US Arctic Research Commission
December 20, 2010

Today's Eventstodaysevents


The Senate resumes consideration of a resolution to approve the ratification of new strategic arms-control treaty with Russia, with procedural votes expected.


 Also awaiting action this week is a continuing appropriations bill to fund the federal government past Tuesday, when a stopgap measure signed by President Obama on Dec. 18 expires. The Senate could take up bills to provide health care and compensation to Sept. 11 workers exposed to debris from the site of the attacks and a stripped-down version of the fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill. The House returns Tuesday.

Media Reviewtodaysevents


Spending Bill, START Top Week's Agenda. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday evening put the chamber on a course to finish its business by midweek, setting up test votes on two crucial agenda items. Still anticipating GOP-led filibusters of both a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia and a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through March 4, 2011, Reid scheduled Tuesday votes to overcome those blockades. He said he is still holding out hope that he will reach time agreements with Republicans, which would obviate the need for those votes. Roll Call


GOP Budget Freshman Welcome Collapse of Omnibus Spending Bill. Incoming Republicans who are eager to take an ax to federal spending as members of the House Budget Committee said they are buoyed by the collapse of the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill last week. In interviews with The Hill, six of the new committee members said they welcome the opportunity to force President Obama to accept quick cuts to federal spending next year. The Hill


Senate Leaders Agree on Spending Bill Through March McConnell Says. The Senate GOP and Democratic leaders have brokered an agreement on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded into March, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday. The Kentucky Republican and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) agreed on the short-term CR instead of an omnibus spending bill exceeding $1 trillion that Reid supported and Republicans opposed, McConnell said on CNN's "State of the Union." Roll Call


Divided Chambers, Strategies, Schedules in 2011. CantorTo get a sense of how things will work in the 112th Congress, look at next year's House and Senate schedules. Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., released separate 2011 calendars for their chambers the week of Dec. 6. The leaders did not collaborate on scheduling, resulting in an unusually large number of weeks - at least 12 - when one chamber will be in session while the other takes a break. "It just shows how much the leadership is not on the same page in the House and Senate," said Brian Darling, director of Senate relations at the conservative- leaning Heritage Foundation. Congressional Quarterly


Nominees: Waiting Their Turn. With time running out in the 111th Congress, Democratic and Republican leaders continue to negotiate which of President Obama's nominees to confirm before they adjourn. Here are some of the highest-profile of Obama's nominees still awaiting action, including those who have attracted the most intense Republican opposition.

Scott C. Doney

Position: Chief scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Committee approval: Dec. 8, 2010

Status: David Vitter, R-La., placed a hold on Doney's nomination to highlight a slowdown in the Interior Department's permitting process for offshore drilling, which Vitter opposes.

Congressional Quarterly


Polar Scientists Discuss Polar Bears' Fate. [Blog] In my piece weighing the merits of very different strategies for giving ice-dependent polar bears a chance in a warming world, I promised I'd post the views of some of the biologists, sea-ice researchers and climate scientists who've been tracking relevant questions. I queried a variety of ice and bear specialists about a letter sent last week to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar by a group of climate scientists. The letter pressed for the department to accept that the risk to bears from retreating sea ice is "imminent," not a long-term process as the department concluded in its listing of the species as threatened, not endangered, under the Endangered Species Act. The letter noted that the sharp recent reduction in the extent of sea ice, and particularly thick older sea ice, was far outpacing what had been projected by computer simulations. New York Times 


Wide-Ranging Science Education and Research Legislation Goes Back to House. House leaders hope to clear Tuesday a long-delayed bill to reauthorize spending on an array of science, education and technology programs and agencies. The Senate passed an amended version of the bill last week, and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., listed it on his whip notice for likely action Tuesday. The Senate agreed by unanimous consent to adopt a substitute amendment and pass the legislation (HR 5116), which is known as the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act. Congressional Quarterly


New Research Vessels and Satellite Connection for Russian Arctic. A fleet of new research vessels and establishing a Russian Arctic satellite systems are on top of Leonid Vasiliev's wish list. Vasiliev leads the Arkhangelsk-based Northern Service on Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring. Barents Observer


