US Arctic Research Commission
August 10, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are not in session.

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


Cardin Pushes Human Rights Bill Aimed at Russia. Despite protests from the State Department, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin , D-Md., is pushing ahead with his bill to sanction human rights violators in Russia. He will face headwinds, however, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Chairman John Kerry , D-Mass., is working with the Obama administration to tone down the language of the legislation. "We're working on it," Kerry said shortly before lawmakers left for their August recess, adding that he has been in discussions with both the White House and the State Department on the bill. "It needs a little massaging," Kerry said. Congressional Quarterly


Oil and the Arctic Might Not Mix. Shell Oil's proposal to drill three exploratory wells in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's North Slope received a conditional go-ahead last week from the Obama administration even though the Interior Department has not yet approved the company's plan for responding to a catastrophic oil spill. That plan fails to adequately address many of the harsh realities of drilling in Arctic seas. It's too early for any approval, conditional or otherwise. Exploratory offshore drilling in the Arctic doesn't present the same potential for danger as, say, BP's offshore rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The hazards of drilling in the Arctic are quite different and in ways worse. LA Times 


Arctic Ocean to Lose Ice Faster Than Predicted: Scientist. New research from the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology says the most recent global climate report "fails to capture trends in Arctic sea-ice thinning and drift," and in some cases "substantially underestimates these trends." The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report, released in 2007, forecast an ice-free Arctic summer by 2100. NUNATSIAQ ONLINE


Interior Department Questions Monnett on Polar Bear Article-Again. Federal polar bear iceinvestigators questioned a suspended veteran Arctic scientist for a second time on Tuesday and continued to focus on a 2006 article he'd written about drowned polar bears, according to the employee support group that is representing him.The suspension of Charles Monnett reverberated through media outlets and Internet blogs a few weeks ago when Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility alleged in a complaint filed with the Interior Department that the disciplinary action was nothing more than a political witch hunt wrapped up in the broader debate over oil and gas development in the Arctic. The article published by Monnett and Jeffrey Gleason, who were at the time scientists with the former Minerals Management Service, galvanized public attention on climate change and raised questions of whether polar bears were drowning due to disappearing sea ice, a casualty of global warming. Alaska Dispatch


Climate Forecasting Models Aren't Pretty, and They Aren't Smart. [Commentary] Anyone who says they can confidently predict global climate changes or effects is either a fool or a fraud.  No one can even forecast global, national or regional weather conditions that will occur months or years into the future, much less climate shifts that will be realized over decadal, centennial and longer periods. Nevertheless, this broadly recognized limitation has not dissuaded doomsday prognostications that have prompted incalculably costly global energy and environmental policies. Such postulations attach great credence to computer models and speculative interpretations that have no demonstrated accuracy. Forbes


Arkhangelsk Up for a Deep-Water Port. Arkhangelsk is reporting plans to construct a deep-water sea port in Sukhoye More bay of the White Sea. The new port is believed to become a crucial link in logistics system and to develop Russia's foreign trade transportation. The port will also contribute to development of Northern Sea Route, say Arkhangelsk authorities.  Barents Nova

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.


Future Events                     


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 exchanging practical experience in construction and maintenance of engineering structures on frozen ground. For additional information, please contact Lilia Prokopieva. 


Northern Research Forum 6th Open Assembly, September 4-6, 2011. "Our Ice Dependent World," organized by the Northern Research Forum and its partners as the Northern Research Forum 6th Open Assembly, will be hosted by the University of Akureyri in the town of Hverager