US Arctic Research Commission
August 4, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are not in session.

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


Appropriations is the Next Budget Battle on Horizon. Having just put the debt limit battle behind them, lawmakers face another fiscal skirmish this fall: Current appropriations law expires at the end of September, and members are already thinking about how to avoid another government shutdown cliffhanger. They are also trying to sort out how their work will be affected by a joint committee that will be created to formulate far-reaching plans to combat the budget deficit. Congressional Quarterly


Polar bearGrizzly BearHybrid Grizzly-Polar Bears a Worrisome Sign of the North's Changing Climate. In remote Ulukhaktok, an Inuvialuit community of just a few hundred people on the shores of Victoria Island, a testament to the changing face of the North looms large. Very large. It stands frozen in time, perched on faux-rock with a paw lifted and its jaws open, each at the ready. And yet, something is unusual - its thick, white fur is at odds with its brown legs and paws. And it has a hump, like a grizzly bear. Globe and Mail 


Volcano Watchers Raise Alert Status for Mount Cleveland. Signs of lava at Mount Cleveland prompted volcanologists to raise their alert level Tuesday afternoon for the Aleutian Islands volcano. The Alaska Volcano Observatory reports "heightened or escalated unrest" and the possibility of an eruption at the 5,676-foot volcano, according to the observatory's website. Anchorage Daily News


Big Changes to Nunavut Coastlines Highly Possible: Researcher "The Higher Water is Against the Beach, the Higher the Waves Attack." Rising sea levels will increase coastal hazards for communities in the North and South, warn researchers from a Canada-Caribbean climate adaption project. And, in the North, these rising sea levels are expected to put Arctic infrastructure and travel at risk, they say. NunatsiaqOnline


Ships Sailing in the Arctic Under Pollution Surveillance. Ships sailing in Canada's Arctic this summer are being watched by an aerial patrol to make sure vessels aren't polluting the water with oil or other contaminants. The patrol, which is part of the federal government's National Aerial Surveillance Program, flies over Arctic waters every summer until late-October. Alaska Dispatch 


Near-Record Ice Melt in Arctic Clears Northern Sea Shipping Route. Russia's environmental agency has reported that a near-record rate of Arctic ice melt has opened shipping lanes fit for cargo traffic between Europe and Asia. As of early August, Federal Hydrometeorological and Environmental Monitoring Service said that the Arctic ice cover was declining at a record low, and has opened an expansive area for the Northern Sea Route that would provide largely icebreaker-free shipping.  They are concluding that the ice extent has declined by 56% in many areas leaving the sea open for easy sailing through September.  The ice retreat has the Northern Sea Route over Russia opened earlier than ever before and is making shipping between Europe and the Bering Strait less complicated for this time of year. The Maritime Executive


Three Canadian Navy Ships Join US Coast Guard in Arctic Mission. canadian flagThree Canadian navy ships and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter are being outfitted in St. John's for an extended mission to the Arctic. The Canadian Forces says the frigate HMCS St. John's will be joined by the coastal defence vessels HMCS Moncton and HMCS Summerside, as well as the American coast guard cutter USCGC Willow. The Chronicle Herald


Murkowski Applauds SAFE Report on Directional Drilling in ANWR. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today commended a new report by the group Securing America's Energy Future (SAFE) calling for a real-world test of directional drilling techniques to tap into the estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil contained in the non-wilderness portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). "This is a concept that I have long offered as a reasonable alternative to those who oppose conventional development of the 1002 Area," Murkowski said. "While I still favor responsible production within the coastal plain, this compromise allows us to access much of the resource without the same environmental risk, making it a common sense solution that everyone should be able to embrace." Senator Lisa Murkowski 


