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November 28, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will consider a motion to proceed on the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill. The House will consider a number of legislative items under suspension of the rules.





USARC APPOINTMENTS: President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts. Yesterday, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts, including Edward S. Itta and James J. McCarthy to be members of the US Arctic Research Commission.


Itta Edward S. Itta, Appointee for Member, Arctic Research Commission
Edward S. Itta served as the Mayor of the North Slope Borough of Alaska from 2005 to 2011.  Before serving as mayor, Mr. Itta held a variety of project management and development positions for Arctic Slope World Services and the Arctic Slope Consulting Group from 1998 to 2004, where he was involved in the engineering and coordination of the North Slope Village water and sewer construction program.  Previously, from 1995 to 1998, Mr. Itta served as President of LCMF, Inc., a design and engineering subsidiary of the Barrow Village Corporation.  From 1977 to 1995, Mr. Itta worked for the North Slope Borough, ultimately serving in a number of leadership positions including Chief Administrative Officer, Public Works Director, Planning Director, and Director of Capital Improvement Program Management.  Mr. Itta is currently a member of the Barrow Whaling Captains Association, where he served as President from 1989 to 1990.  He previously served as President of Inuit Circumpolar Council - Alaska, Vice Chairman of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, and has served on the Board of Directors of Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation, the village corporation of Barrow, Alaska.  Mr. Itta was trained as an electronics technician at the Griswold Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, and served in the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1969.


McCarthy, James Dr. James J. McCarthy, Appointee for Member, Arctic Research Commission
Dr. James J. McCarthy is the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography at Harvard University, having served on the faculty since 1974. From 1982 to 2002, he served as the Director of Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology. For the past two decades, Dr. McCarthy has worked as an author, a reviewer, and a co-chair with the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He was the founding editor of Global Biogeochemical Cycles and the first Chair of the International Geosphere - Biosphere governing committee. Dr. McCarthy is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and served as President of AAAS from 2008 to 2009. In addition, he was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Dr. McCarthy received a B.S. in Biology from Gonzaga University and a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The White House. Welcome aboard, Mr. Itta and Dr. McCarthy!


Press release by US Arctic Research Commission

Press release by Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Press release by Senator Mark Begich.


'Fiscal Cliff' Talks Could Collide With Christmas. For the fourth consecutive year, a major Washington negotiation is on a collision course with Christmas. President Obama and congressional leaders spoke optimistically after a meeting 10 days ago about avoiding a last-minute fiscal-cliff scramble, tasking staff with coming up with some solutions by this week. But sources close to the negotiations say those talks haven't gone anywhere on any of the most salient issues. The Hill


EPA Suspends BP From Government Contracts. Just hours before a new sale of Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leases, the EPA suspended BP from entering any new contracts with the federal government, citing the company's lack of "integrity" in connection with the 2010 oil spill. The action will prevent BP from being awarded any new offshore parcels on which it bids until the suspension is lifted. Congressional Quarterly


Senator: 'Gang of Six' won't release deficit-reduction plan. A high-profile bipartisan group of U.S. senators will not release its deficit-reduction plan as the White House and congressional leaders try to avoid fiscal chaos and deep Pentagon spending cuts. Asked Nov. 27 by Defense News whether the "Gang of Six" plans to make public the fruits of its labor, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., replied "no" before entering an elevator in the Capitol. Federal Times


Smith Wins Science Committee Chairmanship. After a three-way contest, Texas Republican Lamar Smith will chair the House Science, Space and Technology Committee in the 113th Congress. The House Republican Steering Committee selected Smith during a closed-door session on Tuesday, according to a GOP leadership aide. Smith, who is giving up his chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee because of term limits, is the No. 3 Republican on the Science panel. Congressional Quarterly


Parnell Proposes King Salmon Research. Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell says he will propose $30 million over five years to study king salmon abundance. Parnell says the first installment will be $10 million in the fiscal year 2014 budget. Low chinook salmon returns this year resulted in fishing closures or limits. State commerce officials estimate commercial fishermen lost $16.8 million in direct revenue. Subsistence fishermen and the sport fishing industry also saw losses. Anchorage Daily News


