US Arctic Research Commission
June 27, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will be in morning business today.  No roll call votes are expected.  The House is in recess.

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


The Week at a Glance: June 27-July 1. The Senate will consider Department of Justice nominations and legislation to streamline the confirmation process.  The Senate is also expected to consider a short term reauthorization the Federal Aviation Administration.The House is in recess. Congressional Quarterly


Senate Panel Releases New Version of Offshore Drilling Safety Bill.

A Oil Drilling in AlaskaSenate panel last week circulated a pared-down version of offshore drilling safety legislation that will be postponed until a future markup debate over sharing more of the royalty payments with coastal states. The joint substitute amendment released June 24 represents the provisions on which the staffs of Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have reached agreement, said Murkowski spokesman Robert Dillon. Congressional Quarterly


US Offshore Arctic: Ice-bound, little known, and highly controversial. The prospect of oil drilling in the as-yet barely touched Arctic, with its unique ecosystem and wildlife, has outraged environmentalists. The fact that exploration has been facilitated by the shrinking Arctic ice, thought to be a consequence of global warming caused by burning fossil fuels, is an irony that has made the protests even fiercer. Financial Times 


Traveling to Rural Alaska Requires Interest and a Little Bit of Work. Alaskans travel for many reasons. Some are serial adventurers: scaling a peak here, kayaking a cove there. Others are going to work: fishermen, teachers or oil patch workers. Whatever takes you to the remote stretches of Alaska, it's hard not to pause at the grandeur of the country. That was the case when I tagged along on a rapid-fire economic development fly-through of Alaska's northwestern Arctic region. Alaska Dispatch


From Huge Whales to Tiny Plankton, Species migrate across newly ice-fGray Whaleree Northwest Passage. When a 43-foot (13-meter) gray whale was spotted off the Israeli town of Herzliya last year, scientists came to a startling conclusion: it must have wandered across the normally icebound route above Canada, where warm weather had briefly opened a clear channel three years earlier. On a microscopic level, scientists also have found plankton in the North Atlantic where it had not existe d for at least 800,000 years. Chicago Tribune 


NASA Returns to Arctic to Study Climate Change. This week, NASA will embark on the final leg of its mission to study how changing environmental conditions affect the Arctic's chemistry and ecosystems. On June 25, the ICESCAPE mission, or "Impacts of Climate on Ecosystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment," sends 47 scientists to the Chukchi and Beaufort seas along Alaska's western and northern coasts aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy. Phytoplankton, microscopic organisms that form the base of the aquatic food web, are a key focus of the campaign. Alaska Dispatch 


Oil Spill Prevention Technology Center Planned for UAF: ARCTIC RESEARCH: School in unique spot to coordinate learning. The University of Alaska Fairbanks is planning the formation of a science and technology center for oil spill prevention and preparedness in the Arctic, Mark Myers, vice chancellor for research at UAF, told Petroleum News June 15. While the various challenges associated with oil spill risks present the biggest single hurdle to moving forward with oil and gas development in the Arctic offshore, UAF is in a unique position to research, develop and coordinate a wide range of state-of-the-art technologies for addressing the particular challenges that the Arctic presents, Myers said. Anchorage Daily News  


No Arctic Fishery Until More is Known, Canadians Say. A survey suggests that most Canadians back a ban on commercial fishing in the Arctic where experts warn melting sea ice and warming water could draw fishing fleets to the North within the next few years. "There will, in the not too distant future, be the opportunity for someone in a fishing boat to go in there," said Trevor Taylor of the environmental group Oceans North. Some 54 per cent of those asked said the government should work to prevent all countries from fishing in international Arctic waters until research has determined the extent of stocks and regulations are in place to control how they're exploited. That's more than twice as many as the 23 per cent who believed Canadian fishers should be encouraged to head into the Arctic if other countries go there first. The telephone survey of 1,205 Canadians was taken in late May by Nanos Research. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. CTV News 


Drilling in Arctic Waters? Scientists aren't sure if it is safe. Escalating oil prices and diminishing supplies around the world are focusing more attention than ever on the vast petroleum reserves under the Arctic seabed, and in the relatively pristine shoreline areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The Obama administration is moving to speed up drilling where possible, but the nagging problem with a wholesale move into the Arctic is how much we don't know about the remote, fragile region. How much more drilling can safely be accommodated? LA Times


Are There Any Eskimo Curlews Left Out There? Is the Eskimo curlew extinct? The last winter sighting was in 1987 in Nebraska, the last summer sighting in 1983 in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, reports Reuters via the Mother Nature Network. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is this summer asking its Alaska scientists for help in determining whether the shorebird should be declared extinct. Anchorage Daily News


USGS Report: More Native dialogue needed to address science gaps, including subsistence impacts. The need for more traditional knowledge in Arctic inuit childrenscience receives plenty of attention in a new report that highlights gaps in data related to proposed oil and gas drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf in Alaska. "There is a need for additional science dialogue with Native communities to more comprehensively incorporate local traditional knowledge into decisions," reads a fact sheet released with the U.S. Geological Survey report.  The 278-page report itself spends a great deal of time calling for more comprehensive and collaborative studies that address potential changes in a broad way. The Arctic Sounder  

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered on Friday.

Future Events                  


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.


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


Murmansk Arctic Forum, October 1-2, 2011.  Hosted by the Russian Geographic Society, 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.


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.

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