US Arctic Research Commission
November 29, 2010

Today's Events

The House and Senate return to work today. The Senate is expected to consider food safety legislation. The House is expected to consider legislative provisions under suspension of the rules.

Media Reviewtodaysevents

The Week Ahead: Lame-Duck Race is On. The House and Senate return Mondaylame duck from their Thanksgiving break to resume the lame-duck session. One remaining item on the agenda for the lower chamber is a censure vote on Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.). The ethics committee recommended censure for the 20-term lawmaker and the full House has to vote on it. It can pass with a simple majority. The Hill


Killing the Omnibus Would Deal a Blow to Republican Senators. Republican senators stand to lose nearly $2 billion in project money they requested for their home states if they stick with their leadership and block a year-end omnibus spending bill. This has given Democratic leaders some hope that they might be able to pick up a few Republican votes to pass new spending legislation for fiscal year 2011. The Hill


The Week at a Glance: November 29-December 3. The Senate has a cloture vote scheduled for Monday evening on a food safety bill. If cloture is invoked, the chamber will then decide on allowing votes on unrelated amendments, including changes to provisions in the health care overhaul and a prohibition on earmarks. Later in the week, the Senate Armed Services panel holds a hearing on the Defense Department review of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays in the military. Congressional Quarterly.


Earth's Lakes Are Warming, NASA Study Finds. In the first comprehensive global survey of temperature trends in major lakes, NASA researchers determined Earth's largest lakes have warmed during the past 25 years in response to climate change. Science Daily


Itta Announced "Concern" Over Polar Bear Designation. North Slope Borough Mayor Edward S. Itta announced he's concerned with the designation of critical habitat for the threatened polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. "I agree that polar bear habitat needs protection. The problem is that the polar bear's habitat is melting, and there's nothing our people can do to change that," the mayor said. According to a release from the mayor's office, Itta said he opposed the ESA listing of polar bears as a threatened species because it would trigger actions that "wouldn't improve the fate of the species but may lull Americans into believing that the bears are protected." The Arctic Sounder


 Caribou Survival Depends on Ancient Cultural Knowledge. It's beginning to be the time of year when caribou, as reindeer are known in North America, show up on holiday cards and tree ornaments. But not all is well with this iconic species, which has been in retreat from humans for decades. Now, new thinking about the conservation and restoration of North America's wild herds of caribou combines not only the latest western approach to science but also the tried-and-tested ancient knowledge and perspectives of indigenous cultures that co-existed so long and so successfully with these northern animals. National Geographic Blog


[Prehistoric] Hunting Linked to Arctic Extinctions, Warming: Scientists. During the last Ice Age, shaggy mammoths, woolly rhinos and bison lumbered across northern Siberia. Then, about 10,000 years ago -- in the span of a geological heartbeat, or a few hundred years -- the last of them disappeared. Many scientists believe a dramatic shift in climate drove these giant grazers to extinction. But two scientists who live year-round in the frigid Siberian plains say man -- either for food, fuel or fun -- hunted the animals to extinction. Winnipeg Free Press


'Arctic Gardens' Offer Firsthand Accounts of Northern Survival. When I met author Harvard Ayers this past summer and asked about the title of his new book, I thought it must have to do with a survey of backyard gardens. Well, yes and no. In "Arctic Gardens: Voices from an Abundant Land," Ayers and co-authors Landon Pennington and Dave Harman, have told the stories of how indigenous residents of Alaska and northern Canada rely on the land, water and air as "gardens." Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 


Alberta Strengthens Ties with Arctic Neighbors. Alberta's perspective on northern infrastructure development tied to a potential Alaskan natural gas pipeline will be front and centre at the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Arctic Caucus Leadership Forum in Barrow, Alaska, December 1-3.  Ray Prins, MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka, will represent Alberta at the forum and meet with industry leaders and legislators from across the U.S. and Canada. As co-chair of the task force on competitiveness, focusing on feedstock and other issues related to the petrochemical industry, Prins is particularly interested in advancing Alberta as a commercial energy hub. Canada Views


U.S. Firms Up 'Critical Habitat' for Polar Bears. The Interior Department designated 187,157 square miles of Alaskan seas and lands as critical to the survival of the polar bear on Wednesday. More than 95 percent of it is offshore, including some areas that may have large undersea oil deposits. Any development in an area that has been declared critical habitat for an endangered or threatened species must undergo extensive scrutiny by federal biologists and is often eventually ruled out. Two populations of polar bears designated as threatened two years ago and thus protected under the Endangered Species Act roam widely in the areas designated by the Fish and Wildlife Service, part of the Interior Department.  New York Times

Future Eventsfutureevents

Opening the Arctic: Science Challenges to Understanding the Impacts of Climate Change, November 30.  The Arctic poses unique challenges relative to climate change that will have profound implications for how the Navy operates and sustains its current and emerging missions in the Arctic. From reductions in seasonal sea ice that open up new shipping routes, to amplified coastal erosion, to melting permafrost, climate change is likely to alter the environment in ways that introduce new physical processes and unexpected ecological changes. This session will explore the variety of science challenges that now confront our understanding of the Arctic and the Navy's ability to conduct its activities on the sea and on land in an environmentally sound manner in this unique region.  


NOAA, Martime Nominations, November 30. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on pending nominations, including: Scott Doney to be chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Mario Cordero and Rebecca Dye to be commissioners of the Federal Maritime Commission.

Canada-United States Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum, November 30- Canada-US flagsDecember 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 on the Arctic and Arctic development." 
Federal Funding, December 3. The current continuing resolution expires on December 3rd.
American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, December 13-17The 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." 
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Arctic Town Hall Meeting at AGU, 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 AMSS 2011 promoSea, 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, 2011The 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 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, 2011The 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


S. 685, Oil Spill Prevention Act (Referred to House subcommittee)

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