US Arctic Research Commission
November 19, 2010

Today's Events

The Senate is in session.  No roll call votes are expected, however.  The House is not in session.

president signing
Legislative Action

H.R. 4347, Department of Interior Self-Governance Act. (Senate hearing held)

H.R. 980, Native American Challenge Demonstration Project (Reported by Senate committee)

Media Reviewtodaysevents

Federal Agencies Working to Deal with High Suicide Rates in Alaska. Federal agencies that deal with Alaska Native health issues want to hear from Alaskans about preventing suicide.  Alaska Natives and American Indians have a suicide rate 72 percent higher than the general American population, so the agencies are holding listening sessions all over the country to collect feedback on what should be done to address the problem. APRN

Senators Brace for Lame-Duck Battles as Late-December Session Looms. After the first week of a post-election session that saw both parties struggle to find unity on central policy questions, Democrats and Republicans are training their sights on each other for a post-Thanksgiving, eleventh-hour legislative marathon to close out the 111th Congress. Senators spent much of this week huddled in separate closed-door meetings to chart their parties' course for the final weeks of this Congress and begin to shape the agenda for the 112th Congress leading up to the 2012 elections. Democrats discussed how to deal with expiring tax rates, while Republicans debated a moratorium on earmarks. [CQ article]

Senate Minority Leader Effectively Scuttles Omnibus Plan. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has effectively killed any hopes of passing an omnibus appropriations bill in the lame duck, announcing Thursday that he is opposed to such a measure. Congress will be forced to keep the government operating through a continuing resolution. "If this election showed us anything, it's that Americans don't want Congress passing massive trillion-dollar bills that have been thrown together behind closed doors," McConnell said in a floor speech Thursday. "They want us to do business differently. So I won't be supporting an omnibus spending bill." Government Executive

Parnell Names Attorney General to Natural Resources Post: CABINET POSITION: State attorney general takes new post. Attorney General Dan Sullivan, who has led the state's legal fights against the federal government on land and resource issues, said he's willing to work with agencies to develop Alaska as the state's new natural resources commissioner. Sullivan, 46, was named to the post Thursday by Gov. Sean Parnell, who vowed to bring "new innovators" into his cabinet after winning election earlier this month. Anchorage Daily News

Weekend Votes Unlikely for Senate; Tax Cuts Still Up in the Air. Senate Democrats seemed likely to ward off working into the weekend with a vote on food safety legislation Thursday night, but they still had no clear path forward on extending Bush-era tax cuts. Majority Leader Harry Reid emerged from a three-hour caucus meeting Thursday telling reporters that the lengthy sessions "have been informative and good for me." But the Nevada Democrat was not prepared to roll out a plan to extend some or all of the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, which expire at the end of the year. [Roll Call article]


Scientists Respond to Ocean Acidification Doubts. Recent reports that ocean acidification is proceeding at a worrying pace, particularly in Arctic waters, have led some environmental optimists to question the severity of the problem.  Book author and blogger Matt Ridley, for example, argued in a 4 November opinion piece in the Times that ocean acidification may not be much of an issue. Nature

NOAA: October Ranked 8th Warmest on Record. October ranked the eighth warmest October on record. The first 10 months of 2010 tied with the same period in 1998 for the warmest combined land and ocean surface temperature on record. The global average land surface temperature for January-October was the second warmest on record behind 2007. The global ocean surface temperature for January-October tied with 2003 as the second warmest on record behind 1998. La Nina continues to be a significant factor in global ocean temperatures. NOAA 

Can the Party of Reagan Accept the Science of Climate Change? Watching the raft of newly elected GOP lawmakers converge on Washington, I couldn't help thinking about an issue I hope our party will better address. I call on my fellow Republicans to open their minds to rethinking what has largely become our party's line: denying that climate change and global warming are occurring and that they are largely due to human activities. Washington Post

arctic shippingFuture Eventsfutureevents

Thanksgiving Recess begins, November 20-28.  House and Senate recess for the Thanksgiving break.
International Arctic Conference: Geopolitical Issues and Equations in the 21st Century, November 22-23. The Conference objectives are threefold : To bring together a variety of scientific expertise to stimulate debate and promote further research in the academic world (researchers and students) - To disseminate the state of knowledge on the transformation of the Arctic and its governance to a larger public - To influence official policy.   The Conference is organized around four themes, arranged in the following sessions : - The Arctic: a geographic space in transformation - The Native peoples, political actors - Frontiers and international law - Regional and international regulations.
Arctic Change: Consequences for Marine Life, November 25.  The event is organized as part of the Willem Barentsz Polar Institute as part of the "Poolnacht van Groningen." Presentations will include: Arctic Sea Ice- changes and consequences, Physical and Biological Changes in the Arctic Ocean, The Effects of Past Climate Changes on Abundance and Migration of Marine Mammals in Polar Regions, Sonar Exposure on Marine Mammals, Animal Health in a Changing Arctic, The Modern Whaling Industry in the Arctic: Diffusion and adoptions of a technical system, Sustainability of the Russian Walrus Hunt on Spitsbergen in the 18th Century, Mercury as a Global Pollutant and Its Effect on the Arctic, and The Future of the Arctic.
Canada-United States Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum, November 30- December 2, 2010. The Second Canada - United States Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum will examine the current status and future directions for the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, North Slope and Mackenzie Delta.  The forum will focus on technical, engineering and scientific research under the following topic areas: safety on northern offshore platforms & escape, evacuation and rescue issues; oil spill prevention in the Arctic; oil spill management in the Arctic Transportation logistics for exploration and development in the Arctic; ice engineering issues for offshore platforms; environmental conditions in exploration areas; monitoring for cumulative effects in the Arctic; exploration and development in sensitive coastal habitats.
Arctic Policy 101, December 1-3. PNWER's (Pacific NorthWest Economic Region) newly formed Arctic Caucus is hosting this preliminary meeting in Barrow.  The Caucus formed in October to "provide a forum to share information and develop regional policies to the Arctic and Arctic development." 
Federal Funding, December 3.  The current continuing resolution expires on December 3rd.
American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, December 13-17.  The fall meeting will include sessions on "Extratropical and High-latitude Storms, Teleconnections, and Changing Climate," "Bringing Together Environmental, Socio-Economic, and Climatic Change Studies in Northern Eurasia," "The Use of Observations for Evaluating CMIP5/IPCC Simulations," and "The Future of Polar Science: The Path Beyond the IPY." 
Arctic Town Hall, December 15.  The National Science Foundation, Division of Arctic Sciences, will host a town hall meeting.  For additional information, please contact William Wiseman
New Congress, January 3.  The 112th Congress begins.
Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 17-21. Within each theme (Bering Sea, Arctic Ocean, and Gulf of Alaska), presenters will discuss climate, oceanography, lower trophic levels, the benthos, fishes 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?
Arctic Tipping Points, January 23-29, 2011. Arctic Frontiers will host a conference 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 the 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, 2011.  The 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 Engineering (Harbin, China) will host the Ninth International Symposium on Permafrost Engineering to be held in Mirny, Yakutia. The aim of the Symposium is 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.


president signing
Legislative Action

H.R. 4347, Department of Interior Self-Governance Act. (Senate hearing held)


H.R. 980, Native American Challenge Demonstration Project (Reported by Senate committee)