Coast Guard [Canada] Dishes Out Arctic Oil Spill Kits. The Coast Guard has finished the distribution of oil spill cleanup kits to 19 Arctic communities at a cost of $2.26 million, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced in a press release last week. Called "Arctic community packs," each kit contains surface booms, shoreline cleanup equipment, small boats and outboard motors, and in some communities, beach flushing equipment. Nunatsiaq Online


Government [Canada] Defends Decision to Ban Narwhal Tusk Sales: International Protocols Tie Canada's Hands, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Says. The Canadian government is defending its controversial decision to ban the export of narwhal tusks from most of the Nunavut communities currently selling the spear-like objects that inspired the unicorn myth. Officials with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans told Postmedia News on Friday that Canada's hands are essentially tied on the issue because of its commitment to the protocols of an international wildlife treaty controlling the global trade in animal parts -- including the long, spiralling tooth that serves as a sensor and mating adornment for the iconic Arctic whale.  Ottawa Citizen


Experts: Canada Must Step Up Arctic Charting: More Near Disasters Likely in Nunavut Waters. Canada should outfit the hulls of its future fleet of Arctic patrol arctic shippingboats with sonar beams to help chart Arctic seaways around Nunavut, a mapping expert told the ArcticNet conference Dec. 16 in Ottawa. Otherwise there will be more near-disastrous incidents, like the Sept. 1 grounding of the tanker Nanny near Gjoa Haven and that of the cruise ship Clipper Adventurer, whose sight-seeing detour in the Coronation Gulf left it marooned Aug. 27 on a shoal 90 kilometres east of Kugluktuk, John Hughes Clarke, head of the University of New Brunswick's ocean mapping group, told conference participants. Nunatsiaq Online

Legislative Actionfutureevents

H.R. 5116, America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (Rep. Gordon- passed agreed to in the Senate)


S. 2870, International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act (Sen. Inouye- placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar)


S. 3566, Maritime Administration Authorization Act (Sen. Lautenberg- Placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar)


S. 3597, Securing Health for Ocean Resources and Environment Act (Sen. Rockefeller- placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar)


S. 4043, To revise and extend provisions under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (re: suicide) (Sen. Dodd- introduced and referred to committee)


S.J.Res. 42, to extend the continuing resolution until February 18, 2011 (Sen. McConnell- placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar)

Future Eventsfutureevents


New Congress, January 3. The 112th Congress begins.
Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 17-21. Within each theme (Bering AMSS 2011 promoSea, Arctic Ocean, and Gulf of Alaska), presenters will discuss climate, oceanography, lower trophic levels, the benthos, fish and invertebrates, seabirds, marine mammals, local and traditional knowledge, and socioeconomic research.
National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment, January 19-21. One of the conference themes is "White Arctic/ Blue Arctic." This theme will address ice changes in the Arctic to consider several questions: What does science tell us about the future of the Arctic? How would issues about the future - white or blue - be resolved? What models and monitoring data will be required to support an emerging management regime that would allow for sustainable use of the Arctic? How can use of the Arctic and its resources be managed in the face of these possibilities? 

Public Forum on Natural Gas Markets, January 22. The federal coordinator's office for the Alaska natural gas pipeline will sponsor a public forum on gas markets Jan. 22 to help Alaskans better understand the supply-and-demand fundamentals affecting the proposed pipeline project. The Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects will bring to Alaska several national experts on Lower 48 supply and demand including shale gas, the effect of federal clean air regulations on natural gas demand, and foreign markets for liquefied natural gas. Panelists


Arctic Tipping Points, January 23-29, 2011. Arctic Frontiers will host a conferenceseesaw considering the following topics: Ice-ocean-atmosphere interactions in the Arctic;  Marine ecosystems and fisheries; Socioeconomic and institutional perspectives; and People of the North.
President's Budget, February 7. By statute, the president is required to submit his annual budget proposal to Congress by the first Monday in February.
Arctic Technology Conference, February 7-9, 2011. The Arctic is one of the few places on the globe which still holds enormous new petroleum reserve potential. A recently completed USGS survey estimated that 20% of the world's remaining reserves were trapped beneath the Arctic Circle. OTC's inaugural Arctic Technology Conference (ATC), 7-9 February 2011 in Houston, Texas, will be a truly global event focused on the cutting-edge technologies and innovative practices needed for exploration and production in the Arctic.