NOAA Fisheries Begins ESA Status Review on Puget Sound Killer Whales. NOAA Fisheries will begin a review of the status of a population of killer whales that is currently listed under the Endangered Species Act. This review is prompted by a petition from the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation to remove existing protection for these whales. NOAA said the petition presents new information from scientific journal articles about killer whale genetics, addressing issues such as how closely related this small population is to other populations, and meets the agency's standard for accepting a petition to review. NOAA


Discovery of Feedback Between Sea Ice and Ocean Improves Arctic Ice Extent Forecast. The Arctic ice cover reaches its peak each year in mid-March, before shrinking with warmer spring temperatures. But over the last three decades, this winter ice cap has shrunk: Its annual maximum reached record lows, according to satellite observations, in 2007 and again in 2011. Understanding the processes that drive sea-ice formation and advancement can help scientists predict the future extent of Arctic ice coverage-an essential factor in detecting climate fluctuations and change. But existing models vary in their predictions for how sea ice will evolve. Phys.Org


Gas Tanker Ob River Attempts First Winter Arctic Crossing. The carrier, Ob River, left Norway in November and has sailed north of Russia on its way to Japan. The specially equipped tanker is due to arrive in early December and will shave 20 days off the journey. The owners say that changing climate conditions and a volatile gas market make the Arctic transit profitable. BBC News


NOAA, University of New Hampshire Fund Projects to Investigate Effects of Chemical Dispersants in Oil Spills. NOAA and the Coastal Response Research Center (CRRC) at the University of New Hampshire today announced research funding for three projects aimed at better understanding the impact of dispersed oil and chemical dispersants used during oil spills. NOAA is awarding these grants using supplemental research funding provided by Congress as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The grants, collectively totaling nearly $500,000, were awarded on a competitive basis through a peer-review process that attracted 36 proposals from U.S. and international research teams. NOAA


Ocean Acidification Takes Toll on Northwest Shellfish. Governor Chris Gregoire has just released a long awaited report on ocean acidification. At a public ceremony Tuesday she announced 3.3 million in funding for the execution of some of the report's recommendations. Some of the money will also go towards the creation of a new center at the University of Washington to study ocean acidification. John Lentz has been farming shellfish in Puget Sound for 25 years. Northwest Public Radio


Greenland Shark Bycatch in Canada's Arctic Concerns Researcher. There are concerns that bycatch of Greenland sharks by the turbot fishing industry in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, could affect the future of the species, of which little is known. A fisherman from the Atlantic Canadian province of Newfoundland was charged Aug. 8 by an officer of Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for allegedly cutting the fins off the sharks to get them out of his hooks. It's common for boats in Nunavut to catch Greenland sharks by accident. Fishermen who accidentally catch the sharks are supposed to return them alive whenever possible. Alaska Dispatch


Scientists Urge Arctic Nations to Assess Effects of Thawing Permafrost. The effects of thawing permafrost on global climate change is not being taken into account by government agencies seeking to create treaties on carbon dioxide and methane emission, according to a new report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Permafrost -- ground that is permanently frozen -- makes up about a quarter of the land surface in the Northern Hemisphere and a giant swath of Alaska. As permafrost thaws, carbon dioxide and methane are released into the atmosphere. UNEP's report urges the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to assess the impact of thawing permafrost in the Arctic. Alaska Dispatch

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events                      


Governance and Sustainable Development in a Changing Arctic, November 29, 2012. "Governance and Sustainable Development in the Changing Arctic" is a special seminar hosted by the European Institute. The event will be at the Cosmos Club, Washington, DC. Contact Natalie Fahey, 202-895-1670 for details.


Arctic Technology Conference, December 3-5, 2012. The burgeoning Arctic arena offers a host of opportunities for companies that can solve the complex environmental, physical and regulatory challenges it presents. ATC 2012 will include a highly specialized technical program, education courses, networking events, and an exhibition - all deisgned to help ensure that oil and gas professionals throughout the world are prepared to succeed in these challenging Arctic arenas.


