Arctic Update Header
December 17, 2013


capital Today's Congressional Action: 

The House is not in session.  The Senate will consider a budget resolution, the National Defense Authorization, and several nominations. 




Begich Senator Begich Calls Arctic Drilling Opponents 'Misinformed' and 'Shortsighted.' "I'm disappointed - although not surprised - to see several Senate Democrats request that the government delay oil and gas leasing in the Arctic and order a review of existing operations," Begich said. "If they had done their homework, they would know the Department of the Interior has already conducted a thorough review of Arctic offshore oil and gas operations and regulations earlier this year, and the department is busy putting additional safeguards in place." Offshore Energy Today 


Jeh Johnson OK'd for Homeland Security. The Senate confirmed former Pentagon attorney Jeh Johnson on Monday to lead the Department of Homeland Security, rounding out President Barack Obama's second-term Cabinet. After the 78-16 vote, Johnson will take the helm at DHS, overseeing policies such as national security, immigration, disaster response and transportation. His confirmation could bring more stability to a department that has been led by a series of acting officials in recent months. Politico


Iceland's Increased Whaling to Cause Major Stir. Environmental groups are labeling Iceland's announcement that country will increase its whaling quotas in 2014 as a "provocative move". Iceland's fishing ministry said the hunting and killing of minke whales would be increased by 6 percent, from 216 in 2013 to 229 in 2014. The quota for rorquals - which includes blue, humpback and fin whales - will remain unchanged at 154. Arctic Journal


Arctic Sea Ice Volume up 50 Percent Since 2012 Record Low. The volume of sea ice in the Arctic is 50 percent greater than it was last fall, satellite measurements show. In October 2013, the European Space Agency satellite CryoSat measured 2,160 square miles (9,000 cubic kilometers) of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean, said an ESA news release Monday. At the same time of year in 2012, it measured just 1,440 square miles (6,000 cubic kilometers) -- a record low. Alaska Dispatch


Cod Continues to Move North into Arctic - Scientists. Cod shoals appear to be moving further north and well into the Arctic Ocean, new research suggests. The main driver behind this sizeable migration is warmer seas further south. Marine scientists from five countries bordering the Arctic Ocean met in Tromso, Norway recently to discuss this phenomenon and concluded that cod stocks in the Barents Sea are at record levels. Norwegian oceanographer Alf Håkon Hoel said in a recent article that some of the most important fisheries in the world take place in waters around the North Pole. Fish Update 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Jeh Johnson to be secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

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."

** NEW** Arctic Circle, September 5-7, 2014 (Reykjavik, Iceland). The inaugural gathering drew more than 1200 participants from 40 nations, bringing together a diverse group of individuals and organizations for a series of meetings and presentations addressing the challenges and opportunities of the changing Arctic. The Assembly established itself as a platform for high-level engagement on issues, such as the meeting between Russia and Greenpeace regarding the "Arctic 30" detention, and it also provided new observer states the opportunity to communicate their Arctic strategies. Details about the 2014 Assembly will be announced in the coming months.


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.

USARC header

Find us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter 

4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 510
Arlington, VA 22203, USA 
(703) 525-0111 (phone)
External links in this publication, and on the USARC's World Wide Web site ( do not constitute endorsement by the US Arctic Research Commission of external Web sites or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities, the USARC does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. These links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this newsletter and the USARC Web site.