US Arctic Research Commission
January 3, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents


New Congress, January 3. The 112th Congress begins. 

Media Reviewtodaysevents


Issa: Oversight Committee Will Target "Wasteful Spending." Incoming Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa said Sunday that during the 112th Congress he will use his position to try to identify about $200 billion in wasteful spending. "I'm looking at about $200 billion as the amount we can either identify and eliminate the waste or at least begin the process," the California Republican said on CBS' "Face the Nation." Roll Call

Out with the Old, In With the New in the Senate as Congress Set to Reconvene. That influx of fresh faces means the 112th Congress will begin with a notably inexperienced group of senators. More than one-fifth of the upper chamber's 100 seats changed hands over the last two years. Three states - Delaware, Illinois and West Virginia - saw their seats turn over twice. Only about a dozen seats had changed hands in each of the previous two Senates. To find more turnover, one has to go back to the 79th Congress of 1945-47 in which 14 members were appointed to fill Senate vacancies. The Hill

Murkowski Will Retain Ranking GOP Spot at Senate Energy. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, certified Thursday as the winner of the Alaska Senate race, is expected to easily retain her post as ranking minority member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the 112th Congress. "We don't expect any challenges," Murkowski spokesman Robert Dillon said. On Dec. 28, a federal judge tossed out Republican candidate Joe Miller's legal bid to overturn the results of the Nov. 2 election, which Murkowski won through a write-in campaign after losing to Miller in the August GOP primary. Two days later, state officials certified Murkowski as the winner by 10,252 votes. The certification was signed by Gov. Sean Parnell and witnessed by Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. Congressional Quarterly

GOP Opts for Spending 'Lockbox' in New House Rules. Republicans introduced their planned revisions to House rules late Wednesday, including a potentially significant new tool for deficit reduction that had been opposed by some GOP appropriators. As late as Wednesday afternoon, Republicans were unsure whether they would go ahead with the so-called "deficit reduction lockbox." Having done so, they are sure to please many fiscal conservatives but anger some members of the House Appropriations Committee who had argued against making major changes to the existing budget process. Congressional Quarterly

Let Science Inform Arctic Drilling Decisions. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar must not back away from a pledge to seek out the best science and research before making decisions on oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean. The wisdom of not rushing into a fragile environment is summed up in two words: Deepwater Horizon. After the epic disaster in the Gulf last April, Salazar said the best environmental information available would guide future offshore-drilling pursuits. Science would inform decisions on oil and gas development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, Salazar announced. Seattle Times

Scientists Hunt for Ice Cover Timeline: Another Record Thaw Prompts Study into Environment's Behavior Since 1750. The recent record-setting retreat of Arctic sea ice has prompted separate research projects in Britain and the United States aimed at reconstructing the region's historical ice record -- from the 18th century age of sail to the dawn of the satellite era in the 1960s. A team of British researchers, set to embark on a three-year probe of archived ship logs from 1750 to 1850, intends to create a composite picture of Arctic ice cover from the journal entries of polar explorers such as William Parry, whose voyages to northern Canada in the 1820s added new Arctic islands to the world map and significantly furthered the quest to discover the Northwest Passage. Vancouver Sun

Federal Dollars to Finance Center, Boat Launch in Barrow. $600,000 will help the town build a new boat launch at North Salt Lagoon, giving subsistence fishermen safe access to the Arctic Ocean. The project will also include dredging work and tie-up space for boats. It's scheduled to be completed by summer 2012. Anchorage Daily News

Inuit Lives and Diets Changes as Ice Shifts. Climate change is altering diets and lifestyles among Inuit people, according to a scientist who has studied the human face of global warming in the Arctic. Barry Smit, a professor at the University of Guelph, Canada, has spent five years leading research projects into how melting ice and changes in wildlife habits are impacting the lives and livelihoods of far northern communities. Among his most striking findings was that increasing difficulty in hunting for traditional food was leading to much more junk food in the Inuit diet. CNN

Environmentalists Say Polar Bears Off Alaska at Risk. Polar bears are in trouble. Experts say if nothing changes, polar bears could disappear during the current century. The experts point to a loss of habitat; Arctic ice is melting. And there's a buildup of toxic substances in the polar bears' food. Now, polar bears find themselves at the core of an environmental debate. While new offshore gas and oil exploration is planned closer to the bears, the U.S. government is preparing to enforce regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and greater protection of the nation's wilderness. Scientists increasingly worry that the polar bear will not survive. Voice of America

Shell Pushes Forward to Drill Well in Arctic. The Deepwater Horizon accident last April put a halt to offshore drilling - not just in the Gulf of Mexico but in Alaska, too. Despite that, Shell is pushing ahead with plans to drill an exploratory well in the Arctic Ocean, in the Beaufort Sea off the north coast of Alaska. The company has spent more than $3.5 billion on federal leases and preparations to drill in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. So far, that investment hasn't returned a single dollar. Lawsuits by environmental groups and Alaska native communities forced the company to scale back drilling plans in the Chukchi. Now, Shell is focused on an exploratory well in the Beaufort. The company hopes to drill this summer after the ice clears. Shell officials hope to demonstrate that the company is prepared to drill responsibly and it's ready to clean up an oil spill if something goes wrong. NPR


Polar Bears Have Highest Levels of Toxic Pollutant of Any Creature. Polar bears have one of the highest levels of toxic pollutants of any creature - despite living thousands of miles from civilization, research shows. Although they live in the Arctic wilderness, the bears were found to have high levels of pollution because of the toxic food chain, scientists say. This is because industrial pollution from Europe, America and Asia is dispersed by air and ocean currents and concentrated over the Arctic. The smaller animals are all affected by the chemicals, but this is magnified as they go up the food chain - ending with the bears, shows research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The Telegraph

Legislative Actionfutureevents

Congress was in recess, and no Arctic-related legislation was 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 will be available at in early January.

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 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.
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 addresses 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 permafrostEngineering (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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