Arctic Update Header
March 15, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will consider small business legislation.  The House is not in session.



UK Arctic Policy Review Due Amid Surge of Interest in Far North: The decision by parliamentary committee to review policies on the Arctic comes alongside commercial drive into the region. The decision by a parliamentary committee to review British government policies on the Arctic on Wednesday comes amid a surge of global economic and political interest in the far north. British-based oil companies, Shell and Cairn Energy, are at the centre of a new commercial drive into the region where melting ice caps are endangering the polar bear but making drilling more easy. The environmental audit committee makes clear the UK has a "strong environmental, political, economic and scientific interests in the region" while individual committee members, such as the Green MP Caroline Lucas, point out it is a critical area surrounding all aspects of climate change. The Guardian 


Polar bearScientists to Discuss Fate of Polar Bears. Russian animal rights activists have called for a change in the status of the polar bear. A meeting which will bring together the groups set up under the Russian-American Agreement on the protection and exploitation of the Chukotsky-Alaska polar bear opens today in Anchorage in the U.S. Maria Vorontsova, Director of the Russian branch of the International Foundation for the protection of animals is to tell her colleagues about the proposals, aimed at saving rare animals. The population of the world's polar bear is decreasing. There are now about 20-25 thousand left, out of which some   5 thousand belong to the Chukotsky-Alaska species. In the past 20 years, the number of bears on the Vrangel Island dropped from 300 to 60. The Voice of Russia


Capsizing Icebergs Pack the Punch of a Nuclear Bomb: Scaled-down lab experiments measure colossal energy releases that could wreak havoc. Tumbling icebergs can release energies on the level of atom bombs, scaled-down laboratory experiments with plastic bergs suggest. Although huge, hulking icebergs might appear relatively stable in the water, these mountains of ice can occasionally flip and roll. When large icebergs capsize, they can release a colossal amount of energy, comparable to a magnitude-5 earthquake, which can wreak havoc on their environs - a tsunami from an iceberg that calved off a glacier devastated a coastal Greenland community in 1995. The concerns about the impacts of icebergs capsizing are heightened by global warming, which is hitting the planet's polar regions particularly hard. MSNBC


Dr. Kenneth Lee is the Canadian Spill Stopper. A world-renowned authority on the use of chemical dispersants in the clean-up of oil spills discusses such efforts in the Arctic. From the "Marine Technology Reporter" ( To make it easy on our readers, we've extracted the article and posted it as a pdf here



Rising Sea Levels Seen as Threat to Coastal US. About 3.7 million Americans live within a few feet of high tide and risk being hit by more frequent coastal flooding in coming decades because of the sea level rise caused by global warming, according to new research. If the pace of the rise accelerates as much as expected, researchers found, coastal flooding at levels that were once exceedingly rare could become an every-few-years occurrence by the middle of this century. By far the most vulnerable state is Florida, the new analysis found, with roughly half of the nation's at-risk population living near the coast on the porous, low-lying limestone shelf that constitutes much of that state. But Louisiana, California, New York and New Jersey are also particularly vulnerable, researchers found, and virtually the entire American coastline is at some degree of risk. New York Times 


icebreakersTory Arctic Ship Plan Should be Sunk. At least $1.4 billion is expected to be carved out of spending at National Defence in the coming fiscal year, but a longtime critic says some politically-motivated programs should not survive Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget axe. The coming March 29 budget is expected to see $19.8 billion set aside for the military, a seven per cent decrease compared with last year's defence spending plan, according to preliminary federal estimates. And those forecasts do not reflect the five or 10 per cent reductions the Conservatives have asked all federal departments to deliver. Winnipeg Free Press  


Scientists Raise Greenland Climate Threat. Scientists have slashed their  

forecasts for Greenland's resilience to global warming. Its ice sheet could enter an irreversible spiral of melting at just 1.6 degrees of warming. A new computer simulation by scientists at Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Universidad Computense de Madrid has calculated that Greenland's ice is likely to be more vulnerable to global warming than previously assumed. The study, published in Nature Climate Change, said warming of 1.6 degrees Celsius is likely to be enough to tip Greenland into an irreversible spiral of melting. Deutsche Welle 


Arctic MapArctic Becoming Popular with International Politicians. A group of islands in the Norwegian Arctic called Svalbard is becoming a surprisingly popular destination for international politicians. The European Union's High Representative, Baroness Ashton, is the latest to visit the northernmost inhabited place on earth. She has been flagging her interest in the opportunities offered by the region - from climate change research to energy exploration. BBC News


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday. 

Future Events                                   



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  


usarc logo large

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. 


Arctic Forum 2012, April 30-May 1, 2012. The Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. will host the forum in conjunction with their 24th annual meeting. Both events will be in Washington, D.C. The Arctic Forum is part of the American Geophysical Union's Science Policy Conference, which will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The Conference will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions. Within the Science Policy Conference, the Arctic Forum will assess gaps and priority needs for arctic scientific information to inform decision makers in policy

formation for three key themes:

                - Governance and Security in the Arctic;

                - Transportation and Energy Development; and

                - Changing Arctic Ecosystems.

The Forum will examine the current state of policymaker and public understanding of the issues. An important goal will be to foster an increased capacity for dialogue and action on arctic science-policy issues.


American Polar Society 75th Anniversary Meeting and Symposium, "The Polar 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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