WikiLeaks: Nations Plot Arctic Exploitation as Ice Melts. As the ice covering the Arctic disappears at an ever-faster rate (in the past 10 days losing as much as 58,000 square miles of sea ice a day), wreaking havoc on polar bears, arctic foxes and other wildlife, not everyone is focused on the effects of all that melting on rising sea levels or diminishing polar bear habitat. Military strategists in the nations bordering the Arctic Circle are instead eyeing the big melt with a focus on where best to deploy ships, troops, bases and more. According to documents bared by WikiLeaks, the ultimate goal is not necessarily gaining new territory but rather access to resources, specifically the 90 billion barrels of oil and one-third of natural gas reserves on the planet thought to lie beneath the floor of the Arctic Ocean. TakePart


Polar Bear Eating FishCommission Sets Polar Bear Harvest Quota for Russia and U.S. The third meeting of the U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission was held from 27-29 July 2011 in Moscow, Russia, said a press release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The group consists of representatives from the United States and Russian Federation representing federal, state, and Native interests in polar bear conservation and management. The goal of the meeting was to continue implementation of a Bilateral Treaty for the shared Alaska-Chukotka polar bear population, which inhabits the Bering and Chukchi seas. Alaska Dispatch

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?i, Iceland. Addressing the three 'poles' - the Arctic, the Antarctic and the Himalayan region- the sub-themes represent different  perspectives for viewing the subject of natural ice and evaluating its importance.  The event will consider implications of ice melt on humanity, communities, minds, perceptions and knowledge on ice; International law, 'soft law' and governance on ice.


4th International Sea Duck Conference, seaduckconferencelogoSeptember 12-16, 2011. The Sea Duck Joint Venture has helped sponsor a North American Sea Duck Conference once every three years since 2002. These conferences provide opportunities for researchers and managers to share information and research results, conduct workshops on specific issues, and to hold related meetings. The 4th conference will officially be an international conference and will be held in Seward, Alaska, 12-16 September, 2011, with participants from the U.S., Canada, Russia and Europe, focusing on sea ducks in the North and the Arctic. It will be held at the Windsong Lodge, with three days of presentations and workshops, and there will be a chartered boat trip the last day into the Kenai Fjords to watch sea ducks. Registration is available on the website for the conference and the excursion.


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 Fermo

September 20-23, 2011. 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. 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 occurs. 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. Registration forms are available here


Murmansk Arctic Forum, October 1-2, 2011.  Hosted by the Russian Geographic Society, the forum will host discussion on Arctic navigation, development of the Northern Sea Route, railway extensions, and construction of a deep-water port in Arkhangelsk.  The official website is in Russian.


The Arctic in Transition: Regional Issues and Geopolitics, October 3-4, 2011. The conference is organized by the Center for Geopolitical Studies of the Raoul Dandurand Chair, in collaboration with the Centre Jacques Cartier (France), ArcticNet (Universite Laval, Quebec), and the Northern Research Forum (University of the Arctic; University of Lapland, Finland). This high-level international meeting reunites political scientists, lawyers, geographers, historians and practitioners to discuss, first, the socio-economic, political and security issues of developed or developing Arctic regions, and, second, to look at the evolving relationships between these spaces, their peoples, and global affairs. The meeting mainly seeks to adress security issue(s) of the various region(s) that make up the circumpolar world. Three Arctic regions will be highlighted: a) the North-American Arctic (United States (Alaska); Canada (Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut, Nunavik) and Greenland; b) the North Pacific Rim (Alaska, Russian Far East, Beaufort Sea/Chukchi); c) the Barents Euro-Arctic Region (Nordic countries - Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland - and Russia).


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. Details to follow.   


15th International Congress on Circumpolar Heath, August 5-10, 2012. This kivalina girlevent is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Society for Circumpolar Health, and the International Union for Circumpolar Health.  The forum will consider community participatory research and indigenous research; women's health, family health, and well-being; food security and nutrition; social determinants of health; environmental and occupational health; infectious and chronic diseases; climate change-health impacts; health service delivery and infrastructure; and, behavioral health.


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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