US Arctic Research Commission
January 19, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents


The House is in session and expected to consider legislation to repeal the 2010 health care overhaul law. Senate is in recess.


Gov. Sean Parnell will be giving his annual State of the State address at 7 p.m. (AST) tonight in the Alaska House chamber. Gavel to Gavel Alaska will stream the speech online.

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.

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


Heard on the Hill: Overhead on the Hill. "Just say no to Frankenfish."- Sen. Mark Begich, speaking at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Alaska, according to a press release. The Alaska Democrat plans during this session of Congress to reintroduce his legislation banning "Frankenfish," which are genetically engineered salmon. Roll Call


Begich to Reintroduce Legislation Banning "Frankenfish:" Address to Marine Science Symposium Includes Legislative Priority. Recognizing the harm that could be done to Alaska's wild salmon stock and fishing industry, U.S. Sen. Mark frankenfishBegich today announced he will reintroduce his legislation to ban genetically-engineered salmon. Speaking to the Marine Science Symposium at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Begich said one of his top priorities this Congress is legislation to stop the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from approving the sale of genetically-engineered (GE) fish for human consumption. "Many call them "Frankenfish" for good reasons: a monster that threatens our wild stocks and their habitat, our food safety, and economic harm to Alaska wild salmon fishermen," Begich told the symposium.  Senator Mark Begich


GOP Rejects Prospect of a Government Shutdown Over Spending Debate. Republicans are playing down talk that fights with the White House over spending cuts could lead to a government shutdown. "It is not something that I ever envision happening," said Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), the chairman of the House Appropriations Transportation subcommittee and a close ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). "We've been clear all along: Our goal is cutting government spending to help create jobs - not shutting down the government," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner. The Hill


New House Budget Rules Could Cause Problems in the Senate. Conflicting House and Senate budget rules could complicate negotiations on budget and spending legislation, even as both parties call for fiscal discipline. Broadly speaking, the GOP-written House budgetary rules make it more difficult to raise spending and easier to cut taxes. With those rules in hand, House Republicans are aiming at a larger goal: reducing the size and scope of government through deep budget cuts for federal agencies and slowing the growth of mandatory spending. But the Democratic Senate is likely to balk at any sharp reductions in government spending, and Senate rules are more flexible when it comes to spending increases and favor tax cuts that are offset. Many Democrats also see a tax increase as a necessary step to getting the deficit under control. Congressional Quarterly


Loss of Reflectivity in the Arctic Doubles Estimate of Climate Models. A new analysis of the Northern Hemisphere's "albedo feedback" over a 30-year period concludes that the region's loss of reflectivity due to snow and sea ice decline is more than double what state-of-the-art climate models estimate. Science Daily


Arctic Sea Ice Controls the Release of Mercury. A French-American team, including researchers from CNRS, IRD, the UniversitÚ Paul Sabatier and the UniversitÚ de Pau (1), has recently highlighted a new role that sea-ice plays in the mercury cycle in the  Arctic. By blocking sunlight, sea-ice could influence the breakdown and transfer into the atmosphere of toxic forms of mercury present in the surface waters of the Arctic Ocean. These results, which suggest that climate plays a key role in the mercury cycle and that the release of mercury into the atmosphere could be accentuated by the melting of Arctic sea-ice, are published in the journal Nature Geoscience (February issue). Science Daily 


Too Little Ice Could be Adding to Global Warming. This story may be a little hard to believe, especially a day after most kids had a day off from school because of ice, but here goes: Scientists are reporting that the shrinking ice and snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is adding to the problem of global warming in a way that they had not anticipated. Arctic sea ice, glaciers and snow are reflecting less energy back to space than they were 30 years ago, according to a University of Michigan study. Scientists say that what was once covered in ice and snow is now land and water, which are darker and absorb more heat than the white ice. As a result, the amount of solar energy being reflected to the Earth's upper atmosphere has decreased since the late 1970s. Washington Post


2011: What Does the New Year Hold for Indian Country? What does the year 2011 hold for the Indian tribes? There are some signals-portents, if you will, that should be considered in assessing the immediate future in federal policy and programs. First of all, did the takeover of the House by the Republicans, aided by a massive pseudo-populist surge called the Tea Party movement, mark the end of a lengthy Indian era and the beginning of an unfriendly Congress or even another anti-tribal backlash? Among the people who are "going rogue" with Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement are some, perhaps many, who resent tribal sovereignty and concomitant entitlement to federal funds. The Tea Party has rallied around the issue of the federal deficit and the burgeoning national debt, and it would likely pick up on President Obama's generous allocation of stimulus funds to the tribes. Indian Country Today


Whale of an Issue: Biologist explains Cook Inlet critical habitat. A biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service tried to ease concerns area industry leaders might have over the federal agency's proposed critical habitat designation for endangered beluga whales in Cook Inlet.  Brad Smith, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries service, spoke to the proposed designation and what it could mean for future development projects at the Industrial Outlook Forum in Kenai last week. Peninsula Clarion

Legislative Actionfutureevents

No Arctic-related legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Eventsfutureevents

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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