US Arctic Research Commission
January 12, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents


Continuing with its abbreviated schedule, the House considers a resolution addressing the Jan. 8 shootings in Arizona. Action on repeal of the health care law, originally scheduled for Wednesday, is postponed. The Senate is in recess until Jan. 25.

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


Small Pack of GOP Senators Dominated Amendments: Coburn Led with 50 votes, eight of which passed. A small, conservative minority of the minority dominated the Senate amendment process during the 111th Congress, with Sen. Tom Coburn responsible for one of every eight amendment votes on the chamber floor. The Oklahoma Republican forced 50 votes on amendments - winning only eight. He and eight others accounted for nearly half of all 389 roll-call votes on amendments over the past two years. The average for the entire 100-Member Senate was just less than four amendments per Senator; however, 22 Senators did not receive any floor votes on their proposals. Roll Call


America COMPETES Reauthorization Bill Signed into Law. Less than a month ago, the bill to reauthorize the expired America COMPETES Act appeared to be going nowhere.  Last week, President Obama signed H.R. 5116 into law. On January 20th of last year, then House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon America Competes Act(D-TN) gaveled the committee's first hearing of the year into order, declaring "This morning we're going to kick off one of the most important efforts of this year to reauthorize our committee's landmark legislation, the America COMPETES Act."  That hearing was followed by many others, and after a series of maneuvers on the House floor, H.R. 5116, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, was passed by the House.  The Senate Commerce, Energy and Transportation Committee approved its version of the bill without dissent in late July, after which no further public action was taken on the bill.  With little notice, a slimmer bill was brought to the Senate floor in mid-December and passed without objection, followed by a 228-130 vote in the House to approve the legislation. American Institute of Physics


White House Oil Spill Panel's Recommendations to Congress. The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, appointed by President Obama, issued a final report on Tuesday recommending congressional action to prevent another accident like last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Congressional Quarterly.

Begich Comments on Deepwater Horizon Commission Report. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich commented on the report of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and its recommendations intended to improve oilfield safety and strengthen protection from and response to future spills. He specifically cited the Commission's recommendations on moving forward on Arctic energy development and was pleased the Commission found a moratorium on development in the Arctic is not justified. Many of the recommendations in the report are similar to those Begich has previously addressed in legislation. Senator Mark Begich


A link to the full report is available here


US Science Academy Report Calls for 'Bipolar' Research: Arctic and Antarctic scientists are urged to share data, ideas and infrastructure. The Arctic and bipolarAntarctic share more than frosty temperatures. Both are experiencing rapid environmental change, and provide sensitive bellwethers for the effects of global warming. Yet scientists studying the ends of the Earth are poles apart in more than just geographical terms, which is hampering research and slowing efforts to understand how ecosystems are responding to climate change. Nature News


CQ Weekly: "Don Young Gets His Groove Back." Alaska Republican Don Young , who lowered his profile during the 111th Congress amid questions about a Justice Department ethics probe, is making a comeback this year. Young, 77, will chair the newly revived House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, which he sees as an opportunity to dive into the issues he loves. "I asked the chairman to resurrect the subcommittee, because I'm actively involved in the whole Native American area," Young says. "I need a platform. I need the ability to be heard to a greater extent on issues that affect Alaska." Congressman Don Young


NOAA: 2010 Tied for Warmest Year on Record. According to NOAA scientists, 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year of the global surface temperature record, beginning in 1880. This was the 34th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th century average. For the contiguous US alone, the 2010 average annual temperature was above normal, resulting in the 23rd warmest year on record. NOAA 


Tom Strickland to Step Down as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's Chief of Staff. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's chief of staff, Tom Strickland, will step down in February after 21 sometimes troubling months at a federal agency that is still reeling from one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history. The announcement today comes days before an oil-spill report is set to be released by President Barack Obama's commission probing the disaster, but Strickland and Salazar told The Denver Post that Strickland's departure was voluntary and that it is in no way indicative of a shake-up in the Interior Department. Denver Post


Alaska's Offshore Drilling Agency Seeks New Leader Amid Controversy. The beleaguered federal agency that oversees offshore oil and gas development in Alaska has launched a nationwide search for a new regional director, setting the stage for potentially significant change that could play a big role in Alaska's economic future.  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement -- formerly part of what used to be known as the Minerals Management Service -- often finds itself in the middle of a political and legal tug-of-war as oil companies and state officials push for more opportunities to explore for oil and gas in the Arctic, development that creates jobs and revenue for both the state and the industry. Alaska Dispatch


