US Arctic Research Commission
March 4, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will be in session to consider morning business. The House is expected to hold a pro forma session.  No roll call votes are expected today.


beaverfeverMedia Reviewtodaysevents  


In Arctic, Warming Climate Means More "Beavers Defecating" and Disease. Two new studies by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium report that warmer climates are threatening the Northwest Arctic's food-cooling and water-treatment systems, and posing various food and waterborne health risks to nearby communities. Mother Jones


Lawmakers Agree on Getting Rid of Overlapping Programs. House Republicans and Democrats are inching closer to common ground on consolidating or eliminating duplicative federal programs. But lawmakers remain divided on more controversial revenue collection proposals, such as requiring oil companies to pay royalties to the government on leases to extract oil and gas from federal lands. Government Executive


Spending Bills Face New Roadblocks in Senate. Eight Republican senators, including Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and John McCain, R-Ariz., put their colleagues on notice with a letter announcing their intent to block any legislation that doesn't meet certain criteria, including a requirement that all new spending must be offset with cuts to lower priority spending. "As stewards of our nation's finances, we must ensure our good intentions today are not paid for at the expense of future generations," said the letter, which was sent to all senators. "This means no longer spending money we do not have to pay for programs we do not need." Government Executive


More EU Talks in Arctic Finland.  It is expected that at least 12 foreign ministers from EU countries will meet in Finland near the Russia border.  It is expected that they will consider the EU's role in the Arctic and continue discussion regarding the European Parliament's recently adopted Report on Sustainable EU Policy for the High North. Barents Observer


Murkowski Commends NOAA for Resolution of State Boundary Conflict. U.S. MurkowskiSen. Lisa Murkowski, today commended the National Ocean Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for cooperating with the state of Alaska on resolving a dispute over state water boundaries. NOAA, acting under authority of the U.S. Baseline Committee, redefined the baseline and various offshore lines that determine state and federal waters off of Alaska.  Fishing in certain state water cod fishery areas was to take place and would have been seriously disrupted by the changes.  The State of Alaska asked NOAA to support the State's regulatory definition of state waters for purposes of fisheries management and enforcement.  Recently, NOAA agreed to not enforce the new baselines while the State fisheries are being prosecuted until boundaries are finalized. Senator Lisa Murkowski


Shrinking Tundra, Advancing Forest: How the Arctic will look by century's end. Imagine the vast, empty tundra in Alaska and Canada giving way to trees, shrubs and plants typical of more southerly climates. Imagine similar changes in large parts of Eastern Europe, northern Asia and Scandinavia, as needle-leaf and broadleaf forests push northward into areas once unable to support them. Imagine part of Greenland's ice cover, once thought permanent, receding and leaving new tundra in its wake. PhysOrg


Human Health and Climate Change: NOAA-funded studies reveal the NOAAconnections. A panel of scientists recently unveiled new research funded by NOAA's Oceans and Human Health Initiative (OHHI) at the 177th annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, DC. These three studies demonstrate how climate change could increase human health risks originating from ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems. NOAA


Pacific Environment: Alaska tribes, environmentalists work with traditional reindeer herders in Russia. Pacific Environment, an international environmental NGO focused on protecting the living environment of the Pacific Rim, will travel to Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in Russia next week, March 7-16, with a group of indigenous leaders from the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, as part of a cultural and informational exchange to strengthen ties between these communities in an effort to foster supportive relationships across the Arctic and identify opportunities for collaboration, a press release from the group said.  This 10-day exchange will bring leaders working on indigenous issues and a traditional way of life from Alaska's Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope to the Sakha Republic to meet with Evenk tribal and NGO leaders and officials in several Sakha villages. The Evenk community in Sakha, a traditional reindeer-herding culture, is working to protect its culture and way of life in the face of increasing resource extraction activities and industrial development. Through the exchange, indigenous leaders will convene to share experiences and to learn from each other. Participants will discuss their communities' approach to protecting sacred traditional lands, participation in decision-making processes regarding natural resource use, and community leaders' experience negotiating with resource extraction companies and monitoring industrial projects. Arctic Sounder


Juneau World Affairs Council Presents "The Coast Guard's Future in the USCGlogoArctic." Last Tuesday, the Juneau World Affairs Council hosted a presentation at Centennial Hall entitled "The Coast Guard's Future in the Arctic". Jim Clark, the group's program chair, explains why the topic was chosen.  "The Arctic we figured had merit of two things, number one; of great interest to Alaskans and it has incredible international repercussions with the opening of the Arctic. So we have run a series on the Arctic and two weeks ago we had Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell." KATH-NBC


Now It's Their Turn: The Inuit prepare to defend their rights. When in the Arctic, you should at least treat your host well. Royal Dutch Shell, an oil giant, had to learn this the hard way when planning to drill exploration wells in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska a couple of years ago. The firm had spent $84m on offshore leases and had satisfied regulators. But it failed to win over the Inupiat, an Inuit group. They worried that icebreakers and drill ships would hurt the bowhead whales on which they depend. Their leaders and environmental groups sued American regulators for not following a 1970 law on environmental impacts. This allowed them to wrest a number of concessions from Shell, including a commitment to stop all offshore operations during the bowhead migration and hunt, should drilling ever proceed. The Economist


