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June 5, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 



The Senate will resume consideration of paycheck fairness legislation. The House will consider energy and water appropriations and several items under suspension of the rules.



russian flagHuman Rights Bills Could Complicate Normalizing of Russian Trade Relations. Congress is poised to move forward this month on legislation that would punish human rights abusers in Russia in what likely will be a necessary step toward granting Moscow permanent normalized trade relations. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled June 7 to mark up its version of a bill (HR 4405) to sanction Russian officials responsible for the death of jailed lawyer and activist Sergei Magnitsky. With a bipartisan group of cosponsors, including the chairman and ranking member of the committee, the bill is not expected to face serious obstacles. Congressional Quarterly


PanettaDOD Looks to Foreign Allies for Help Passing Law of the Sea Treaty. The Defense Department is looking for a little help from its friends overseas as the Pentagon and White House try to break Senate opposition to an international treaty on maritime law. Meeting with the defense chiefs of several Asian powers during the Shangri-La defense talks over the weekend, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta took the opportunity to continue his push for Senate ratification of the controversial Law of the Sea treaty. The Hill 


permafrostWarming Arctic Tundra Producing Pop-Up Forests. [Opinion] Even as insect infestations and other factors accompanying warming have led to the "browning" of some stretches of boreal forest between temperate regions and the Arctic tundra, the tundra appears to be greening in a big way, various studies have shown. The newest such work, focused on scrubby windswept regions along Russia's northwest Arctic coast, has found a particularly noteworthy shift is under way. In this part of the Arctic, which could be a bellwether for changes to come elsewhere with greenhouse-driven warming, what might be called pop-up forests are forming. Low tundra shrubs, many of which are willow and alder species, have rapidly grown into small trees over the last 50 years, according to the study, led by scientists from the Biodiversity Institute at the University of Oxford and the Arctic Center of the University of Lapland. The researchers foresee a substantial additional local warming influence from this change in landscapes, with the darker foliage absorbing sunlight that would otherwise be reflected back to space. But the fast-motion shift to forests will likely absorb carbon dioxide, as well. New York Times, Dot Earth Blog 


budgetCongress Should Cut Funding for Political Science Research. [Opinion] The Republican-dominated House passed an amendment to cut off funding for National Science Foundation political science research, and you and I should be outraged. It's not about the money, of course: only $11 million of NSF's $7 billion-plus budget goes to poli sci research. It's the principal of the thing. We just can't let politicians like Jeff Flake, the Republican from Arizona who sponsored the ban, decide what constitutes science worthy of federal support. Washington Post 


Arctic Oil Spill Investigated in Secret. A state watchdog wrapped up the investigation of an oil spill in the Russian Arctic, but named no names in what a WWF expert called a setback in an otherwise unusually efficient handling of the incident. Experts of the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Atomic Inspection established the people responsible and the technical causes behind the spill which took place on April 20 at the Trebs oil field in Nenets autonomous district, the agency's Pechorskoye branch said on its website on Tuesday. RIA Novosti


NOAALaura Furgione Named as Acting Assistant Administrator of NOAA's National Weather Service. On May 29th, Laura Furgione was named theFurgione Acting Assistant Administrator of the National Weather Service. Laura has been part of the NOAA family for almost 20 years, most recently serving as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for NWS and the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Program Planning and Integration. As most of you know, Laura spent many years in Alaska, where she was the Director of the NWS Alaska Region.  As Director, she was responsible for all operational and scientific climatological, meteorological, hydrological, volcanic ash and tsunami warning programs for the state of Alaska and its surrounding waters. Laura has been instrumental in advancing a comprehensive NOAA strategy in the Arctic, examining ways to improve NOAA workforce planning, and spearheading the complete redesign of how NOAA does strategic planning agency wide. As I have come to know Laura, I have appreciated her thoughtfulness, her dedication to the NOAA mission, and her ability to get things done. I think she will be a strong leader and skilled steward of the NWS organization. Please join me in congratulating her and thanking her for taking on this new role. NOAA 