Shipping Pollution a Danger to Alaskans Around Bering Sea. With climate change reducing Arctic ice, Aleut and Pribilof people will find themselves living at the crossroads of two shipping lanes -- the Great Circle route to Asia and the fabled Northwest Passage. It also means that those of us living in the Bering Sea region will be increasingly exposed to unprecedented levels of virtually unregulated emissions. Ships in this region are allowed to use high sulfur fuels with 45,000 parts per million (ppm) sulfur -- a much higher level than those set in most U.S. waters of 10,000 ppm sulfur content for the majority of bulk fuel blends. Alaska Dispatch


Acting Director Takes Over for Ocean Energy Division. James Kendall has been Kendallselected to serve as the acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement's Alaska Outer Continental Shelf Region. Kendall took over his new duties beginning Jan. 1. Anchorage Daily News  

Legislative Actionfutureevents

H.R. 261, to amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to prohibit the leasing of any area of the outer Continental Shelf for the exploration, development, or production of oil, gas, or any other mineral.

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. 

State of the Union, January 25.  The President will address a joint session of Congress to present the State of the Union.


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? University Graduate School of Business, the High North Centre for Business and Governance (affiliated with the University), the International Institute of Energy Politics and Diplomacy (MIEP) at MGIMO University in Moscow, Russia, and HBW Resources have hosted an annual Arctic Dialogue and Study Tour.  The tour brings together stakeholders from all Arctic nations (government, industries, academic, native and local peoples) to discuss issues involving resource development in the Arctic, share common experiences, best practices and solutions. For more information contact Andrew Browning.


Arctic Science Summit Week, Seoul, March 28-April 1, 2011. The purpose of Korean Flagthe Arctic Science Summit Week is to provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in all fields of Arctic science. The Arctic Science Week 2011 is supported by the Korean government, the Korean Research Council of Fundamental Science & Technology, and the Seoul Tourism Organization, among other groups.

The Arctic as a Messenger for Global Processes- Climate Change and Pollution, May 4-6, 2011. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), the University of Copenhagen, and Aarhus University. The conference will include talks by invited keynote speakers, oral presentations selected on the basis of submitted abstracts, poster presentations, and short oral presentations of selected posters. A panel discussion will develop messages to be communicated to the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting that will take place in Greenland one week after the conference. 

Sixth International Conference on Arctic Margins, May 31-June 2, 2011 at the University of Alaska - Fairbanks.  The International Conference on Arctic Margins (ICAM) will examine current geological and geophysical research on the Arctic. Topics include: hydrocarbon potential and gas hydrates; science issues relating to UNCLOS Article 76; geodynamic significance of Arctic magmatism; vertical motions in the Arctic, tectonic, and glacial; geology and palaeogeography of the Arctic continental margins; evolution of the Arctic Ocean basins, including plate reconstructions, magmatism, and sedimentology; modern Arctic environments, including geological, climatic, and oceanographic processes; recent advances in Arctic research technology. More information email.
7th Congress of the International Arctic Social Sciences, June 22-26, 2011The 7th Congress, "Circumpolar Perspectives in Global Dialogue: Social Sciences Beyond the IPY," will be held in Akureyri, Iceland. The International Congress of the Arctic Social Sciences is held every three years. 
Holocene Glacier Variability from the Tropics to the Poles, July 20-27, 2011. Glaciers respond sensitively to climate change. Recent (Holocene) glacier fluctuations are a valuable proxy for terrestrial interglacial paleoclimate conditions. A main challenge for interpreting paleoclimate from past mountain glacier extents is distinguishing local and regional patterns from global signals. Reconstructing Holocene glacier extents involves many disciplines including terrestrial and marine geology, geochronology and glaciology. Organizers hope to facilitate an inter-hemispheric comparison of glacier records including locations in the Tropics, European Alps, American Cordillera, Southern Alps of New Zealand, Himalaya and Polar Regions and to identify future research questions and directions. For additional information contact: Meredith Kelly.
13th Arctic Ungulates Conference (AUC), August 22-26, 2011. The theme of the conference will be "Challenges of Managing Northern Ungulates." The theme Muskokaddresses 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 i s to provide a forum for discussion of permafrost engineering issues, as well as for exchange of practical experience in construction and maintenance of engineering structures on frozen ground. For additional information, please contact Lilia Prokopieva.
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.


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.  More details to follow.

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