Arctic Update Header
January 4, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate will not hold formal sessions, subject to the call of the chairs.

Media Reviewtodaysevents 


Tons of Scrap to be Transported from Russian Arctic in 2012. Russia plans to continue its large scale clean up of Arctic islands in 2012. As much as 18,000 tons of scrap metal will be shipped out through the Nenets port of Amderma. Russia's Minister of Natural Resources and Environment plans to continue reversing accumulated environmental damage in the Arctic. In 2012, Russia will focus on cleaning up polluted areas on Svalbard and Amderma. Barents Observer


Oil Drilling in AlaskaOur Environment Should Speak Louder Than Lobbyists. [Opinion] On Dec. 16, 2011 the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) gave Shell Oil conditional approval of their Chukchi Sea exploratory drilling plan. The agency directed Shell to shorten the proposed drilling season by 38 days to ensure that, if an accident occurs, they can cap a well blowout and clean up a spill before the sea ice returns. Alaska's congressional delegation immediately blasted BOEM for being short-sighted. But are they really defending the merits of Shell's plan or are putting their trust in the oil lobbyist talking points? Juneau Empire 


Budget of Federal Office for Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Slashed. The federal office in charge of smoothing out permits for a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope has a much smaller budget. Money for the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects was cut from $4 million to $1 million in the recently signed 2012 federal budget. The slashed budget comes on the heels of increased interest in developing an in-state natural gas pipeline for domestic use and foreign export to Asia. Gov. Sean Parnell, in October, said his administration would shift focus to such a line. But the decrease in spending doesn't spell disaster for the pipeline or the office, said Larry Persily, the federal coordinator. Persily said the office has been running under budget, at about $3 million, for the last few years and has some money in reserves to continue working on the pipeline. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 


Seal Brendan KellyTissue From Sick Seals in Alaska to be Tested For Radiation. Tissue samples from Alaska's sickened ringed seals will be analyzed for evidence of radiation, but the scientist preparing to do so says he doubts there's a connection to the Japanese nuclear plant damaged by a tsunami last year. "My gut feeling is that there's nothing there, that the answer lies in something else that's in the sea," said John Kelly, a professor emeritus of chemical oceanography at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The tsunami damaged the Fukushima nuclear plan March 11. In July, sick and dead ringed seals started showing up on the Beaufort Sea coast near Barrow with lesions on hind flippers and inside their mouths. Stricken live seals were lethargic, allowing people to approach. Necropsies found fluid in lungs, white spots on livers and abnormal growth in brains. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 


Russian Fuel Tanker Due to Head For Ice-Encrusted Nome. Sometime Tuesday night, an Arctic tanker from the Russian Far East is expected to slip out of Dutch Harbor steaming northward for one of the most remote communities in the United States. It will be joined by an American polar icebreaker -- the cutter Healy, a state-of-the-art ship relatively new to the Coast Guard's fleet. Together, they will spend days powering through up to 300 miles of sea ice, a first for winter shipping in Alaska. Home-ported in Vladivostok, Russia, the Renda has been commissioned to carry 1.3 million gallons of home-heating fuel and gasoline to Nome. Late Tuesday, it cleared its state port exam, leaving one last bureaucratic hurdle enforced by Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation. Alaska Dispatch 


Editorial: Proceed With Caution in Alaska. After what happened last year when BP's oil well blew out and dumped millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, the idea of drilling for oil in the frigid Arctic Ocean off northern Alaska sounds risky. The Arctic Ocean is much shallower than the Gulf of Mexico. Shell would drill in 160 feet of water or less, compared with the mile-deep water where BP was drilling in the Gulf. And well pressures off Alaska are just a third to a half what they are where BP drilled. If something did go horribly wrong, Shell would benefit from BP's experience. USA Today 


Scientists Probe Ozone-Chewing 'Chemical Cauldron:' Last year's unprecedented hole over Arctic has researchers wary about 2012. High over the Arctic, winds swirling around the pole in the winter darkness are isolating an air mass that will grow colder in coming weeks. It will create what James Drummond, atmospheric physicist at Dalhousie University, calls a "chemical cauldron" around the pole - which can do nasty things to the protective ozone layer. Last year, the cauldron chewed an unprecedented hole in the ozone. There will be plenty of concern if there is a repeat in 2012. Montreal Gazette


permafrostAlaska Lake Bed Cores Show Expanding Arctic Shrubs May Slow Erosion. The relationship between permafrost, Arctic vegetation, soil erosion, and changing air temperatures is complicated at best. For instance, rising temperatures melt surface permafrost layers and increase shrub growth. These shrubs can catch drifting snow, insulating the soil during the winter, and accelerate permafrost degradation-facilitating their own proliferation. PhysOrg


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered last week.

Future Events                                   


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 research


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.


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. 


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 to follow. 


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.  


The Arctic Imperative Summit, July 29-August 1, 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.


15th International Congress on Circumpolar Health, 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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