Arctic Update Header
December 22, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate will not hold formal sessions, subject to the call of the chairs.


Happy Holidays from the USARC. Over the next two weeks, the "Daily Arctic Update" will be distributed only on December 28th and 29th. Daily distribution will resume on January 4th. 

Media Reviewtodaysevents 


canadian flagCanada Well Behind Russia in Race to Claim Arctic Seaways and Territory. An Arctic winter storm is a vision of terror for seamen: hurricane force winds battering heaving decks encased in thick ice, an ordeal that can drag on for days cloaked in darkness. So far north, rescue teams are usually a very distant hope. The sinking of a Russian oil rig Sunday in a howling gale off the coast of Sakhalin, on Russia's Far East coast, left 53 crew members confirmed dead or lost at sea, and added a new chapter to the harrowing lore of Arctic navigation. The Toronto Star 


Russia Oil Spill Wreak Devastation. On the bright yellow tundra outside this oil town near the Arctic Circle, a pitch-black pool of crude stretches toward the horizon. The source: a decommissioned well whose rusty screws ooze with oil, viscous like jam. Environmentalists estimate at least 1 percent of Russia's annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year. That is equivalent to one Deepwater Horizon-scale leak about every two months. Crumbling infrastructure and a harsh climate combine to spell disaster in the world's largest oil producer, responsible for 13 percent of global output. The Boston


Russian Icebreaker, Coast Guard Cutter aim to cut path to Nome. The city of Nome announced on Wednesday that plans have firmed up for a Russian tanker to deliver 1.5 million gallons of petroleum products to the ice-encased city at the end of the Iditarod Trail early next month. Nome Mayor Denise Michels said the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy will assist by helping break ice for some 300 miles from the ice edge to Nome, extending the mission of the Seattle-based ship by a month. Alaska Dispatch


president signingPresident Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts. Yesterday, President Obama announced his intention to nominate several people to the President's Committee on the National Medal of Science, including: Margaret Murnane, Judith Kimble, and Henry Yang. The White House 






Protecting American Families and the Environment from Mercury Pollution. [Blog] Today marks yet another historic day in the Obama Administration's efforts to protect the health of American families and our environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized the first-ever national standards to reduce mercury and other toxic air emissions - like arsenic, acid gas, and cyanide - from power plants, which are the largest sources of this pollution in the United States. The White House 


NOAANOAA Seeks Comments on Draft Environmental Impact Statement on Arctic Oil and Gas Exploration. NOAA is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement describing how offshore oil and gas activities in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi seas could affect marine mammals and the Alaska Native communities that depend on them for subsistence. The document also examines measures to lessen potential effects. The draft EIS, released today, looks at measures NOAA could adopt over the next five years as it issues incidental take authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the area. The EIS will also contribute to decisions made by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on issuing permits for seismic surveys. NOAA


NarwhaleNarwhals: the new baby seals. Narwhals may be the next environmental poster mammal, and the Inuit aren't going to like it. Narwhals made a surprise appearance this year at Cambridge Bay, on the south coast of Victoria Island in Canada's High Arctic. The whales, famous for the single, spiralling tusk sported by the adult males, don't usually venture that far west. So when dozens of them showed up offshore in late August, the mostly Inuit community of about 1,500 rejoiced. Hunters took to their boats with rifles and harpoons, and landed about 10. Fresh muktuk-the vitamin-rich outer layer of skin and blubber-was, as old ways dictate, widely shared. And photos of smiling hunters posing by dead narwhals were, as contemporary culture demands, posted on Facebook. That social-media celebration of hunter-gatherer tradition might suggest that narwhal hunting is fitting in surprisingly well in the 21st century. But Inuit groups and federal officials are bracing for international scrutiny of the killing of about 500 of these photogenic marine mammals every year. Unless Canada can prove they are being protected, outcry from abroad is all but certain to become an issue. "Things may not have changed for the people living in the North," says Steve Ferguson, a federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist, "but there's a lot more worldwide attention being given to Arctic mammals." Macleans  


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events                                   


Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 16-20, 2012. The symposium was first held in 2002 to connect scientists in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond in an effort to collaborate and communicate on research


activities in the marine regions off Alaska. There will be plenary and poster sessions featuring a broad spectrum of ocean science on issues of climate, oceanography, lower trophic levels, the benthos, fish and invertebrates, seabirds, marine mammals, local and traditional knowledge, and socioeconomic research. There will also be speakers, workshops and special sessions.


Workshop: Responding to Arctic Environmental Change: Translating Our Growing Understanding into a Research Agenda for Action Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2012.   Queen's University, Kingston, Canada. Co-sponsored by International Study of ArcISAC logotic Change (ISAC) and the School of Policy Studies at Queen's University. Endorsed by the International Arctic Science Committee, this workshop is the first in a planned series of meetings that aim to collectively shape and coordinate initiatives for research that directly addresses the needs of stakeholders who are affected by change or who are addressing arctic environmental change. The long-term objective is to enable local people, the arctic nations and the wider global community, including the scientific community, to better respond to a changing Arctic. This workshop is a pre-IPY 2012 Conference event. It is intended to develop a science plan that will feed into and further evolve at IPY 2012 Conference "From Knowledge to Action". For more information and to register for the workshop go here. 


Arctic Science Summit Week 2012, April 20-22, 2012. The summit will provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in all areas of Arctic science. Side meetings organized by stakeholders in arctic science and policy are also expected. More information to follow. 


From Knowledge to Action, April 22-27, 2012. The conference will bring together over 2,000 Arctic and Antarctic researchers, policy and decision-makers, and a broad range of interested parties from academia, industry, non-government, education and circumpolar communities including indigenous peoples. The conference is hosted by the Canadian IPY Program Office, in partnership with the National Research Council of Canada, among other groups. Each day of the conference will feature a program of keynote speakers, plenary panel discussions, parallel science sessions, as well as dedicated poster sessions. The conference-wide plenaries will explore themes related to topics of polar change, global linkages, communities and health, ecosystem services, infrastructure, resources and security. Other sessions will provide the opportunity to present and discuss the application of research findings, policy implications and how to take polar knowledge to action. 


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.  


The Arctic Imperative Summit, July 29-August 1, 2012. The summit will be hosted by Alaska Dispatch and will bring together leading voices in this conversation, including residents from the small villages that comprise Alaska's coastal communities, state, national and international leaders, the heads of shipping and industry, as well as international policymakers and the news media. The goal of the summit is to sharpen the focus on the policy and investment needs of Alaska's Arctic through a series of high level meetings, presentations, investor roundtables and original research.


15th International Congress on Circumpolar Health, 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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