Arctic Update Header
October 5, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are not in session.


Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, October 3-5, 2012. AMAP will host a working group meeting in Stockholm, Sweden.


Debate on Arctic Challenges Set for Brussels, October 4-5, 2012. The challenges facing the Arctic during a time of change and global warming uncertainty will be the subject of frank and lively debate between policymakers, Ambassadors from European Union and Arctic nations, polar scientists, and representatives industry and Arctic indigenous peoples groups, at the 2012 Arctic Futures Symposium, taking place in Brussels on October 4th and 5th. High-level speakers include Prince Albert II of Monaco, Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Belgian Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs Didier Reynders, and Charles Emmerson, Chatham House Senior Research Fellow on Energy, Environment and Resources, and author of The Future History of the Arctic.  Guest speakers will also include Sweden's Arctic Ambassador Gustav Lind, Greenland's Deputy Foreign Minister Inuuteq Holm Olsen, Robert Blaauw, Senior Advisor to Shell's Arctic programme, Bernard Funston, Chair of the Canadian Polar Commission, British Antarctic Survey glaciologist Prof. David Vaughan and Lars-Anders Baer, chair of the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region.


Friday deadline for nominees for the Arctic study committee. Please submit nominations for individuals to serve on the National Research Council's (NRC) new study on Emerging Research Questions in the Arctic by Friday, October 5. 


This study (sponsored by federal agencies including the USARC) is designed to provide guidance on future research questions in the Arctic over the next 10-20 years, identify the key scientific questions that are emerging in different realms of Arctic science and exploring both disciplinary realms (e.g., marine, terrestrial, atmosphere, cryosphere, and social sciences) and cross cutting realms (e.g., integrated systems science and sustainability science). The study will also help identify research infrastructure needs (e.g., observation networks, computing and data management, ship requirements, shore facilities, etc.) and collaboration opportunities. 

The 16-member committee will meet approximately four times, including a small community workshop and additional conference calls as necessary, to conduct the study and write a report. The committee will need expertise in a range of areas, such as Arctic marine and terrestrial systems (both ecological and physical), atmosphere, cryosphere (including sea ice, land ice, permafrost), climate/weather, resource management, and selected social sciences. We are also seeking nominations for members who bring some experience in science management, indigenous or traditional knowledge, and international collaboration. To nominate, submit the person's name, affiliation, contact information, area of expertise, and a brief statement on why the person is relevant to the study topic. Please submit your nominations to Elizabeth Finkelman ( no later than Friday, October 5, 2012. 



capitalHouse GOP Calls Halt to UC Approval of Bills During Recess. A brief thaw in the two years of partisan stalemate in the House will apparently be very brief indeed, as both sides are blaming each other for a breakdown in the practice of granting routine approval of consensus bills by unanimous consent during pro forma sessions. Republican leaders briefly revived the procedure last week, allowing three bills to speed through the chamber after consent was gained from all lawmakers. Bipartisan agreement has been a rare commodity in the House since Republicans took control in 2011, and that perception left many surprised when it was used to advance the trio of bills to protect whistleblowers, make it easier for military personnel to get commercial driver's licenses and delay disclosure requirements mandated by an insider trading law. Congressional Quarterly 


budgetStopgap Spending Measure Provides Clarity to Sequester Threat. The potential sequestration scheduled for January 2013 creates a lot of uncertainty for the government, but if that dreaded scenario occurs, then the recently enacted six-month spending measure makes some things clearer. Federal employees have wondered how the six-month continuing resolution funding the government through March would affect the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 2, 2013. One Government Executive reader asked, "I think a lot of us are confused about how the CR at 2012 levels inter-relate with sequestration impacts. Will we toodle along at 2012 funding levels for six months and then [see] draconian cuts in the second half of the year if the reductions are implemented?" Government Executive


