Arctic Update Header
December 28, 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 29th. Daily distribution will resume on January 4th. 

Media Reviewtodaysevents 


Oil Drilling in AlaskaNOAA Seeks Comment 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 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. The Maritime Executive 


Russian Icebreaker Tanker Renda. Since last Wed. Dec. 21, the NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator has been meeting daily with U.S. Coast Guard District personnel (Juneau, AK) and from the NOAA NWS Alaska office to plan for and to monitor the Russian icebreaker tanker, as it gradually makes it way to Nome, Alaska, through 300 miles of the Bering Sea ice pack to make a crucial delivery of winter fuel. No spill; just an extremely engaging, but potentially risky marine event. NOAA Incident News 


ringsealScientists Test Sick Alaska Seals for Radiation. Scientists in Alaska are investigating whether local seals are being sickened by radiation from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Scores of ring seals have washed up on Alaska's Arctic coastline since July, suffering or killed by a mysterious disease marked by bleeding lesions on the hind flippers, irritated skin around the nose and eyes and patchy hair loss on the animals' fur coats. Biologists at first thought the seals were suffering from a virus, but they have so far been unable to identify one, and tests are now underway to find out if radiation is a factor. Environmental News Network 


russian flagRussian Troops Above America's Border: Canada's 'Red Dawn' moment? [Editorial/Blog] In August 2007, at the end of a series of war games uniting China and Russia, the Russians planted their flag at the North Pole, that singular place on earth where the world's axis seems to align itself with the North Star. The planting of the flag was a Sputnik moment, but underwater. Its purpose was to territorialize our northern regions as surely as a dog of war would pee on the frozen tundra to ward off Canadian coyotes. It should have been, but President George W. Bush, his imagination full of visions of Armageddon in the Holy Land conjured by Appalachian mountain preachers, missed it. Presidential hopefuls, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in particular, should not. Until recently, threats to America via the splendid isolation of the Arctic seemed absurd. But now it is reported that Russia intends to send a combat brigade. The Hill 


Yukon Permafrost Yield Answers to Mysteries: Discoveries show that many Ice Age mammals survived longer than previously thought. University of Alberta scientist Duane Fro-ese was on sabbatical when he received a call from a Yukon miner who wanted to give him the tip about a site he planned to excavate. Like most Klondike miners, Tony Beets is a character. He's tall, bushy-haired, drives fast and uses colourful language. But he'd also been incredibly helpful over the years, moving in heavy equipment for scientists such as Froese, exposing layers of ancient permafrost that yielded the frozen bones of woolly mammoths, scimitar cats, short-faced bears and other animals that lived in this part of the world before the last major Ice Age ended 11,500 years ago. Vancouver Sun


Canada-US flagsUS- Canada Arctic Ocean Partnership Leads to Better Data. A recent mission marked the completion of a five-year collaboration between the United States and Canada to survey the Arctic Ocean. The bilateral project collected scientific data to delineate the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the coastline, also known as the extended continental shelf (ECS). According to Deborah Hutchinson, PhD, geologist with the USGS and US science lead and liaison on board CCG Ship Louis S. St-Laurent, the amount and quality of the data collected as part of these joint Arctic missions met, and often exceeded, the expectations set each year. Hydro International 


US Needs to Act as Melting Ice Transforms Arctic. Santa Claus may see you when you're sleeping, but NORAD makes sure it sees Santa pretty much 'round the clock. The North American Aerospace Defense Command not only follows Saint Nick's sleigh ride with its famous NORAD Tracks Santa site, but it is also involved in a struggle over resources, border control and broader military presence right in Santa's vast and magnificent home: the Arctic. In April, President Obama signed a new command plan that gives NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command greater responsibility in protecting the North Pole and U.S. Arctic territory. The Arctic region -- covering more than 30 million square kilometers and stretching around the territorial borders of Canada, Denmark (via Greenland), Norway, Russia and the United States by way of the Alaska coastline -- is transforming before our eyes. And not just because the ice is melting. It's increasingly the site of military posturing, and the United States isn't keeping up with the rest of the world. Anchorage Daily News


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.

USARC header

Find us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter 

4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 510
Arlington, VA 22203, USA 
(703) 525-0111 (phone)