US Arctic Research Commission
July 19, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will continue work on the Military Construction-Veterans' Affairs spending bill. Debt limit negotiations continue behind the scenes. The House is expected to vote on several, largely symbolic measures to cut and cap federal spending.

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


Reid: Saturday Workdays for Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid harry reid (D-Nev.) on Monday said the Senate would work weekends until Congress and the White House reach a deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. House leaders offered no new announcements on Monday about their own schedules, but sources said congressional leaders were prepared to keep lawmakers in session through the beginning of the August recess if negotiators fail to reach a deal. The Hill  


Chinese Analysts Urge Greater Presence in Arctic Ocean. Chinese researchers say the nation should move quickly to avoid being left Chinaflag behind in an escalating race for natural resources and trade routes in the Arctic Ocean. Zhang Xia, director of strategic studies at the Polar Research Institute of China, is quoted in the Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper Tuesday as saying China lags behind other countries in terms of Arctic exploration and scientific research. Quoting a 2008 study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Global Times says the Arctic Circle holds an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered but reachable oil, and more than 45 trillion cubic meters of reachable natural gas. Voice of America  


Harper Gears Up for Another Round of Arctic Chest-Thumping. Next month, as he has every summer since becoming Prime Minister, Stephen Harper will travel to the Arctic, trumpeting his Conservative government's resolve to assert Canadian sovereignty in the Far North against all comers. Little of what he says will accord with reality. But it will all make for splendid political theatre, which is the whole point. Globe and Mail  


Oilsands Activity Blamed for Caribou Decline. Humans, not wolves, caribou are behind declining caribou populations in Alberta's oilsands region, an analysis of animal feces shows. The same research also found there may be many more caribou in the region than previously thought, meaning there may still be time for industry to change how it does business without resorting to wolf culls to protect the herds. CBC News  


The Week Ahead: Senate Energy Panel to Consider Offshore Drilling-Safety Bill. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote this week on legislation aimed at overhauling offshore drilling-safety rules more than a year after BP's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) floated the legislation, which would stiffen penalties, strengthen well blowout-prevention standards and increase offshore inspections, in May. The Hill  


North Slope Pipeline Breaks, Spills during pressure testing. State environmental officials are investigating why a pipeline on Alaska's North Slope operated by BP ruptured early Saturday during a pressure test. Workers in nearby buildings felt the ground shake from the force of the underground line break, Tom DeRuyter, on-scene coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said Sunday. Anchorage Daily News  


As Arctic Ice Shrinks, Pacific Species Invade Atlantic, Causing Ecological 'Tumult.' The largest species invasion in over 2 million years is now underway as Arctic ice cover melts and shrinks, permitting a freer exchange of species between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.  Dire and dramatic consequences for Atlantic biodiversity are predicted. Planet Save  


Study: More Polar Bear Cubs Drowning Due to Sea Ice Loss. Biologists polar bear ice studying polar bears off the coast of Alaska have found that when cubs are forced to go on marathon swims with their mothers due to loss of sea ice, nearly half of them don't survive the journey. The study, scheduled to be announced at the International Bear Association Conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, confirms the dangers of ice loss to Alaska's polar bear population. It's been widely theorized that adult polar bears have been forced to cross ever-longer stretches of open ocean as the polar regions heat up. On Earth  


UT and MIT Forge Partnership to Study Risky Energy Exploration. To feed its Oil Drilling in Alaska energy demands, the United States is looking for energy in increasingly far-flung environments such as: Ultra-deep offshore oil wells, the Arctic, and shale rock formations 20,000 feet underground. The risks involved are often greater, but the industry lacks a set of "best practices" for these new frontiers of energy exploration. That's a need that researchers at the University of Texas and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hope to fill. Scientists at both colleges are teaming up to create some guidelines for industry. Their focus would range from guiding principles to government policies to the engineering needs required to reduce environmental impact. KUT News  

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.R. 2018, Clean Water Cooperation Federalism Act (Mica- placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar)


H.R. 2354, Making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012 (Frelinghuysen- referred to Senate committee) 

Future Events                    


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.


Brown Bag Town Hall , July 21, 2011. Senator Murkowski will hold a "Brown Bag Town Hall" to discuss issues such as the budget, appropriations, military operations, Arctic issues, and energy development. The town hall will be conducted via Twitter.


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  Engineering (Harbin, China) will host the Ninth International Symposium on  Permafrost Engineering to be held in Mirny, Yakutia. The aim of the Symposium is 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. 


Northern Research Forum 6th Open Assembly, September 4-6, 2011."Our Ice Dependent World," organized by the Northern Research Forum and its partners as the Northern Research Forum 6th Open Assembly, will be hosted by the University of Akureyri in the town of Hverager