US Arctic Research Commission
January 11, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents


Operating on a schedule changed in response to the Jan. 8 shooting in Arizona, the House meets in a pro forma session with no votes expected. A Wednesday vote is scheduled on a resolution regarding the shooting; action on repeal of the health care law has been postponed, possibly to next week. The Senate is in recess until Jan. 25.

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


Oil Spill Panel Calls for Drilling Reform. A bipartisan commission, including UA'sFranUlmer Fran Ulmer, appointed by President Obama to investigate last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill is set to recommend a higher liability level for companies involved in a spill, more time for federal regulators to review drilling permits and a host of other ways to update federal and industry safety and oversight. The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling is keeping details of the roughly 300-page, 10-chapter report close to the vest ahead of Tuesday's 10 a.m. public rollout. Politico


Coast Guard Struggles to Find Volunteers for Oil Spill Training. The Canadian Coast Guard now has oil spill kits in place in 15 communities across the territory, but training on how to use the equipment remains a challenge. "It's about getting people engaged and volunteering for this type of training and we're running up against a bit of a lack of availability," said Larry Trigatti, coast guard superintendent of environmental response in the central and Arctic region. The last of the oil spill kits or "Arctic community packs" was delivered at the beginning of October. Northern News Services

Using Narwhals to Gauge Climate Change. Emerging from icy Arctic waters, Narwhalenarwhals, with their unicorn-like teeth, have captured the imagination of researchers and explorers for centuries. Not only do they have that impressive six- to nine-foot tusk, but they also dive as deep as 4,500 feet and plunge below the surface as many as 24 times a day for half an hour at a time, making them the perfect species to collect ocean temperatures. And that's exactly what they're providing scientists, allowing researchers to draw critical conclusions about our warming seas. Audubon Magazine

Spill Panel Pushes Liability Cap: Congress Has Balked at Lifting Industry Exposure; Bigger Safety Focus on Arctic. Congress should raise the cap on oil companies' liability for offshore spills and improve the U.S. Coast Guard's ability to respond to spills in the Arctic, a presidential panel is set to conclude Tuesday. The panel's report, which could influence federal policy on offshore drilling, is also expected to recommend that as much as 80% of fines paid by companies for Clean Water Act violations in connection with last spring's Deepwater Horizon accident go toward funding the long-term restoration of the Gulf Coast's ecosystem, according to people familiar with the report.  Wall Street Journal


US Slow to Protect Arctic Interests. U.S. reaction to the opening of arctic sea lanes and access to seabed resources as global warming reduces ice in the region is slow and inadequate, experts say. The Obama administration considers the arctic an area of key strategic interest, and the U.S. military expects the arctic will become "ice-free" for several weeks each summer, possibly as early as 2013. However, military and civilian resources needed to successfully operate there are lacking and there are few indications of any significant changes coming.UPI


NOAA's Regional Navigation Managers to Meet with Maritime Community. As "ambassadors" to the nation's maritime community, the 12 regional navigation managers of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey understand the value and economic importance of America's maritime transportation system. In early 2011, they will conduct extensive outreach to better understand emerging requirements and ensure that NOAA's products and services promote the safe and efficient movement of U.S. exports and commerce. In addition, the navigation manager for Alaska will participate in a planning meeting on January 13 to explore NOAA's role in the interagency effort to relocate the native village of Newtok to its new site on Nelson Island. The village's original location is deteriorating due to severe erosion and flooding. NOAA

On the lighter side...The first 5 people to correctly identify all five scientists in this photo will win a USARC pen or a patch (your choice, see below). If the year and the approximate location are also identified, the contestant will receive both prizes. Send entries to 

Photo from Pat Webber archives.


Legislative Actionfutureevents


No Arctic-related legislation was formally considered yesterday.


Future Eventsfutureevents

Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 17-21. Within each theme (Bering AMSS 2011 promoSea, Arctic Ocean, and Gulf of Alaska), presenters will discuss climate, oceanography, lower trophic levels, the benthos, fish and invertebrates, seabirds, marine mammals, local and traditional knowledge, and socioeconomic research.
National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment, January 19-21. One of the conference themes is "White Arctic/Blue Arctic." This theme will address ice changes in the Arctic to consider several questions: What does science tell us about the future of the Arctic? How would issues about the future - white or blue - be resolved? What models and monitoring data will be required to support an emerging management regime that would allow for sustainable use of the Arctic? How can use of the Arctic and its resources be managed in the face of these possibilities?

95th meeting of the USARC, Jan. 21, Anchorage. The USARC will meet in the usarc logo smallQuadrant room of the Captain Cook Hotel, starting at 8:30 am. A detailed agenda is now available at

Public Forum on Natural Gas Markets, January 22. The federal coordinator's office for the Alaska natural gas pipeline will sponsor a public forum on gas markets Jan. 22 to help Alaskans better understand the supply-and-demand fundamentals affecting the proposed pipeline project. The Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects will bring to Alaska several national experts on Lower 48 supply and demand issues including shale gas, the effect of federal clean air regulations on natural gas demand, and foreign markets for liquefied natural gas. Panelists


Arctic Tipping Points, January 23-29, 2011. Arctic Frontiers will host a conferenceseesaw considering the following topics: Ice-ocean-atmosphere interactions in the Arctic;  Marine ecosystems and fisheries; Socioeconomic and institutional perspectives; and People of the North.
President's Budget, February 7. By statute, the president is required to submit his annual budget proposal to Congress by the first Monday in February.
Arctic Technology Conference, February 7-9, 2011. The Arctic is one of the few places on the globe which still holds enormous new petroleum reserve potential. A recently completed USGS survey estimated that 20% of the world's remaining reserves were trapped beneath the Arctic Circle. OTC's inaugural Arctic Technology Conference (ATC), 7-9 February 2011 in Houston, Texas, will be a truly global event focused on the cutting-edge technologies and innovative practices needed for exploration and production in the Arctic.

International Conference on Arctic Marine Science, International Law and Climate Protection, March 17-18. The German Federal Foreign Office is hosting an event that will take place on the Berlin premises of the Federal Office. The event is co-hosted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, with additional support from prominent research institutes. The Conference will discuss the legal framework for marine scientific research in the Arctic Ocean at present and in the future. Scholars, scientists and diplomats with an interest in the Arctic Ocean are invited to attend. For more information, please contact

Arctic Dialogue & Study Tour, March 22-24, 2011. For the past four years Norway's Bod