Arctic Update Header
March 23, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate will not be in session.


polar bear iceWarming Causing Polar Bear-Human Conflicts, Alberta Professor Says. Western Montanans have long known the challenges of dealing with bears that rummage through trash and wreak havoc on chicken coops. But lately, our neighbors to the distant north have been dealing with a growing bear problem - and their bruins aren't your garden-variety Montana black bear. They are polar bears, the largest land-based carnivores in the world. Triple the size of most adult black bears and dependent on an all-meat diet, polar bears are increasingly running into trouble with humans in their Arctic environs. Ironically, the increasing incidence of conflicts between people and polar bears comes as the overall population of the species is shrinking. And both facts ultimately trace to the same cause, says Ian Stirling, author of "Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species" and an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. The Missoulian 


Bird Count Finds Unusual Number of Snowy Owls Migrating from Arctic. The Great Backyard Bird Count, an annual tally of avian trends across North America, has turned up some unusual migrations this winter. In particular, observers in Canada saw four times the number of snowy owls moving south from the Arctic than last year. This is because lemmings, which snowy owls hunt, were very scarce, forcing the birds to fly south in search of food. Calgary Herald 


Oil Whale ExxonArctic Council Group Works on Spill Response Plan. Representatives of the eight nations in the Arctic Council gathered Thursday for continued discussions on a petroleum spill preparation and response plan in northern waters and a spokesman for the meeting host said it couldn't come too soon. Shipping in the Arctic Ocean is growing faster than anticipated, said Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, and last summer the Bering Strait saw eight cargos of gas condensate from northern Russia moving to markets in Asia. Treadwell said the State is quite confident in the spill preparations Shell Oil has made for proposed exploratory petroleum drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas this summer off Alaska's northern costs, but is not as confident about shipping by itinerant vessels. WAUSAU Daily Herald 


Planned Arctic Naval Base Cut Back Sharply. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's much-ballyhooed plan to build a naval facility at Nanisivik, Nunavut shrank dramatically last month, when Department of National Defence officials told regulators about big cutbacks to the project. "The planned changes result in a significant reduction of the site layout and function plan that was submitted for review in 2011," DND's project manager, Rodney Watson, said in a Feb. 24 letter to the Nunavut Impact Review Board, which is now screening the project. Under DND's new scheme, the Nanisivik naval facility on Baffin Island would become a part-time summer-only fueling station for Ottawa's proposed fleet of Arctic offshore patrol ships, along with other federal government vessels. Calgary Herald 


Oil Drilling in AlaskaOffshore Drilling Review Discussed [Canada]. Who decides what is the worst-case scenario when it comes to drilling offshore in the Arctic - the people or industry? It was one of many questions posed to the National Energy Board (NEB) during its information session in Inuvik last Wednesday at Ingamo Hall. Three months have passed since the board published its review of the safety and environmental requirements for offshore drilling in the Canadian Arctic - spurred by the world watching in horror as millions of barrels of oil spilled from BP's Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago for about three months. It was one of the largest oil spills in history. Inuvik resident Billy Turner said the board has reaffirmed the same-season relief well policy - where an applicant must demonstrate the capability to drill a relief well to kill an out-of-control well during the same drilling season - is based on the capacity of industry and a "little too long, given the fragile aspects of the environment of the Arctic." Northern News Service 


canadian flagCanada's North Finally Opens Up. Recently, the CBC released a DVD set featuring all its televised work of Glenn Gould. One of the interesting non-musical items was his hour-long film called The Idea of North, a reminder of the recurring if intermittent Canadian infatuation with our Northern frontier. We seem to be in one of those moods these days, with annual photo-ops of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the Arctic and an array of investments to increase our presence in the North. Will this latest spike of interest in the North fare better than past episodes? History is littered with the wreckage of past plans to develop Canada's North. Diefenbaker's 1958 election platform envisioning a "Canada of the North" never amounted to much, and he was soon tossed out of office. Charles Hays ran a rail line to the northern tip of B.C.'s coast in 1905, earning Prince Rupert its derisive nickname of "Hays' Orphan" for most of the 20th century (Hays did not have to endure these taunts, having gone down with the Titanic in 1912). The Mackenzie Valley pipeline has been stuck in the planning stages for decades. Financial Post 


Arctic Beluga Whales and Narwhals Had a Close Relative in Pliocene Waters. Beluga whales and narwhals live solely in the cold waters of the Arctic and sub-arctic. Smithsonian scientists, however, found that this may not have always been the case. They recently described a new species of toothed whale and close relative to today's belugas and narwhals that lived some 3-4 million years ago during the Pliocene in warm water regions. Why and when its modern-day relatives evolved to live only in northern latitudes remains a mystery. The team's research was recently described in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Bits of Science 


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  


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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. 


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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