US Arctic Research Commission
June 6, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 



The Senate is expected to consider a nomination.  The House is in recess for the week.

American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium, June 5-14, 2011. This policy colloquium brings together a group to consider atmospheric policy. The colloquium will cover policy creation basics, interactions with congressional staff, and information on the current atmospheric policy issues. 

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


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 will begin this week, including two in Alaska (June 9, Barrow, and June 10, Anchorage), and in DC (June 9). 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


This Week in Congress. The Senate will consider the nomination of Donald Virrilli, Jr. to be solicitor general.  Senate appropriation subcommittees will hold hearings on FY 2012 spending bills.  The Senate Armed Services Committee will also hold a hearing on the nomination of Leon Panetta to be the next Defense Secretary.  The House is in recess this week. Congressional Quarterly


AK State policy leads Beluga team to remove State scientists. belugaINDEPENDENCE: Beluga recovery team must continue without two Alaska experts. A Parnell administration rule that requires state scientists to adhere to official policy and not the principles of independent science when they work outside their agencies continues to fuel debate more than a month after two biologists were removed from a federal beluga whale recovery team. The state biologists were kicked off the beluga panel because the rule compromised the scientific integrity of the team, federal officials said. "The situation is unfortunate," said Leslie Cornick, an associate professor of marine biology and policy at Alaska Pacific University. "What you have is the politicians silencing their state-employed biologists, and the politicians, who don't know anything about interpreting scientific data, are interpreting scientific data in a way that fits their agenda." Anchorage Daily News 


Balancing Environment, Development. The eight-nation Arctic Council met in Nuuk, Greenland, the week before last and produced a declaration of policy and action that is at once a culmination of three decades of rising interest in the Arctic, and a manifestation of the dramatic new challenges being generated by global climate change. A relatively recent creation, in 1991, the Arctic Council was formed to promote intergovernmental protection of the Arctic environment. Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark with its dependencies of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Canada and the U.S. are full members. Attendees at the Nuuk meeting, the seventh ministerial gathering since the Council's inception, included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Alaska's U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Anchorage Daily News


Our Alaska: Ice Pile-up in Kotzebue

Kotzebue Alaska Ice pile up Front st. 2011 
Kotzebue Alaska Ice pile up Front st. 2011

Kotzebue, Alaska sits above the Arctic Circle -- on the state's western coast. Because of its northerly location, the city gets to watch the sea ice freeze and thaw in the Kotzebue Sound. For residents of Front Street, they get to step out their front doors in winter and look out over a chunky frozen landscape. For a little while, the sheet of Arctic ice extends onto the shore, to the point where it comes a-knockin' at the front door of one of the houses lining the street. According to the uploader, the last time this happened, the ice actually made it into a resident's home, damaging a snowmachine and a car in the process. Alaska Dispatch 


Joining Forces for Arctic Forecast. Travelers in the Arctic can now get navigational warnings and weather forecast all the way to the North Pole.  Meteorological services in Norway, Russia and Canada will broadcast updated warnings on weather, wind and the ice edge twice a day. Barents Observer


Why Does it Matter if Arctic Sea Ice Melts? Why does it matter if the Arctic sea ice melts? We often hear about the global consequences: waning sea ice is expected to lead to even more climate warming. On a more immediate and local level, the loss of summer sea ice is already affecting the land and people near the Arctic Ocean. As the ice melts to reveal the open ocean underneath, fragile coastlines become vulnerable to bigger waves and storms. Alaska Dispatch 


New Group Wants Amundsen Ship to Stay in Canada. A group of citizens in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, is fighting to keep the wreck of the Maud, a ship that once belonged to famed polar explorer Roald Amundsen, from being lifted out of Canadian waters and taken to Norway.  The Maud, also known as the Baymaud, has been sitting partially submerged in the shallow waters near Cambridge Bay, a remote community of about 1,500, for the past eight decades. Eye on the Arctic 


Nunavut Health Minister Defends Suicide Remark. Nunavut Health Minister Tagak Curley was on the defensive this week over a comment he made to a national newspaper, in which he said suicide "isn't such a big problem anymore" in the territory.  About 30 people gathered in the gallery of the Nunavut legislature in Iqaluit on Tuesday, hoping that Curley would explain the remark he made in a Globe and Mail feature in April. "Suicide isn't such a big problem anymore," Curley told the newspaper in a feature about Nunavut's social problems, which include suicide and alcohol abuse. Fourteen people have committed suicide in Nunavut, a territory of about 33,000, so far this year. Last year, 29 Nunavummiut took their own lives. Eye on the Arctic


Science Expedition to Observe Whale Migration in the Arctic. Radio Canada International's Marc Montgomery talks to Christopher Debicki, the Nunavut Director for the Pew Environment Group's Oceans North Canada as he prepares to lead an Arctic science expedition that'll be tracking one of the world's greatest whale migrations. The scientists will spend a month aboard a tiny research ship observing narwhal, belugas and bowhead whales as they make their way from their wintering grounds in central Baffin Bay through Lancaster Sound and into Hudson Bay. Eye on the Arctic 


Institute of North, UAF, Team up on Arctic Policy. A new alliance between the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Anchorage-based Institute of the North will create a unified forum for addressing arctic policy, infrastructure and climate change issues, a press release from UAF said.  A recently signed memorandum marks the first step in a long-term collaboration between the two organizations. As part of this partnership, the institute and university will organize several arctic-focused workshops and programs in the coming year. The Arctic Sounder 


Bid to Save Sandpiper at Risk of Extinction in Russia. Fewer than 200 pairs of spoon-billed sandpipers were thought to exist in 2009, and since then, the population has thought to have declined by a quarter each year. So a specialist team of bird experts are flying to the sandpiper's home in northeast Russia to collect and incubate eggs and set up a captive breeding population. BBC News

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.


Future Events                 


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

CNO Roughead

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 conference 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 

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 event 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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