US Arctic Research Commission
June 28, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will continue several nominations and legislation to streamline the confirmation process.  The House is in recess.

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


Caribou Perceive UV Light in the Dim Arctic Night. Reindeer - the domestic cariboucousins of the wild caribou that roam Alaska, Canada and Russia by the hundreds of thousands - can perceive ultraviolet light invisible to humans, perhaps lending the species a stark evolutionary edge in its struggle to find food and avoid predators during the long, dark night of Arctic winter. A new study by a team of European and Australian scientists suggests that these "wandering deer of the North" would be able to see lichen - an essential winter food - as black against the lighter background of snow because the plant absorbs UV radiation. Even more dramatic, they would also see splashes of urine on the ground - a startling if not splotchy signal that predators likes wolves may be prowling nearby. Alaska Dispatch


Researchers Get to the Bottom of Melting Arctic Sea Ice. Arctic explorers may have figured out why sea ice in the North is melting so much faster than anyone thought it would.  Scientists have long puzzled over why Arctic sea ice is retreating at up to three times the rate that climate models say it should. CTV 


Federal Department Changes Name to be More Politically Correct. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada has a new name -Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada - that is getting mixed reviews.  "What's in a name?" said Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington. "It's an improvement, I think, from where it was, but I don't think it was done with any consultation with anyone else."  Northern News Services Online


Defense Department, Services Monitor Arctic Melting. With the number of geopolitical hotspots in the world today, the Arctic is not an area that comes quickly to mind for possible defense operations. But it is a place of great national security and strategic importance that the Defense Department and services are monitoring closely. In a report sent to Congress earlier this month, DOD officials say the Arctic is a place they and the services are paying attention to because of rapid climate change there that likely will open the area to greater human habitation and possible threats to U.S. interests. Department of Defense


 Arctic Sea Ice Headed for Another Major Melt.  It's that time of year again, when the air in the Mid-Atlantic feels more like soup, afternoon thunderstorms arrive with regularity, and when news of sweeping changes in a faraway region - the Arctic - tends to pick up. We're now well into the seasonal Arctic sea ice melt season, and so far, sea ice has been tracking near or below the record low extent reached in 2007, when both the famed Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route were open for a time. The precipitous decline of Arctic sea ice during the past 30 years of the satellite record (and longer, when other data is taken into consideration) has been one of the most striking manifestations of global climate change, and it's ushering in a new era of resource development, competition, and cooperation in the Far North. Washington Post  


Begich Statement on USGS Chukchi & Beaufort Study. U.S. Sen.begich Mark Begich released the following statement after the U.S. Geological Survey released a report evaluating the science needed to make decisions regarding oil and gas exploration and development in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas: "This long-awaited study about the enormous resource potential in the Arctic is welcome news to those of us who advocate careful development of those resources. It shows that Alaska's Arctic oil and gas resources are enormous and their responsible development can help address America's energy and national security." Senator Mark Begich


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

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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