US Arctic Research Commission
June 13, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are not in session today.


Meetings of State Parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, June 13-17, 2011. The State Parties to UNCOLS will host their 21st meeting in New York to host elections, review information submitted to the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, hear a report from the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, and review a report on issues of a general nature, relevant to State parties, that have arisen with respect to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.


The Arctic in new National Ocean PolicyObama2   "Changing Conditions in the Arctic" is the focus of a strategic action plan that's being developed under the "National Ocean Policy" signed by President Obama in July 2010. A 10-page draft outline of this plan is now available at a White House website for review and comment (and please do comment...). This plan is one of nine national priority objectives, and it's the only one focusing on a specific geographic region. The plan contains long-term themes, and six specific actions, below, to begin in 2012, when the final plan is released. The plan is being drafted by an interagency team co-led by Robert Winokur (Navy) and John Farrell (USARC). Public listening sessions on this effort were held in Alaska last week. Details on the sessions are here.



An integrated Arctic observing network

Arctic climate and environmental change (understand, forecast, predict)

Arctic mapping and charting

A safe, secure, and reliable Arctic Marine Transportation System

Stewardship of the Arctic marine environment and sustainable development of resources

Resilient and healthy Arctic communities and economies

Domestic and international policy and partnerships in the Arctic



      1: Improve Arctic environmental response management

      2: Observe and forecast Arctic sea ice

      3: Establish a distributed biological observatory

      4: Improve Arctic communication

      5: Advance Arctic marine mapping and charting

      6: Improve coordination on Arctic Ocean issues

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


The Week at a Glance: June 13-17, 2011.  The House returns to action, with the Military Construction-VA and Agriculture spending bills slated for floor time early in the week. A bill to overhaul patent laws might be considered later in the week.The Appropriations panel marks up the Defense and Energy-Water bills, while the Judiciary panel considers a proposal for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. The Senate votes on two judicial nominations Tuesday, and in the afternoon is scheduled for a cloture vote for an ethanol-related amendment to a reauthorization of economic development programs. Congressional Quarterly


Russian Oil Company Can't Cope with Oil Spills Under Ice- WWF. Mr. Igor Chestin, head of the Russian branch of the World Wildlife Fund, was quoted saying that Russian oil companies would not be able to cope with an oil spill under ice. "All discussions with Russian oil companies indicate that not one of them has the technology to deal with an oil spill under ice," he said. Steel Guru


Alaskans Must Set the Vision for Changing Arctic. Alaskans have long been aware of the melting Arctic sea ice, but we are only now beginning to comprehend its sweeping and profound implications. The opening and commercialization of this new shipping gateway will likely transform life for western and northern Alaskan coastal residents over the coming decades. Many of them have an uneasy sense that change may be profound, but they do not have the knowledge or resources to begin the necessarily steps to make the most of the transformation. Alaska Dispatch


At One With Nature, Eskimos Hunt the Walrus Through an Icy Labyrinth: The Polar Eskimos in Greenland's frigid north still celebrate their intimacy with their inhospitable environment in the traditional hunt for the mighty walrus. We are living through the greatest period of change the world has ever known. The vulgarity of mass air travel and excessive materialism is spreading to every corner of the Earth and changing irreversibly how we interact with one another and how we relate to our natural environment. For many, the multiplication of discount airlines offering flights to hundreds of destinations at the price of a few packs of peanuts has degraded the romantic spirit of adventure and travel to a commoditized, characterless commute. In some of the more remote corners, the rate of change has been more rapid than anywhere else. Within 60 years, the polar Eskimos have gone from living as semi-nomads in igloo-shaped houses made of stone and turf, heated and lit by blubber lamps, to a more sedentary life in modern Scandinavian housing with electricity. With the advent of consumerism has come an erosion of traditional values, but fortunately some things have not yet changed. The Guardian


Committee Chair Says Bill to Allow ANWR Development Could Pass House Later This Year. Doc Hastings, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, visited Prudhoe Bay, Alpine and Kaktovik on Thursday, with Gov. Sean Parnell and Rep. Don Young in tow, as part of an effort to better understand permitting obstacles to development and why Alaska oil production has dwindled over the years. The Washington Congressman has released a draft bill for discussion that would seek to streamline permitting to encourage development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing on the bill on Thursday. The Arctic Sounder


Greenpeace Says It Will Continue Campaign Against Cairn Energy After Legal Setback. Greenpeace International says it will continue its campaign to prevent Cairn Energy PLC from drilling for oil in the Arctic circle by other means after a Dutch court issued an injunction barring activists from approaching company rigs. Washington Post


President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts. President Obama announces new nominations including Ken Kopocis to be Assistant Administrator of the Office of Water at the Environmental Protection Agency. The White House


Canadian Military Studies Mental Hardships of Posting in High Arctic. As Canada asserts its Arctic sovereignty, the military wants to know whether people working in dark, isolated outposts are prone to mental breakdown. And a recent report for the scientific arm of the Department of National Defence says the answers may be found in early expeditions to Antarctica, where polar explorers suffered a raft of psychological problems a century ago. The Canadian Press  

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered on Friday.