International Conference on Arctic Marine Science, International Law and Climate Protection, March 17-18. The German Federal Foreign Office is hosting an event that will take place on the Berlin premises of the Federal Office. The event is co-hosted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, with additional support from prominent research institutes. The Conference will discuss the legal framework for marine scientific research in the Arctic Ocean at present and in the future. Scholars, scientists and diplomats with an interest in the Arctic Ocean are invited to attend. For more information, please contact

Arctic Science Summit Week, Seoul, March 28-April 1, 2011. The purpose of Korean Flagthe Arctic Science Summit Week is to provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in all fields of Arctic science. The Arctic Science Week 2011 is supported by the Korean government, the Korean Research Council of Fundamental Science & Technology, and the Seoul Tourism Organization, among other groups.
Sixth International Conference on Arctic Margins, May 31-June 2, 2011 at the University of Alaska - Fairbanks.  The International Conference on Arctic Margins (ICAM) will examine current geological and geophysical research on the Arctic. Topics include: hydrocarbon potential and gas hydrates; science issues relating to UNCLOS Article 76; geodynamic significance of Arctic magmatism; vertical motions in the Arctic, tectonic, and glacial; geology and palaeogeography of the Arctic continental margins; evolution of the Arctic Ocean basins, including plate reconstructions, magmatism, and sedimentology; modern Arctic environments, including geological, climatic, and oceanographic processes; recent advances in Arctic research technology. More information email.
7th Congress of the International Arctic Social Sciences, June 22-26, 2011The 7th Congress, "Circumpolar Perspectives in Global Dialogue: Social Sciences Beyond the IPY," will be held in Akureyri, Iceland. The International Congress of the Arctic Social Sciences is held every three years. 
Holocene Glacier Variability from the Tropics to the Poles, July 20-27, 2011. Glaciers respond sensitively to climate change. Recent (Holocene) glacier fluctuations are a valuable proxy for terrestrial interglacial paleoclimate conditions. A main challenge for interpreting paleoclimate from past mountain glacier extents is distinguishing local and regional patterns from global signals. Reconstructing Holocene glacier extents involves many disciplines including terrestrial and marine geology, geochronology and glaciology. Organizers hope to facilitate an inter-hemispheric comparison of glacier records including locations in the Tropics, European Alps, American Cordillera, Southern Alps of New Zealand, Himalaya and Polar Regions and to identify future research questions and directions. For additional information contact: Meredith Kelly.
13th Arctic Ungulates Conference (AUC), August 22-26, 2011. The theme of the conference will be "Challenges of Managing Northern Ungulates." The theme addresses the difficulties of managing ungulate populations that are faced with the unpredictable effects of climate change and an ever-increasing human presence on the land. The conference will also focus on the challenges associated with developing recovery actions for declining caribou and reindeer populations that are an integral part of Aboriginal cultures and ways of life. 
9th International Symposium on Permafrost Engineering, September 3-7, 2011. The Melnikov Permafrost Institute (Yakutsk, Russia), the Institute of Northern Mining (Yakutsk, Russia), the Cold and Arid Regions Engineering and Environmental Research Institute (Lanzhou, China), and the Heilongjiang Institute of Cold Region permafrostEngineering (Harbin, China) will host the Ninth International Symposium on  Permafrost Engineering to be held in Mirny, Yakutia. The aim of the Symposium i s to provide a forum for discussion of permafrost engineering issues, as well as for exchange of practical experience in construction and maintenance of engineering structures on frozen ground. For additional information, please contact Lilia Prokopieva.
Lowell Wakefield International Fisheries Symposium, September 14-17, 2011. The 27th Lowell Wakefield International Fisheries Symposium, entitled "Fishing People of the North: Cultures, Economies, and Management Responding to Change," will be held in Anchorage, Alaska. This international symposium will provide a forum for scholars, fishery managers, fishing families, and others to explore the human dimensions of fishery systems and growing need to include social science research in policy processes. The conference is part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sea Grant program.


The Tenth International Conference on Permafrost, June 2012. The conference will be held in Tyumen, Russia, and is organized and hosted by Russia. The last conference was held in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2008.  More details to follow.


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