, Agency Reports. The Defense Department lacks a clear strategy for ensuring it will have the resources to operate in the Arctic, which is gaining strategic importance as melting ice opens new shipping possibilities and potential access to untapped natural resources, according to a Government Accountability Office report. While the DOD has begun to assess the capabilities needed to better operate in the Arctic's harsh environment, the report said, it needs to better prepare to meet the challenges of navigating in the Arctic, where the U.S., Russia and other nations are competing for control of potentially valuable resources. 


AK Whaling BoatInuit Hunters Buttress Theory Arctic Ocean is Approaching 'Tipping Point.' The Arctic Ocean might look like an isolated body at the top of the world, but several multi-year investigations have found deep interconnections with the Pacific and Atlantic oceans -- and new evidence that the polar sea may be poised to undergo a dramatic change in structure and life, senior climate oceanographer Eddy Carmack told the opening session of an annual marine science conference in Anchorage. "Are we approaching a tipping point -- a new state?" Carmack said to several hundred scientists gathered at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in the Hotel Captain Cook ballroom. "In the Arctic, the non-linear future is here." Alaska Dispatch


An Arctic Council Security Agreement: Preventing Militarization and Ensuring Stability and Security of the Arctic (Part I). Imagine in 2040 the Arctic Ocean is navigable for an extended period each summer. Then imagine Arctic states' navies going to war, head-to-head, in the Arctic Ocean over natural resources. A computer game set to be released in the second quarter of 2012 called Naval War: Arctic Circle, imagines just such an environment. According to CPU Gamer, "In the future, civilization is still reliant on petroleum, but the easily accessible land-based oil reserves are dwindling rapidly. The nations of the far north struggle to harness the rich untapped wells of the Arctic Circle and will go to war to guarantee control of the black gold."[2] The irony of the scenario Naval War: Arctic Circle projects is exactly why an international mechanism is needed to preclude such a scenario. So it isn't to hard to imagine an Arctic where every Arctic nation has its own fleet of armed Arctic patrol ships. What would that kind of Arctic be like? Would it constitute a militarization of the Arctic? Would such a development encourage conflict? The more important question is how can Arctic states undertake Arctic Patrol Ship construction programs without jeopardizing the stability of the Arctic? The answer is to commit to an Arctic Council Security Agreement centered around the creation of a multi-national Arctic Response Force that recognizes and respects states, and their indigenous populations' sovereignty. The Arctic Institute   


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events                                   


Workshop: Responding to Arctic Environmental Change: Translating Our Growing Understanding into a Research Agenda for Action Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2012.   Queen's University, Kingston, Canada. Co-sponsored by International Study of ArcISAC logotic Change (ISAC) and the School of Policy Studies at Queen's University. Endorsed by the International Arctic Science Committee, this workshop is the first in a planned series of meetings that aim to collectively shape and coordinate initiatives for research that directly addresses the needs of stakeholders who are affected by change or who are addressing arctic environmental change. The long-term objective is to enable local people, the arctic nations and the wider global community, including the scientific community, to better respond to a changing Arctic. This workshop is a pre-IPY 2012 Conference event. It is intended to develop a science plan that will feed into and further evolve at IPY 2012 Conference "From Knowledge to Action". For more information and to register for the workshop go here. 


Juneau Arctic Policy Forum, February 2, 2012. The Juneau Arctic Policy Forum will be hosted by the Institute of the North and will highlight the work done to IONdevelop and promote Alaska's role in Arctic decision-making. There will be presentations and discussion about the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Arctic Caucus and results from the Northern Waters Task Force. We also hope to include updates from the U.S. Coast Guard and the University of Alaska. Click here.  



Arctic Policy Forum, February 16, 2012. This Arctic Policy Forum will feature a compelling panel discussion of the history, current issues, and future plans of IONNORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) in Alaska. This Arctic Policy Forum, hosted by the Institute of the North and sponsored by the Government of Canada, will leave participants with an increased understanding of:
* A 50 year partnership and cross-border collaboration
* Arctic governance and sovereignty
* Public safety; and search and rescue
* Maritime and aviation issues related to the Arctic environment



Arctic Workshop, March 7-9, 2012. The Workshop is hosted by the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. The meeting is open to all interested in the Arctic, and will consist of a series of talks and poster sessions covering all aspects of INSTAARhigh-latitude environments. Previous Arctic Workshops have included presentations on arctic and antarctic climate, archeology, environmental geochemistry, geomorphology, hydrology, glaciology, soils, ecology, oceanography, Quaternary history, and more. A traditional strength of the Workshop has been Arctic paleoenvironments. Click here


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  


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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 to follow. 


American Polar Society 75th Anniversary Meeting and Symposium, "The APSlogoPolar Regions in the 21st Century: Globalization, Climate Change and Geopolitics", May 2-4, 2012, 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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