Arctic Update Header
July 12, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House is slated to vote on legislation to expedite permitting on critical mineral mines. The senate will continue to consider expiring tax cuts.



Yesterday, senators Begich and Murkowski sent a letter to President Obama regarding the development of Arctic policy. An online link to the letter should be available soon.  In the letter, the senators stated:


"As you know, U.S. Arctic policy was updated and strengthened in January, 2009, with the signing of the National Security Presidential Directive 66 (NSPD-66) and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 25 (HSPD-25). Since then, that policy has advanced in a less than organized fashion, with multiple federal agencies creating their own departmental policies, roadmaps, and vision and strategy statements to help guide future development. We think it is now time to take the next step in this policy development: creation of an overall national U.S. strategy for the Arctic."



Oil Drilling in AlaskaOffshore Oil Drilling in the U.S. Arctic, Part One: Legal Context. The Arctic region represents the next frontier for oil and gas development. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) predicts that the Arctic region surrounding Alaska has huge deposits of technically recoverable crude oil. Estimates of crude oil reach as high as 29.96 billion barrels near Alaska compared to a total estimate of 89.98 billion barrels for the entire Arctic region as a whole. This means the waters surrounding Alaska hold about 33% of all technically recoverable oil in the Arctic, the largest of any other Arctic country. The technically recoverable reserves in Alaska also represent about one-third of the total of technically recoverable reserves on the U.S. outer continental shelf. The Arctic Institute 


Visiting Seal Offers Clues in Arctic Mystery: Animal's health being monitored as part of effort to find answers in large 'mortality event.' A seal visiting Squamish's waterfront may hold part of the key to solving the alarming deaths of seals, walruses and polar bears in the waters off of Alaska. On Sunday (July 8), Squamish resident Wally Fletcher saw a ribbon seal while birdwatching along Cattermole Slough. Named after its impressive white ring markings, the species is native to the cold waters of the Bering Sea - more than 2,300 kilometres away. "I was just excited to see it," Fletcher said. The Chief 


Alcohol AbuseBing Drinking Soars in Arctic Canada. A new Canadian study adds fuel to the perception that alcohol abuse worsens the farther north one travels. Binge drinking is on the rise in Canada and northern people of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are the heaviest drinkers in the country, according to a 2011 Canadian Community Health Survey that defined binge drinking as consuming five or more drinks at a time, at least once a month. In the latest survey by Statistics Canada, 19 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they were heavy drinkers, compared to 17 per cent the previous year. That 2011 survey pegs the Northwest Territories with the highest rate of binge drinkers at 31 percent. Alaska Dispatch 


Rise in Sea Level Can't Be Stopped: Scientists. A lot of climate research shows that rising greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for increasing global average surface temperatures by about 0.17 degrees Celsius a decade from 1980-2010 and for a sea level rise of about 2.3mm a year from 2005-2010 as ice caps and glaciers melt. Rising sea levels threaten about a tenth of the world's population who live in low-lying areas and islands which are at risk of flooding, including the Caribbean, Maldives and Asia-Pacific island groups. More than 180 countries are negotiating a new global climate pact which will come into force by 2020 and force all nations to cut emissions to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius this century - a level scientists say is the minimum required to avert catastrophic effects. Reuters 


begichBegich Introduces Renewable Energy Research Legislation. Co-sponsored by Sen. Olympia Snowe, (R-ME), the bill directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to implement a research program designed to collect, monitor, and distribute environmental data to assist development of renewable energy, particularly related to ocean energy. "Alaska has tremendous renewable energy resources. Wave and tidal energy is getting more traction every day with projects moving ahead in Cook Inlet, Yakutat, and Juneau," Begich said. "My bill will help energy companies identify new potential sites for tidal and wave energy and over the long-term help Alaska communities bring down their energy prices and grow the local economy." Alaska Native News 


Earliest Americans Arrived in Waves, DNA Study Finds. North and South America were first populated by three waves of migrants from Siberia rather than just a single migration, say researchers who have studied the whole genomes of Native Americans in South America and Canada. Some scientists assert that the Americas were peopled in one large migration from Siberia that happened about 15,000 years ago, but the new genetic research shows that this central episode was followed by at least two smaller migrations from Siberia, one by people who became the ancestors of today's Eskimos and Aleutians and another by people speaking Na-Dene, whose descendants are confined to North America. The research was published online on Wednesday in the journal Nature. New York Times 


canadian flagGovernment Planning on Seven Armed Arctic Vessels. The Conservative government's $35-billion shipbuilding plan has always an included a few questions about exactly how many vessels will be built. One example is that the government has long said it would purchase between six and eight armed vessels for the Arctic. Given recent reports that budget cuts had reduced the affordability of the Conservative government's long-term strategy for equipping the military, and given that the first Arctic patrol ship will be delivered three years later than expected - which reduces the purchasing power of the money set aside for the project because of inflation - many had expected the final total to be six. But speaking to reporters in Halifax on Tuesday, where he was announcing the awarding of the shipbuilding plan's first-ever contract, Defense Minister Peter MacKay split the difference.

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events    


Polar Research Board Meeting, July 13-14, 2012. The Polar Research Board will hold a meeting in Portland, OR. Additional information to follow.           



healthmeetinglogo15th 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 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.


98th meeting of the US Arctic Research Commission, August 9-10, 2012. Fairbanks, AK. For more information, go to USARC 98th Meeting Draft Agenda 


Week of the Arctic, August 13-18, 2012. The Arctic is front and center in peoples' minds.  Increased maritime traffic and new opportunities for development have brought about more reasons to understand and work toward safe and secure operations both on land and off Alaska's coast. To help Alaskans understand these critical challenges and issues at stake in the Arctic, the Institute convened the first Week of the Arctic last year, drawing over 550 participants to five events in four days. The 2012 Week of the Arctic will take place August 13-18 in Anchorage, Alaska. Week of the Arctic events will include:

The Week of the Arctic's signature event is the annual Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award Dinner on Friday, August 17th. This year we'll be recognizing Red Dog Mine for their sustainable development in the North.


2nd Cargo Airships of Northern Operations Workshop, August 22-24, 2012. Researchers from NASA Ames Research Center will provide insights into the new technologies that form the solid engineering basis for modern cargo airship systems. Speakers from the mining, oil, and gas industries will describe their transportation challenges and how they plan to exploit cargo airships in support of their businesses. Local Alaskan air freight firms will discuss how cargo airships can complement existing air transport fleets by providing additional capability and expanding air shipping services. The world's leading developers of airships will provide design and operational details on new cargo airships they're currently developing and preparing to deploy for commercial service. Representatives from the financial community will present the many options available for what has often been the missing element of airship development and operations, funding. The website will soon be updated. 


The Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24-27, 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.


inuitconferencelogoArctic/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.  


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.

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