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January 7, 2014


capital Today's Congressional Action: 

The House will meet for a pro forma session. The Senate will consider unemployment insurance legislation.





budget Spending Bill on Track to Avert Shutdown. If it weren't clear already that lawmakers - especially Republicans - want to avoid another government shutdown, the overwhelming optimism Monday that Congress will pass an omnibus spending measure for the first time in two years tips their hand. Democratic and Republican aides in both chambers believe that Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., and House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., will come to an agreement this week on a more than $1 trillion bill to fund the government. But even with the highest hopes for swift passage, negotiating a behemoth spending package that touches every corner of the government is not easy. Roll Call


How the Arctic is Playing a Role in East Coast Cold Snap and the 'Polar Vortex.' A bitter Arctic blast spanning the central and eastern U.S. has propelled the phrase "polar vortex" from the pages of dense scientific papers to headline status as frigid temperatures and strong winds close schools and businesses and prompt forecasters to warn of "historic and life-threatening" conditions. In essence, a buildup of Arctic air, its chill deepened by 24 hours of darkness during winter, has breached its meteorological fence to pour deep into North America. Alaska Dispatch


Group Says Canada's Boreal Forest at Risk. Canada has made significant strides in protecting the vast boreal forest that stretches across most of its provinces and territories, but the world's largest intact forest ecosystem still faces threats, says an environmental group. The amount of boreal forest under some form of government protection has doubled since 2007 to about 12 per cent of the total area, biologist Jeff Wells of the Canadian Boreal Initiative said recently. Alaska Dispatch


Russian Arctic - No Trespassing. You might be thousands of kilometers from Russia's nearest state border, but you are still in a border zone. The FSB's decrets on the extension of the Russian border zone from 2006 include major parts of the country's Arctic coastline, including all archipelagos. In the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the oil-rich region situated by the Pechora Sea, a 20 km border zone belt stretches all along the more than 1700 km long coastline. Barents Observer


Low and Declining Mercury in Arctic Russian Rivers. A team of scientists from the U.S., Russia and Canada has compared mercury concentrations in burbot (Lota lota) from 20 locations along the Pasvik river on the Norwegian-Russian border and along the Mackenzie River in Canada with findings from the Lena and Mezen rivers in Russian Arctic. Lena is the easternmost of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean, while Mezen runs through the Komi Republic and Arkhangelsk regions and flows into the White Sea. Barents Observer


Arctic Report Card Underscores Continues Long-Term Warming Trend. Although fewer record-setting snow and ice events occurred in the Arctic in 2013 compared to 2012, 'the impacts of the persistent warming trend of over 30 years remain clearly evident," according to the 2013 Arctic Report Card issued by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at a 12 December news briefing at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. Among the report's findings are that the annual minimum Arctic sea ice extent in September 2013 was more than 50% greater than the minimum extent in 2012, which was the lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. However, the 2013 minimum extent still was the sixth lowest on record. EOS


Arctic Issues are Alaska's Issues [Editorial]. In 1969, the Apollo 11 crew planted six U.S. flags in the surface of the moon, a gesture more symbolic than literal, as a reminder to anyone who followed that America, and not Russia and its competing space program, made it there first. Thirty-seven years later Russia returned the favor, but instead of shooting for the stars its objective was much closer to Earth. Using a submarine, explorers planted a Russian flag 14,000 feet deep on the ocean floor, laying claim to the seabed and all the oil and gas beneath. Juneau Empire


University of Washington Gets Future of Ice Program. With the planet's polar regions changing faster than ever before in human history, the University of Washington is launching a new initiative to boost research in the Arctic and prepare students for a world where melting ice is opening new opportunities - and posing new threats. Under the Future of Ice program, the university will hire eight scientists and faculty members and offer the country's first Arctic studies minor outside of Alaska. Juneau Empire

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No legislative action was formally considered yesterday. 

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 Technology Conference, February 10-12, 2014. (Houston, TX) Founded in 1969, the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) provides offshore resources in the fields of drilling, exploration, production and environmental protection. The Arctic Technology Conference (ATC) is built upon OTC's successful multidisciplinary approach, with 14 technical societies and organizations. The conference is an international event focused on continuing innovative technologies and solutions needed for exploration and production of energy within the circum-Arctic.


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."

 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 Biodiversity Assessment, December 2-4, 2014. (Trondheim, Norway)

The Arctic Council's Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) working group is organizing the first Arctic Biodiversity Congress in Trondheim, Norway on December 2-4, 2014. The Arctic Biodiversity Congress will promote the conservation and sustainable use of Arctic biodiversity through dialogue among scientists, policy-makers, government officials, industry, civil society and indigenous peoples. It is closely linked to the findings and recommendations of the first Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) released in May 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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