Arctic Update Header
January 27, 2014


capital Today's Congressional Action:   

The House and Senate are expected to consider non-Arctic legislation today.




capital Farm Bill to be Unveiled Monday Afternoon. The long-delayed farm bill is set for release Monday afternoon, and Agriculture Committee negotiators are increasingly confident the $1 trillion bipartisan measure can pass the House on Wednesday. Talks on the farm bill's final issues were continuing Monday morning but the major pillars of the five-year food stamp, farm subsidy and crop insurance measure are in place.  [Issues such as salmon, and land conservation may be considered in the bill.] The Hill


New Hunting Quota for Hudson Bay Polar Bears Under Consideration. Drikus Gissing, the head of wildlife management for the Canadian eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, says the polar bear stock there is in good health. Gissing says the population has been stable for close to 30 years -- about as long as the territory has had a managed hunt. "I think we have a very good management system and we hope it's a model for any other jurisdiction harvesting polar bears," Gissing says. Alaska Dispatch


caribou Consultations Underway on Dwindling Baffin Island Caribou. Community consultations about low caribou numbers have been underway this week in the Baffin region of Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. The Nunavut government and Inuit organizations are hearing from people affected by the scarcity of caribou on Baffin Island. In 2012, an aerial survey of southern Baffin Island confirmed the drastic decline in numbers. Alaska Dispatch


Is the Arctic in Climate Change Denial? [Opinion] Changes to the sea ice and temperature are altering life rapidly and visibly for people in the high north. So I was intrigued by a side event here at the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsö, Norway that made it clear that people are not necessarily aware of climate change and what it involves -- at least not consciously or actively. Alaska Dispatch


IMO's 'Polar Code' Ignores Environmental Dangers of Increasing Arctic and Antarctic Shipping. [Opinion] The new draft 'Polar Code' of safety and environmental rules fails to address the looming danger of having non ice-strengthened and poorly prepared ships in supposedly 'ice-free' polar waters, environmental organizations have warned. The final draft, drawn up today by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), governs ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters. Increased shipping activity poses significant new threats to the polar environment and wildlife through oil spills, black carbon deposition, sewage discharges and the introduction of invasive species. The IMO today reached preliminary agreement on rules for the vessels, which will increasingly include oil tankers, container ships and cruise ships potentially operated by crew not accustomed to such harsh conditions. Blinded by the prospect of 'ice-free' operations enabled by the sea ice melt, the IMO makes the fateful assumption that these ships can safely operate without special hull protection or restrictions such as reduced speed. Port News


Hub for Canada's Arctic Patrol Has Got that Sinking Feeling. The deep-water wharf that will serve as a refuelling hub for Canadian sovereignty patrols in the Arctic is slowly sinking for reasons that only became apparent several years after Ottawa announced Nanisivik would be this country's northernmost naval facility. In 2010, measurements showed the Baffin Island wharf had sunk about two metres since construction in the mid-1970s. Engineers went "searching for plausible ways to explain why the structure had settled so much," says a technical paper on the matter presented to a 2013 civil engineering conference in Alaska. The Globe and Mail


Russia in Arctic Dimensions. The Arctic is in the zone of Russia's special interests. During the last week, the Russian authorities, experts and the international community were actively engaged in the issues of developing the Arctic region. President Vladimir Putin held a meeting on the issue of military presence in the Arctic; leading political scientists and scholars participated in a round table discussion of the development of infrastructure in the Arctic; and the International Maritime Organization announced an adoption of the Polar Code in the coming days. Voice of Russia


Alaska Legislature Arctic Issues Will Be Hot Topic as Legislature Convenes. The Arctic will be a hot topic in the months ahead for state legislators. Co-chairs of the state Arctic Policy Commission, Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, and Rep. Bob Herron, D-Bethel, said Jan. 16 that they have plans to enter the 2014 legislative session "armed with an Arctic legislation package," according to a commission release. In addition to the bill Herron introduced last session to establish an Arctic Port Authority and Development, House Bill 165, McGuire is drafting legislation that could serve as a foundation to fund the estimated $100 billion worth of Arctic infrastructure in need of private investment, the release states. Alaska Journal 


Unalaska's Arctic Agenda: Win Funds and Influence People. Stung by not even being considered in a recent Arctic port study, Unalaska city officials believe they know what they need to do to keep federal funding flowing into the Aleutian Islands community: Always attend meetings where Arctic agendas are discussed. The city's Arctic agenda: win funds and influence people. While Unalaska is about a thousand miles away from the Arctic, the city is already feeling the impact of increased commerce as the nearest year-round open water port, city officials said. The Dutch Harbor Fisherman 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No legislative action was formally considered Friday.

Future Events


Building Climate Solutions, January 28-30, 2014 (Washington, DC). The conference is organized by the National Council and Environment with the assistance of a variety of partnering organizations. The conference is expected to engage over 1,200 key individuals from many fields of sciences and engineering, government and policy, business and civil society to advance solutions to climate change.The conference will be organized around two areas: [1] The Built Environment; and, [2] Agriculture and Natural Resources. Under these two themes, 24 tracks connect the conference to specific initiatives led by partnering organizations that advance solutions. In this manner, participants will engage with and have lasting impact on real world responses to climate change. 


The Arctic Encounter Symposium, February 7-8, 2014 (Seattle, Washington). 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 commissioners Fran Ulmer and Edward Itta will be speaking.

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.


**New** Developing Alaska's Marine Workforce, February 14, 2014. (Anchorage, Alaska, USA). The North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) hosts the luncheon. Discussion will focus on industry strategies for moving forward to secure Alaska's future needs for an educated and trained workforce are met. Feature presentations include a recap of NAMEPA's 2012 meeting, University of Alaska updates on the FSMI (Alaska's Fisheries, Seafood, Maritime Initiative) Workforce Development Plan and trends in education and training. 


Arctic Ambitions, February 27-28, 2014 (Girdwood, Alaska). World Trade Center Alaska will host Arctic Ambitions III: Commercial Development of the Arctic. This conference focuses solely on Arctic international trade and business opportunities. It is anticipated that about 200 business and government leaders attending next year's conference.

Arctic Ambitions III will concentrate on the theme of international trade and business opportunities that flow from resource development in the Arctic. While policy and research inform the discussion, the conference focuses on global markets, international trade and logistics. The previous two conferences brought together presenters from Canada, Finland, Norway, Russia, Korea and Alaska. USARC Chair Fran Ulmer will be a speaker. 

Warming Arctic Development, Stewardship and Science, March 3-4, 2014 (Medford, MA, USA). The Fletch School of Tufts University will sponsor this event on the implications of the warming Arctic. The event will focus on the economic development of the High North lands in the years ahead. Topics will include: when and where will warming most likely happen; how will commercial interests approach the fragile Arctic lands and peoples; and, how will government regulations affect Arctic warming.


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


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