US Arctic Research Commission

Dear Readers,

Publication of the "Arctic Update" will resume on January 3. Thanks for your continued interest in Arctic research. We at the USARC wish you a joyous and restorative holiday.


John Farrell
December 21, 2010

Today's Eventstodaysevents


The Senate votes on cloture for a continuing resolution to fund the government through March 4. If cloture is invoked, senators could move to passage. A cloture vote is also expected for the arms treaty with Russia.


The House votes to clear a food safety bill. With funding for the government expiring, members could also finish up the appropriations bill should it arrive from the Senate.

Media Reviewtodaysevents


Senate Democrats Struggle to Set Endgame. The Senate continued to lurch toward a close Monday as lawmakers held out hope of bolting from Washington before Christmas Eve so they could spend at least the holiday weekend at home. Although Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had wanted to finish on Monday evening a continuing resolution funding the government through March, Republicans were still reviewing the bill. Roll Call

Senate Closes in On Votes for Treaty. A pathway began to emerge Monday for the Senate to approve ratification of an arms control treaty with Russia - one of the Obama administration's top foreign policy priorities - before lawmakers leave for the year. So far, supporters of the arms reduction agreement (Treaty Doc 111-5) known as New START have five of the nine Republicans they need to approve ratification, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who announced Monday he would vote for it. Congressional Quarterly

Ocean Acidification Changes Nitrogen Cycling in World Seas. Increasing acidity in the sea's waters may fundamentally change how nitrogen is cycled in them, say marine scientists who published their findings in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Science Daily 

Rival Gas Producers Russia, Qatar Talk Reindeer Meat. When rival energy producers Russia and Qatar talk business, it's no longer only about natural gas -- reindeerthey're talking reindeer meat, which Russia has promised to export and butcher  according to Muslim dietary law. The prospect of Russia exporting halal reindeer meat products to the desert kingdom first came up last month when the governor of Russia's Arctic Yamal Nenets region, where most of Russia's gas is produced, was in Qatar for investment talks. Reuters Life!

Inuit Health a Priority for Next Phase of Canada's ArcticNet: New academic focus on info from health survey. The impact of climate change in the North will remain the guiding force behind the next seven years of ArcticNet, but Inuit will increasingly influence how we gauge that impact and what gets studied. On the final day of ArcticNet's four-day Ottawa conference last week, scientific director Louis Fortier said the network's string of university-based research chairs is committed to addressing issues such as food security and northern industrial development but in particular, Inuit health. Researchers, funded with a $10 million IPY contribution, surveyed the health status of thousands of Inuit from Nunavut, Nunatsiavut and the Northwest Territories in 2007 and 2008. Nunatsiaq Online

Mackenzie Pipeline Ok'd, Now What? Last week, Canada's National Energy Board issued its approval of the estimated $16.2 billion Arctic pipeline project to bring natural gas from the Mackenzie Delta to market in Alberta. The federal approval is a step forward for the effort, indeed, but lagging natural gas prices and a still-bloated North American market still pose obstacles. What's more, the Herald's energy columnist, Deborah Yedlin, doesn't tiptoe around while registering her assessment. She believes the door has closed for good on the Mackenzie project, that the project's failure is destined without an increase in market demand, and that the project's eventual failure should be considered an example of how big projects can die while the world changes under slow-moving, institutional feet. Alaska Dispatch

Senate Reauthorizes Science and Technology Programs. The Senate voted to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act Friday, leaving approval of the plan for science and technology research programs to the House. The legislation authorizes research and education programs at federal science agencies in an effort to boost U.S. competitiveness. National Journal 

Legislative Actionfutureevents

No Arctic-related legislation was formally considered yesterday.

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?

95th meeting of the USARC, Jan. 21, Anchorage. The USARC will meet in the usarc logo smallQuadrant room of the Captain Cook Hotel, starting at 8:30 am. A detailed agenda will be available at in early January.

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 issues 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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