Arctic Transportation Infrastructure: Response Capacity and Sustainable Development in the Arctic, December 3-6, 2012. The Arctic Council's Sustainable Development Working Group approved a project during the Swedish Chairmanship (co-led by the United States and Iceland) to assess transportation infrastructure. The Arctic Marine and Aviation Transportation Infrastructure Initiative (AMATII) seeks to evaluate Northern infrastructure -ports, airports, and response capability - by inventorying maritime and aviation assets in the Arctic. As part of this project, the Institute of the North is hosting an Arctic transportation infrastructure conference 3-6 December at the Icelandair Hotel Natura in Reykjavik, Iceland. The conference theme is "Response Capacity and Sustainable Development in the Arctic." Participants will include policy makers and government officials; aviation and marine subject matter experts from the private, public, independent and academic sectors; as well as community leaders and Permanent Participants.


AGU Fall Meeting, December 3-7, 2012. The American Geophysical Union hosts in fall meeting in San Francisco. Roughly 20,000 scientists will be in attendance. On December 3rd, there will be a town hall meeting entitled "Scientific Drilling in the Polar Regions."The U.S. Ice Drilling Program Office (IDPO) is organizing a Town Hall meeting at the Fall AGU Meeting entitled "TH15G Scientific Drilling in the Polar Regions". Ice sheets and ocean sediments hold important climate evidence from the past. International collaboration for drilling in the polar regions requires coordination between science, technology, and logistics.  The research community is invited to hear updates on recent planning by the IDPO/IDDO, IPICS, ANDRILL, IODP, SCAR-ACE, and WAIS initiatives. Opportunities for community involvement in interdisciplinary planning will be highlighted and input solicited. 


Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 21-25, 2013. Since 2002, scientists from Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond have come to the Symposium to communicate research activities in the marine regions off Alaska. Researchers and students in marine science re-connect with old colleagues and meet new ones. Plenary and poster sessions feature a broad spectrum of ocean science. Hear the latest in the fields of climate, oceanography, lower trophic levels, the benthos, fishes and invertebrates, seabirds, marine mammals, local and traditional knowledge, and socioeconomic research. The Symposium also features compelling keynote speakers, workshops and special sessions.


Alaska Forum on the Environment, February 4-8, 2013. Hosted by The Alaska Forum, Inc. the 2013 Alaska Forum on the Environment will follow up on previous forums by offering training and information, includes plenary sessions, on: climate change, emergency response, environmental regulations, fish and wildlife populations, rural issues, energy, military issues, business issues, solid waste, contaminants, contaminated site cleanup, mining and others.  For 2013, the forum will expand forum content to provide information to help better understand issues surrounding coastal communities. This will include tsunami impacts, marine debris, and coastal erosion.


Wakefield28th Wakefield Symposium: 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. Call for abstracts, due November 30, 2012. 


Arctic Observing Summit 2013, April 30- May 2, 2013. The Arctic Observing Summit is led by the International Study of Arctic Change (ISAC). It is a Sustaining Arctic Observing Network (SAON) task and part of the broader SAON implementation process, which is led by the Arctic Council jointly with the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the World Meteorological Association (WMO). AOS is a high-level, biennial summit that aims to provide community-driven, science-based guidance for the design, implementation, coordination and sustained long term (decades) operation of an international network of arctic observing systems. The AOS will provide a platform to address urgent and broadly recognized needs of arctic observing across all components of the arctic system, including the human component. It will foster international communication and coordination of long-term observations aimed at improving understanding and responding to system-scale arctic change. The AOS will be an international forum for optimizing resource allocation through coordination and exchange among researchers, funding agencies, and others involved or interested in long term observing activities, while minimizing duplication and gaps.


International Conference on Arctic Ocean Acidification, May 6-8, 2013.

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, and the University of British Columbia, Canada, host a conference to consider Arctic Ocean acidification. Topics will include

response of Arctic Ocean to increasing CO2 and related changes in the global carbon cycle, social and policy challenges, Arctic Ocean acidification and ecological and biogeochemical coupling, implications of changing Arctic Ocean acidification for northern (commercial and subsistence) fisheries, and future developments.

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