Arctic Update Header
July 23, 2013

Both the House of Representatives (Defense) and the Senate (Transportation and Housing and Urban Development) will work through appropriations bills. For more information, visit the short summary at The Hill.


navy US Navy, Coast Guard Prep for Ice-Free Arctic. "The question of the Arctic Ocean becoming seasonally ice-free as a result of climate change is no longer one of 'if' but 'when.' And while environmentalists and scientists may bemoan the consequences for polar bears, ringed seals or weather patterns, many Coast Guard Seal governments see opportunity. One opportunity is shortened transit times for cargo vessels, particularly from Atlantic to Pacific (and vice versa) via the Northern Sea Route across the top of Russia, and to a lesser extent via the fabled Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic archipelago. A recent study concluded that the Northern Sea Route could become completely navigable for part of the year by mid-century at latest." Discovery 

(more media resulting from the NIC/USARC symposium last week) 


Top prize for Arctic researcher. "One of the world's top Arctic researchers, Queen's University professor John Smol, has been awarded the $50,000 Weston Family Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Northern Research by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation. Dr. Smol's collaborative work has been instrumental in helping the world understand global climate issues and the effects of contaminants on the Arctic environment. Dr. Smol is a leading international authority in the field of Arctic limnology and paleolimnology, the field of study that looks below the surface of lakes and rivers to uncover the secrets of the Arctic's environmental history." 


Alaska's boreal forests burning more with climate change. "The largest U.S. wildfires in the last decade of record-breaking blazes have been in the wilds of Alaska, where fires have blackened more than a half-million acres at a time. A new study predicts more of the same for North America's boreal forests, the Far North belt of spruce and fir trees that extends from interior Alaska across Canada. A warming climate could promote so much wildfire in the boreal zone that the forests may convert to deciduous woodlands of aspen and birch, researchers said." LA Times 


Alaska Looks for Answers in Glacier's Summer Flood Surges. "The idea that glaciers change at a glacial speed is increasingly false. They are melting and retreating rapidly all over the world. But the unpredictable flood surges at the Mendenhall Glacier, about 14 miles from downtown Juneau, Alaska's capital, are turning a jog into a sprint as global temperatures and climate variability increase. tarting in July 2011, and each year since, sudden torrents of water shooting out from beneath the glacier have become a new facet of Juneau's brief, shimmering high summer season. In that first, and so far biggest, measured flood burst, an estimated 10 billion gallons gushed out in three days, threatening homes and property along the Mendenhall River that winds through part of the city. There have been at least two smaller bursts this year." NY Times 


Forum: How Daring is Obama's New Climate Plan? "Stymied by Congress, and no longer weighed down by concerns about re-election, President Barack Obama decided last month to take assertive action on climate change, unveiling a host of administrative actions to regulate carbon emissions, encourage the development of renewable energy, promote energy efficiency, and prepare the country to adapt to a warmer world. To judge how effective the president's climate plan might be, Yale Environment 360 asked a panel of policy makers, environmentalists, and scientists to answer the following questions: Do you think President Obama's recently announced climate change plan will make a major contribution to reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and, in particular, do you think he will succeed in regulating CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants by the end of his term?" Yale Environment 360 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


"The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee - Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard will hold a hearing at 10:00 a.m. titled, 'New England and Mid-Atlantic Perspectives on Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorization.' The hearing will explore the progress made to date and the ongoing challenges faced in transitioning to sustainable fisheries management in New England and the Mid-Atlantic since the 2006 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). Testimony from managers, fishermen, academics, and other stakeholders is expected to explore the impacts the MSA amendments have had on U.S. fisheries in these regions, as well as recommend potential changes to the Act for Congress to consider." 


The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing to consider S. 1273, the FAIR Act of 2013 (Murkowski) at 2:30 p.m. in Room 366 of the Dirksen Senate Office BuildingS.1273 would "establish a partnership between States that produce energy onshore and offshore for our country with the Federal Government." Press Release

Future Events


Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion on "The Benefits and 'Costs of Cold:' Arctic Economics in the 21st Century" featuring Alaskan 

Lieutenant Gov. Mead Treadwell, Wednesday July 31, 2013, 3 p.m. (CSIS, Washington, D.C.). 

Alaska's Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell will discuss the future of economic development in the 


American Arctic at this upcoming event.


"A new CSIS Europe Program report, which will be released on July 31, examines the economic benefits of Arctic development and the financial and environmental costs of Arctic infrastructure development. It determines that for now, the U.S. gives greater weight to the costs of Arctic development than to its benefits. Lieutenant Governor Treadwell will offer his reflections on this new report."


Please RSVP to Matthew Melino at

"Presentations, roundtable discussions and workshops are held as part of the Week of the Arctic, varied in form to reach different audiences and achieve multiple goals. The Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award dinner is the signature event for the Week of the Arctic. In recent years, the Award has been given to Red Dog Mine (2012) and Jacob Adams (2011). The award was created in 2000 to recognize individuals and organizations that make outstanding contributions toward sustainable development in the Arctic. Join us as we present CH2M Hill this year's Award. The Week of the Arctic culminates on Sunday, August 18 with a champagne toast in celebration of the Governor Walter J. Hickel Day of the Arctic."

