US Arctic Research Commission
April 15, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate adjourned for the spring recess. The Senate will reconvene on May 2nd.  The House is in session to consider a FY 2012 budget resolution plan.

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


Spending Bill Sails Through Chambers After Months of Standoffs. Formally ending months of bipartisan squabbling, eleventh-hour negotiations and a series of short-term continuing resolutions, the Senate easily cleared on Thursday a spending bill with $38 billion in cuts that will keep the government open through September. Strong majorities in both parties backed the compromise, which was ironed out last week by President Barack Obama, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a race against the clock to avoid a government shutdown. 


Nominations to the Senate. President Obama nominated Robert Zimmer to be a member of the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation. The White House 


Murkowski Presses Commerce Secretary for Fishery Protections: Senator Tells Locke to 'Save Your Dollars' on Spatial Planning Projects in Alaska. Senator Lisa Murkowski today highlighted the importance of Alaska's fisheries in a series of questions with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke at a Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee hearing of the Appropriations Committee.  "Over half of the fish harvested in the United States comes from sustainably-managed Alaskan fisheries - yet we receive a disproportionate share of the overall funding," Murkowski said.  "We have the best fisheries science and management in the country and we must not lose that."  


Arctic Climate Change a "Crucial Foreign Policy Issue" Being Ignored: Ex-Foreign Minister. Arctic climate change is one of the most crucial foreign and environmental policy issues facing Canada, but it has largely been ignored by all parties in the current federal election, says former foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Winnipeg, speaking at a Toronto event to discuss a report on Arctic climate change released this week by U.S.-based Aspen Institute. The Vancouver Sun


Interior Department Studies Possible Effects of Chukchi Oil Spill. The Interior Department has released a memo that looks at the potential for a large oil spill from a well blowout in the Chukchi Sea. The Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy and Management selected a study area with geology that would produce high flow rates and then modeled what would happen during a blowout scenario like the Gulf of Mexico spill. The analysis shows oil flowing at a rate of 60 thousand barrels per day initially, dropping off to 19,000 barrels per day after 3 months. The World Wildlife Fund requested the memo. APRN


Verbal Toxins Emitted Toward EPA on Alaska Drilling. Arctic offshore oil and gasOil Drilling in Alaska drilling was front-and-center in Washington D.C. this week as a House subcommittee took testimony Wednesday from various Alaska interests, including the state's full congressional delegation, as it considered draft legislation that would affect the Environmental Protection Agency's enforcement of air quality standards under the Clean Air Act.  As many readers may guess, Alaska's delegation had stern words for the EPA. Congressman Don Young's prepared testimony centered on the EPA's seeming reluctance to grant air permits to Shell for exploratory drilling off Alaska's northern coast. Senator Mark Begich spoke of that matter and the Army Corps of Engineers' denial of a bridge permit that would have facilitated development activity in the North Slope's National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and further gave support to the idea that the Department of the Interior, not the EPA, should control air quality permitting in Alaska's offshore regions, as is currently the case in the Gulf of Mexico. Sen. Lisa Murkowski leveled serious criticism at EPA, saying that the agency was exhibiting incompetency in Alaska permitting, and that the current system allows the agency an "indefensible" amount of authority over the nation's energy policy. Alaska Dispatch



Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.R. 1473, Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act. (Rogers- Passed in the House and Senate)


S. 843, to establish outer Continental Shelf lease and permit processing coordination offices, and for other purposes. (Begich- introduced and referred to committee)


Future Events     


What does the National Ocean Policy Mean for the Arctic Region, On April 19, 2011, University of Alaska Fairbank's "Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy" (ACCAP) will host a webinar titled "What does the National Ocean Policy mean for the Arctic region?"  Please join Dr. Cheryl Rosa, of the US Arctic Research Commission and Dr. Mary Boatman from the Executive Office of the President, to learn about the development of a strategic action plan for changing conditions in the Arctic, and to share your comments, questions, and ideas.


The Arctic as a Messenger for Global Processes- Climate Change and Pollution (pdf), May 4-6, 2011. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), the University of Copenhagen, and Aarhus University. The conference will include talks by invited keynote speakers, oral presentations selected on the basis of submitted abstracts, poster presentations, and short oral presentations of selected posters. A panel discussion will develop messages to be communicated to the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting that will take place in Greenland one week after the conference. 

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.  


American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium, June 5-14. This policy colloquium brings together a group to consider atmospheric policy.  The colloquium will cover policy creation basics, interactions with congressional staff, and information on the current atmospheric policy issues. 


The Arctic Imperative, June 19-21, 2011. The Alaska Dispatch, Aspen Institute, Commonwealth North, and the Institute of the North will host a forum titled "The Arctic Imperative: Think of the Bering Strait as the Next Panama Canal."  The forum will bring together international policymakers, industry, and investment leaders to consider topics just as security, resources, port development, marine shipping, commerce, and trade.


4th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations, June 20-21, 2011.  The symposium is co-hosted by the U.S. icediminisharcticNational Ice Center (NIC) and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. This symposium addresses present and future impacts of rapid changes in Arctic Ocean sea ice cover on a wide range of maritime operations. The forum, the fourth in a series, is a key opportunity for federal entities to discuss their response to changes in both the Arctic environment and associated policies.


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.  


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. 

13th Arctic Ungulates Conference (AUC), August 22-26, 2011. The theme of the conference will be "Challenges of Managing Northern Ungulates." The theme Muskokaddresses 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. 


4th International Sea Duck Conference, September 12-16. The conference is held to provide researchers and managers with opportunities to share information, research, and conduct workshops.


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.    


Advanced Workshop on Oil Spills In Sea Ice: Past, Present and Future

A technical workshop, organized by Dr. Peter Wadhams, on the physical problems associated with oil spills and blowouts in sea ice will be held at the Istituto Geografico Polare "Silvio Zavatti," Fermo, Italy, on September 20-23, 2011. Scientists, engineers and policy makers are invited to address the questions of how oil is emitted from a blowout or spill, how the oil and gas are incorporated in the under-ice surface, how the oil layer evolves, how the oil is transported by the ice, and how and where eventual release occur. The aim is to incorporate the experience of those scientists who worked in this field in the 1970s-1990s, when large-scale field experiments involving oil release were possible, and to relate this to the needs of present researchers who are seeking solutions to the problem of a sustainable Arctic oil spill management system. Notably, the workshop will be attended by the oil spill work package of the EU ACCESS project (Arctic Climate Change and its Effect on Economic Systems). Registration forms are available here


The Tenth International Conference on Permafrost, June 2012. The conference permafrostwill 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. 


Arctic/ Inuit/ Connections: Learning from the Top of the World, October 24-28, 2012.  The 18th Inuit Studies Conference, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, will be held in Washington, DC. The conference will consider heritage museums and the North; globalization: an Arctic story; power, governance and politics in the North; the '"new" Arctic: social, cultural and climate change; and Inuit education, health, language, and literature. For more information, please email Lauren Marr.



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