Researchers Take on Ocean Acidification in Arctic Seas. The effects of ocean acidification on Arctic seas will be studied by a team of 30 researchers, including Dr Toby Tyrrell from the University of Southampton, who set sail from the UK last week, venturing as far north as polar ice allows. The study is the largest ever to examine the effects of altering carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in "real world" seawater samples directly after they are collected at sea. Polar seas are expected to be especially sensitive to the effects of ocean acidification, since more CO2 dissolves in cold water, making Arctic waters a valuable natural example of how the marine environment will respond to a high CO2 world. FIS 


caribouHerding Land Under Threat From Russian Energy Expansion. The Arctic's vast wealth has turned it into a crucial economic zone for the Kremlin determined to preserve Russia's status as an energy superpower. President Vladimir Putin has announced plans to increase the country's military presence in the region to protect its growing economic interests. But Russia's expansion is not welcome news for the world's biggest reindeer herding community, who have lived here for centuries. BBC News 


Scientists, Military Return to Arctic. Both scientists and soldiers will be heading to Russia's most northerly outposts this summer as the country reinforces both its military and scientific presence in the region. A research vessel carrying 40 scientists and support staff will put out from Arkhangelsk next month on a voyage to the country's newest national park in Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land. Meanwhile, Air Force commanders attached to the Western Military District have said they will reopen Soviet-era bases in the area. The two-week scientific expedition aboard the Professor Molchanov, including researchers from the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the World Wildlife Fund, will set out to study conditions in the Russian Arctic National Park. The Moscow Times    


UAVCanada Outlines Arctic UAV Requirement. Canada's defense minister asserts that Northrop Grumman's high-flying UAV is just one of several contenders being considered by the country for aerial surveillance of the Arctic. Northrop Grumman has submitted a proposal to Canada to provide three modified RQ-4B Global Hawks, dubbed the Polar Hawk. It says the modifications would include an Iridium satellite communications link to provide command and control north of 70 deg. Aviation Week


What's 2.8 pounds and photos Steller's sea lions? Watch Fly Scout Fly the first
scan eagle AUVvideo about Greg Walker's, University of Alaska Fairbanks, testing of practical applications for unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV's) in Alaska's Aleutian islands. Keep in mind, the Aleutians are noted for its winds-25 knots is a normal wind speed, high seas-think over 10 foot seas like in the "Deadliest Catch", and unpredictability-their vessel the Norseman waited 2 days in a cove as hurricanes blew through. The link is here 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events               


Federal Research in the Arctic; A Five-year Plan, June 12, 2012-10-11am Alaska Time. At least 13 Federal agencies conduct research in the Arctic. Research by those agencies as well as State, local, industry, and non-governmental organizations is accelerating in Alaska and other parts of the Arctic. Coordination of the Federal efforts is the responsibility of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC). The IARPC's Arctic Research Plan: FY2013-2017 focuses on research expected to benefit from interagency collaboration; considerable research conducted by single agencies is not included. The Five-Year Plan focuses on seven priority areas: sea ice and marine ecosystem studies; terrestrial ecosystem studies; atmospheric studies effecting energy flux; observing systems; regional climate models; adaptation tools for sustaining communities; and human health. This webinar will include a brief overview of the Five-Year Plan followed by comments and questions from participants. The presentation will also describe how to submit written comments on the Five-Year Plan (due by June 22, 2012). Anyone interested in Arctic research or in learning about the Five-Year Plan is invited to participate.
Click here to view the IARPC plan on the web


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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.  


The Institute of the North hosts Arctic-related events. For details, go here. Three upcoming events, all in Anchorage, AK are: (a) Commercial Applications of Northern Airships, July 31-Aug 2, Federal Research: Priorities and Processes, August 13, and Northern Energy Technology and Science Fair, August 15.


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.


98th meeting of the US Arctic Research Commission. Aug. 9-10. Fairbanks, AK. More info coming soon. 


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.   


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