101st Meeting of the US Arctic Research Commission, August 26-27, 2013 logo with background (Dutch Harbor/Unalaska, Alaska). The 101st meeting of the US Arctic Research  Commission will be held in Dutch Harbor/Unalaska. The meeting agenda will be posted on the USARC website,, closer to the meeting date. 


Alaska Arctic Policy Commission Meeting, August 28-29, 2013 (Unalaska, Alaska). The 3rd meeting of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission will, among other things, continue its mission to positively influence federal Arctic policy. "Toward that end, the Commission will compile a list of all the current federal programs that directly affect Arctic Alaska and Arctic policy, and track and thoroughly investigate each program. These findings will inform the Commission's Final Report."


7th International Workshop on Ice-Drilling Technology, September 9-13, 2013 (Madison, WI). "The event is sponsored by the Ice Drilling Program Office- Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDPO-IDDO), International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS), International Glaciological Society (IGS). Following in the footsteps of the six previous ice drilling technology workshops held between 1974 and 2006, the Seventh International workshop on Ice Drilling Technology will take a comprehensive look a the latest innovations in ice drilling technology, including ice coring, borehole logging, subglacial sampling, core logging and handling, and field logistics."


Arctic Exchange, September 16-17, 2013 (Stockholm). "The Exchange brings an evolutionary concept in networking and business information delivery. The concept is designed to meet specific business objectives during two days for promoting cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic communities addressing key issues such as sustainable business development and regional protection. As more and more data has confirmed that the Arctic is extremely rich in oil and gas reserves, locations such as Greenland and the Barents Sea have seen a huge growth in interest from the hydrocarbon industry. Despite the opportunities offered, there are many challenges that may hinder operations. The presence of cold temperatures, ice and a lack of infrastructure pose logistical problems that make exploration expensive and risky."


The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit, October 8-10, 2013 (Akureyri, Iceland).

 "The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit is a multidisciplinary event expected to draw together several hundred industry officials, scientists, academics, policymakers, energy professionals and community leaders to collaborate and share leading approaches on Arctic energy issues. Building on the work done at the highly successful 2007 Arctic Energy Summit and Technology Conference, the 2013 Summit will address energy extraction, production and transmission in the Arctic as it relates to three thematic areas: richness, resilience and responsibility.  The 2013 Summit will be hosted by the Institute of the North in cooperation with local host Arctic Portal." 


The Inaugural Meeting of The Arctic Circle, October 12-14, 2013 (Reykjavik, Iceland). "The inaugural Arctic Circle will be held October 12-14, 2013. Subsequent Arctic Circle gatherings will be held in a different Arctic location each year, so that participants can become familiar with the challenges, needs and opportunities presented by these unique environments. The agenda for the first Arctic Circle gathering will include plenary sessions with international leaders on emerging topics of interest, such as: Sea ice melt and extreme weather; Security in the Arctic; Fisheries and ecosystem management; Shipping and transportation infrastructure; Arctic Resources; and Tourism."


The 2nd Forum for Arctic Modeling and Observational Synthesis (FAMOS Workshop) "School for Young Arctic Researchers," and "Arctic Scientists Workshop," October 21-25 2013 (Woods Hole, MA). "The Forum for Arctic Ocean Modeling and Observational Synthesis (FAMOS) is an international effort to focus on enhancing collaboration and coordination among arctic marine and sea ice modelers, theoreticians, and observationalists. This collaboration is based on a set of activities starting from generating hypotheses, to planning research including both observations and modeling, and to finalizing analyses synthesizing major results from the field studies and coordinated numerical experiments. 


The major themes of this year's workshop include, but are not limited by studies focused on:

  • Sea ice conditions (drift, thickness and concentration)
  • Atmospheric conditions and circulation regimes
  • Circulation of surface, Pacific and Atlantic water layers
  • State and future of freshwater and heat content
  • Horizontal and vertical mixing
  • Process studies and parameterizations
  • Model validation and calibration
  • Numerical improvements and algorithms
  • Ecosystems, biological issues, and geochemistry"

More info is available at the project's website: 


Workshop: Community Oil Spill Response in Bering and Anadyr Straits, November 7-8, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska). "This workshop will bring together diverse stakeholders to learn more about and respond to community desires to be part of oil spill first-response efforts that help protect food security and other local resources; come to agreement on the multiple roles local community members can play in responding to oil spills; and create an action plan for moving forward on this topic. The workshop is sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society." 


Arctic Cities, Global Processes, and Local Realities, December 2-4, 2013 (Rovaniemi, Finland). "The conference is organized jointly by the City of Rovaniemi and the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland, Finland. The goal of the conference is to present the latest scientific research and knowledge about the global processes as they become local realities. Even if the Conference is scientific in orientation, it aims to bridge science and knowledge into action by bringing top scholars to share their research results, and to organize joint discussion with the leaders of the Arctic Cities. Sessions include: Rovaniemi Process: past, present, future; Arctic responses to global environmental problems; people and extractive industries; tourism in the Arctic; the Arctic in global economy; climate change in the Arctic; indigenous peoples in cities; and, Arctic global flows. Cross-cutting themes include: Arctic cities and global processes; management and governance in the Arctic; and, Arctic together with non-Arctic."


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."


USARC header

Find us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter 

4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 510
Arlington, VA 22203, USA 
(703) 525-0111 (phone)