Foreign Oil Giants to be Welcome on Russia's Arctic Shelf. In an interview with London's Financial Times Friday, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that his agency is pushing an initiative to scrap restrictions that limit foreign  companies to 33% ownership in oil and gas projects on Russia's Arctic shelf. He called these restrictions obsolete and counterproductive. Senior analyst at the National Energy Security Foundation, Dr Alexander Pasechnik, says he does not expect rapid change: "True, economic liberalization always brings progress. Today, even Russian-registered private companies are kept at bay from leading shelf projects. Similarly to their foreign counterparts, their stakes in such projects are usually limited to 33%. Unfortunately, the near future is unlikely to bring any change to these rules." Voice of Russia


canadian flagCanada Poised for Undersea Land Grab: Territory to be gained beyond Arctic, Atlantic coasts roughly the size of three Prairie provinces. Canada is poised to claim ownership of a vast new expanse of undersea territory beyond its Atlantic and Arctic coasts that's greater in size than Quebec and equal to about 20 per cent of the country's surface area, Postmedia News has learned.

The huge seabed land grab has been in the works since 1994, when federal scientists first conducted a "desktop study" of Canada's potential territorial expansion under a new UN treaty allowing nations to extend their offshore jurisdictions well past the current 200-nautical-mile limit of so-called "Exclusive Economic Zones" in coastal waters. Leader-Post


China and the Northern Rivalry. Why might China need up to 500 personnel in its embassy in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, a country of 320,000 people? That number would far outstrip any other diplomatic presence in the country, according to Damien Degeorges, a Greenland expert who spoke Thursday morning at an event in London hosted by the European Council on Foreign Relations. New York Times


Arctic MapEU Makes Pitch for Arctic Cooperation: "The time has come to work together, constructively and with determination on the future of the Arctic." The European Union has a stake in what happens in the Arctic, says Maria Damanaki, the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, who argued Oct 4 for more cooperation between the EU and Arctic states. Speaking at the annual Arctic Futures conference in Brussels, Damanaki addressed scientists, academics, business representatives, indigenous groups and policymakers, "in the heart of Europe, to discuss future scenarios for the Arctic." The EU itself is "an Arctic actor by virtue of three Arctic states, Denmark, Finland and Sweden," she said - "four, if Iceland accedes to the EU." Nunatsiaq Online


Uvic Ocean Science Group Installs First Underwater Arctic Observatory. The University of Victoria's ocean science network is dipping a toe in the Arctic Ocean, commissioning the region's first underwater scientific observatory. Scientists received the first data stream Tuesday from the sea floor observatory - a five-metre-wide frame equipped with instruments to measure temperature, pressure, oxygenation and ice thickness - installed last weekend at the hamlet of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. The observatory is a smaller version of units designed and operated by UVic-based Ocean Networks Canada. ONC operates NEPTUNE, a cable-connected 800-km deep ocean network of observatories off the west coast of Vancouver Island and VENUS, a 50-km network in the Strait of Georgia. Vancouver Sun 


Cray Inc. provides "Fish" for Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC). "As Alaska's Research University UAF (University of Alaska Fairbanks) must continue to provide the best tools, ARSC is one of the most important tools available," said Brian Rogers, Chancellor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  ARSC's new tool is a Cray supercomputer dubbed "Fish." Watch the video A Cray Supercomputer Called Fish at here.

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events                      


Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, October 9-10, 2012. CAFF will hold a meeting in Anadyr, Russia.


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.  


U.S.-Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum (2012) Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum 2012, November 13-15, 2012. The Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum is a biannual event with representation from government, industry, academia, Aboriginal groups, and northerners from both Canada and the United States. The forum provides an opportunity for United States and Canadian decision makers, regulators, Aboriginals, industry members, non-governmental organizations and scientists to discuss current scientific research and future directions for northern oil and gas activities. The focus is on technical, scientific, and engineering research that can be applied to support management and regulatory processes related to oil and gas exploration and development in the North. The North Slope Science Initiative and the U.S. Department of the Interior is hosting, in partnership with our counterparts in Canada and the United States, the third United States - Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum from November 13 to 15, 2012, at the Hilton Hotel, Anchorage, Alaska. The Forum will showcase the value of Northern scientific research in support of sound decision-making for oil and gas management. 


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.

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