Future Events                 


The Arctic Imperative, June 19-21, 2011. The Alaska Dispatch, Aspen Institute,

Fran Ulmer

Commonwealth North, and the Institute of the North will host a domestic investment and policy forum titled "The Arctic Imperative." The forum, at the Alyeska Resort near Anchorage, will bring together international policymakers, industry, and investment leaders to consider topics such as security, resources, port development, marine shipping, commerce, and trade. The goal of the gathering is to "sharpen the world's focus on the policy and investment needs of Arctic development through a series of high-level meetings, presentations and investor roundtables." Confirmed speakers include Fran Ulmer, Chair of the USARC; Edward Itta, Mayor of the North Slope Borough; Thomas Barrett, President of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company; Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations; Mead Treadwell, Lt. Gov. of the State of Alaska; David Rubenstein, Managing Director of the Carlyle Group; Reggie Joule, Alaska State Legislator, among others.


4th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval NOAA

and Maritime Operations, June 20-22, 2011 (downtown DC).  The symposium, co-hosted by the U.S. National Ice Center and the U.S. Arctic Research in Arctic Ocean sea ice on a wide range of maritime operations. Confirmed speakers include the Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Research, RADM Nevin Carr Jr., the Commandant of the US Coast Guard ADM Robert Papp, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich, and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. The forum is a key opportunity to learn about changes in the Arctic environment, and the manner in which they are being responded to in terms of policies and practices. Registration is now open.


Tribal Energy Development at the Federal Level, July 14-15, 2011. Law Seminars International will host a seminar for attorneys, tribes, industry executives, and government officials to discuss energy development on tribal lands.


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  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. 


4th International Sea Duck Conference, September 12-16, 2011. The seaduckconference is held to provide researchers and managers with opportunities to share information, research, and conduct workshops.


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.    


Advanced Workshop on Oil Spills In Sea Ice: Past, Present and Future Fermo

September 20-23, 2011. A technical workshop, organized by Dr. Peter Wadhams, on the physical problems associated with oil spills and blowouts in sea ice will be held at the Istituto Geografico Polare "Silvio Zavatti," Fermo, Italy. Scientists, engineers and policy makers are invited to address the questions of how oil is emitted from a blowout or spill, how the oil and gas are incorporated in the under-ice surface, how the oil layer evolves, how the oil is transported by the ice, and how and where eventual release occurs. The aim is to incorporate the experience of those scientists who worked in this field in the 1970s-1990s, when large-scale field experiments involving oil release were possible, and to relate this to the needs of present researchers who are seeking solutions to the problem of a sustainable Arctic oil spill management system. Notably, the workshop will be attended by the oil spill work package of the EU ACCESS project (Arctic Climate Change and its Effect on Economic Systems). Registration forms are available here


Arkhangelsk Arctic Forum, October 1-2, 2011.  Hosted by the Russian Geographic Society and the regional government of Arkhangelsk, the forum will host discussion on Arctic navigation, development of the Northern Sea Route, railway extensions, and construction of a deep-water port in Arkhangelsk.  The official website is in Russian.


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. Details to follow.   


15th International Congress on Circumpolar Heath, August 5-10, 2012. This kivalina girlevent is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Society for Circumpolar Health, and the International Union for Circumpolar Health.  The forum will consider community participatory research and indigenous research; women's health, family health, and well-being; food security and nutrition; social determinants of health; environmental and occupational health; infectious and chronic diseases; climate change-health impacts; health service delivery and infrastructure; and, behavioral health.


Arctic/Inuit/Connections: Learning from the Top of the World, October 24-28, 2012.  The 18th Inuit Studies Conference, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, will be held in Washington, DC. The conference will consider heritage museums and the North; globalization: an Arctic story; power, governance and politics in the North; the '"new" Arctic: social, cultural and climate change; and Inuit education, health, language, and literature. For more information, please email Lauren Marr.

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