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December 16, 2013


capital Today's Congressional Action: 

The House is not in session.  The Senate will consider a budget resolution, the National Defense Authorization, and the nomination of Jeh Johnson to be the Secretary for Homeland Security. 




harry reid Packed Senate Schedule to Test Bipartisan Relations in Final Week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wants to pass the budget deal and the Defense authorization bill, and confirm a new secretary of Homeland Security ... all by Friday. A Senate Democratic leadership aide said last week that Reid also wants to move another batch of nominees, including Janet Yellen, who would become the first woman to head the Federal Reserve. The Hill


Sea Ice: Fuel of the Future? Buried beneath the world's oceans and the Arctic permafrost lies a global energy source that many think might dwarf today's fracking revolution: huge reservoirs of natural gas trapped in ice crystals. They're called methane hydrates and are sometimes known as "flammable ice." If tapping methane hydrates ever becomes feasible, it once again would change the geopolitical map of the planet. Nations like Japan and India that lack their own conventional oil and gas resources suddenly could become energy power players. Anchorage Daily News 


Flying Uranium From Nunavut Scares Saskatchewan Dene. A proposed uranium mine in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut is causing concern in the prairie province of Saskatchewan. The Athabasca Denesuline don't want the uranium moving through -- or over -- their traditional territory. At issue is Areva Resources' Kiggavik project near the Nunavut community of Baker Lake. Alaska Dispatch


Arctic Commission Readies Report for Legislature. How does the state of Alaska design policy that will both encourage opportunity and protect that which already exists in the ever-changing and expanding Arctic? That was the none-too-small question on the table for a group of Alaska lawmakers, industry leaders and stakeholders over the last year. The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission was tasked with leading the Alaska Legislature forward with its Arctic policy and is now finishing up a preliminary report, which is due to lawmakers by the end of January. But wrapping all the elements of the Arctic -- including a vast number of unknowns -- is none too easy, as the 26 commissioners were finding when they met this week in Anchorage to work in their final edits and revisions to a draft document. Alaska Dispatch


Ocean Mapping by UNB Group Leads to New Arctic Ship Route. Ocean mapping efforts in Canada's Arctic have uncovered a new passage for increasing shipping traffic to Iqaluit. The isolated region receives most of its supplies through shipping so the discovery of the new shipping highway, due in part to New Brunswick-based researchers, is significant. "It's a much better approach to Iqaluit," says Weston Renoud, a masters student in hydrography at the University of New Brunswick. "It's a deeper and wider approach. This is great for shipping.  CBC News


Warming Arctic Attracting New Plants and Animals: Report. The impacts of a warming climate in the Arctic are changing the ranges of plants and animals in the sea and on the land, according to this year's report on the Arctic by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Released this month, the report sums up the work of an international team of 147 scientists from 14 countries.

Nunatsiaq Online


Arctic Ownership Race About More Than Santa and Science. Canadian politicians can claim Santa Claus as a Canadian citizen if they want, but they'd be best to make him wait in line like all the other law-abiding immigrants. On the other side of the Arctic Ocean, there is a dour, steely-eyed Russian by the name of Vladimir Putin who doesn't care whether Paul Calandra, the prime minister's parliamentary secretary, and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau want to claim old St. Nick as our own or not. The Russian president just wants to make sure that Canadians and the rest of the world know his country has planted a flag on the North Pole and he's daring us to come and pull it down. CBC News


Russian Submarines Outfitted to Break Thick Arctic Ice. By 2016, Russian submarines will have the ability to cut through thick, Arctic ice without damaging the ship's housing during rapid surfacing, thanks to a new design that puts advanced technology on the boats. The new technology for the submarines will allow subs to quickly surface for Arctic missions or to rescue the crew in case of an accident, according to the Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering in charge of the new submarine design. Russia Beyond the Headlines


Regulators Seek Details on Shell Arctic Drill Plan. A federal agency is asking Royal Dutch Shell PLC for more details about possible plans to drill in the Chukchi Sea next year. The application to drill will not be complete until the oil giant provides additional information in its 2014 Chukchi Exploration Plan, Alaska Public Radio Network reported. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management wants questions answered on Shell ships, the Noble Discoverer and the Polar Pioneer, said David Johnston, regional supervisor for the Office of Leasing and Plans. The agency also has air quality questions. Juneau Empire


Finland Backs Plans for Data Cable Along Northern Sea Route. The cable linking Asia and Europe would transform Finland into an important data hub. Finland has voiced its support for a Russian plan to build a 14,900 kilometers long undersea data cable along the Northern Sea Route, linking Asia and Europe. As conceived by Finland, the trans-Arctic cable would join the Finnish fiber optic cable network through Murmansk and continue to Central Europe along the bed of the Baltic Sea. Helsinki Times

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered Friday.

Future Events


Arctic Frontiers, January 19-24, 2014 (Tromso, Norway). Arctic Frontiers is an international arena addressing development in the Arctic. The conference discusses how upcoming opportunities and challenges may be handled to ensure viable economic growth and societal and environmental sustainability. Annually, the conference attracts more than 1000 participants from 25 Arctic and non-arctic countries, representing science, business, politics, and civil society. The theme of the conference is 'Humans in the Arctic'. As with previous years the policy section will run for the first two days, followed by three days of science. The science section will have four parts under 2 main headings: Health, Society and Environment; and, Maritime Operational Challenges. 


Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 20-24, 2014 (Anchorage, Alaska). The mission of the Alaska Marine Science Symposium is to bring together scientists, policymakers, students, educators, media and the public to share research findings focused on Alaska's marine fisheries and ecosystems. The Symposium is built around regional themes-Bering Sea, Arctic Ocean, and the Gulf of Alaska. Within each theme, there will be discussions on climate, oceanography, lower tropic levels, the benthos, fishes and invertebrates, seabirds, marine mammals, local and traditional knowledge, and socioeconomic research.


The agenda is available here.


The goal of the Arctic Encounter Symposium is to engage participants in a focused discussion, through a balanced forum, highlighting shared interests and concerns of the United States and the global community as we look north to the last emerging frontier - the Arctic. The Symposium will incorporate a diverse group of leaders and experts to debate how a rapidly changing Arctic will impact international law, domestic policy, business and commerce, the environment, and the people of the Far North. Speakers include policy makers, industry leaders, scientists, and academic experts. The two-day Symposium will take place at Seattle University School of Law with a dinner reception at the Seattle Aquarium on Pier 59. US Arctic Research commissioner Edward Itta is one of the speakers.


Arctic 2050, March 12, 2014 (Brussels, Belgium). The 4th European Marine Board Forum will bring together Arctic stakeholders from multiple sectors (science, industry, policy & governance, NGOs, etc.) to: discuss current trends and patterns of change in Arctic Ocean ecosystems, including human activity; identify possible "2050" scenarios for Arctic Change and the corresponding implications for human health and well-being; highlight key research gaps, needs and challenges in support of understanding, mitigating against, or adapting to Arctic change; stimulate dialogue across sectors to aid common understanding, collaborative actions and sustainability targets; promote a vision for a sustainable ecosystem-based management of the Arctic Ocean by 2050.


44th Annual International Arctic Workshop, March 14-16, 2014 (Boulder, CO). The Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research of the University of Colorado will host the workshop. This year's theme is "Arctic's New Normal." The workshop will consider shifting environmental baselines over decades to millennia and comparisons with the Antarctic. Previous Workshops have included presentations on Arctic and Antarctic climate, atmospheric chemistry, environmental geochemistry, paleoenvironment, archeology, geomorphology, hydrology, glaciology, soils, ecology, oceanography, Quaternary history and more.


Association of American Geographers Polar Geography Sessions, April 8-12, 2014 (Tampa, Florida).  Polar Geography Sessions are being planned in areas such as Sustainable Development in the Arctic, Urbanization and Transportation in the Arctic, etc. Contact Scott Stephenson ( for more information, and see attached flyer. 


Arctic Science Summit Week April 5-8, 2014 and Arctic Observing Summit, April 9-11 (Helsinki, Finland). ASSW is a gathering for Arctic research organizations. Any organization engaged in supporting and facilitating arctic research is welcome to participate. The ASSW meeting in 2014 will be arranged during April 5-8 in Helsinki Kumpula Campus, in the facilities of FMI and Physics Department of the University of Helsinki. Second circular here


International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences, May 22-26, 2014 (Prince George, British Columbia). "The International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) announces the 8th International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS VIII).ICASS is held every three years, bringing together people from all over the world to share ideas about social science research in the Arctic. ICASS VII, held in Akureyri in June 2011, attracted 450 participants from 30 different countries.  ICASS VIII's theme is Northern Sustainabilities. By using the plural, we underscore both that "sustainability" has social, cultural, economic, political and environmental dimensions, and that definitions of the concept vary."
IceTech14: International Conference and Exhibition on Performance of Ships and Structures in Ice, July 28-31, 2014 (Banff, Alberta, Canada). "The focus will be on the general theme of performance of ships and structures in ice - but with emphasis and special sessions on looking to the future in a warming world. Coverage will include technical aspects of offshore operations in Arctic and ice populated waters, as well related ice mechanics, icebreaking and ice resistance, global warming and geopolitical effects, safety and EER, subsea facilities and operations, and other relevant subjects in a polar context particularly in view of current global concerns. Both technical papers and selected panel sessions will be included. We will also continue to host a small commercial exhibition for organizations wishing to set up stand."
Abstract Submission Deadline: November 17,  2013

Arctic Science Summit Week, April 23-30, 2015 (Toyama, Japan). ASSW is the annual gathering of international organizations engaged in supporting and facilitating Arctic research. The purpose of the summit is to provide opportunities for coordination, collaboration and cooperation in all areas of Arctic science. IASC's (International Arctic Science Committee) 25th anniversary will be celebrated during ASSW2015. The summit presents an opportunity to review IASC contributions and recognize those who have been instrumental in its founding, development and growth. ASSW2015 will also include the 3rd International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP III) and the 4th International Symposium on the Arctic Research (ISAR-4). These four-day symposia create a platform for exchanging knowledge, inspiring cross fertilization, and promoting collaboration. The summit attracts scientists, students, policy makers and other professionals from all over the world.

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