Divide Over Arctic Overfishing Claims. A BIG debate has opened up in Canada over claims that Arctic fishing grounds are being overfished. A study published  in the journal Polar Biology claimed that the amount of fish caught in the Arctic has been dramatically under-reported for decades, making the northern ocean environment appear far more pristine than it really is. FISHupdate 


Icebreakers and the Department of Homeland Security Budget. The DHS budget includes funding to sustain a trained icebreaking crew.  The Coast Guard lists the following as some of its FY2010 accomplishments: unmanned aerial systems, oil spill detection/ response, and a prototype simulation model that measures the relative effectiveness of various force deployment operations in the Arctic. (Page 1750-1751)  The Coast Guard's research and development section would like to consider concepts and technologies supporting Coast Guard operations in the Arctic region, Arctic spill response, and research to assess operational gaps in the Arctic region in 2012 (Page 1753-1755). Department of Homeland Security Budget


Alaska Dispatch to host Arctic Conference. Think of the Bering Strait as the world's next Panama Canal. We Alaskans have long been aware of the melting Arctic sea ice, but only now do we fully comprehend the sweeping and profound implications the opening of this new shipping gateway holds for life in the 49th state. For those who don't live in Alaska -- the leaders of the federal government, the titans of industry and commerce, and those from other nations -- the picture is even less clear. From climate change to the emerging opportunities for commerce and shipping, the seasonal thawing of the Arctic ice pack poses unique challenges and opportunities for Alaska, as well as the United States. Alaska Dispatch

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic-related legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Eventsfutureevents    


International Conference on Arctic Marine Science, International Law and Climate Protection, March 17-18. The German Federal Foreign Office is hosting an event that will take place on the Berlin premises of the Federal Office. The event is co-hosted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, with additional support from prominent research institutes. The Conference will discuss the legal framework for marine scientific research in the Arctic Ocean at present and in the future. Scholars, scientists and diplomats with an interest in the Arctic Ocean are invited to attend. For more information, please contact


Arctic Dialogue & Study Tour, March 22-24, 2011. For the past four years Norway's Bod? University Graduate School of Business, the High North Centre for Business and Governance (affiliated with the University), the International Institute of Energy Politics and Diplomacy (MIEP) at MGIMO University in Moscow, Russia, and HBW Resources have hosted an annual Arctic Dialogue and Study Tour.  The tour brings together stakeholders from all Arctic nations (government, industries, academic, native and local peoples) to discuss issues involving resource development in the Arctic, and share common experiences, best practices and solutions. For more information contact Andrew Browning.


Arctic Science Summit Week, Seoul, March 28-April 1, 2011. The purpose of Korean Flagthe Arctic Science Summit Week is to provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in all fields of Arctic science. The Arctic Science Week 2011 is supported by the Korean government, the Korean Research Council of Fundamental Science & Technology, and the Seoul Tourism Organization, among other groups.  


The Arctic as a Messenger for Global Processes- Climate Change and Pollution, May 4-6, 2011. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), the University of Copenhagen, and Aarhus University. The conference will include talks by invited keynote speakers, oral presentations selected on the basis of submitted abstracts, poster presentations, and short oral presentations of selected posters. A panel discussion will develop messages to be communicated to the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting that will take place in Greenland one week after the conference. 

Sixth International Conference on Arctic Margins, May 31-June 2, 2011 at the University of Alaska - Fairbanks.  The International Conference on Arctic Margins (ICAM) will examine current geological and geophysical research on the Arctic. Topics include: hydrocarbon potential and gas hydrates; science issues relating to UNCLOS Article 76; geodynamic significance of Arctic magmatism; vertical motions in the Arctic, tectonic, and glacial; geology and palaeogeography of the Arctic continental margins; evolution of the Arctic Ocean basins, including plate reconstructions, magmatism, and sedimentology; modern Arctic environments, including geological, climatic, and oceanographic processes; recent advances in Arctic research technology. More information email.  


American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium, June 5-14. 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. 


The Arctic Imperative, June 19-21, 2011. The Alaska Dispatch, Aspen Institute, Commonwealth North, and the Institute of the North will host a forum titled "The Arctic Imperative: Think of the Bering Strait as the Next Panama Canal."  The forum will bring together international policymakers, industry, and investment leaders to consider topics just as security, resources, port development, marine shipping, commerce, and trade.


7th Congress of the International Arctic Social Sciences, June 22-26, 2011myvatnThe 7th Congress, "Circumpolar Perspectives in Global Dialogue: Social Sciences Beyond the IPY," will be held in Akureyri, Iceland. The International Congress of the Arctic Social Sciences is held every three years. 
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 Muskokaddresses 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. 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.   


Operating in the Arctic: Supporting the US Coast Guard Challenges Through Research, Sept. 21-23, 2010. This workshop, held at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and co-sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and the US Arctic Research Commission, explored and identified ways in which scientific research and development can improve the ability of the U.S. Coast Guard to operate and carry out its statutory missions in the Arctic region. Participation in this event included state, local and international stakeholders, academics and researchers, and USCG and other federal agency officials. A funding opportunity associated with this activity is described here.


The Tenth International Conference on Permafrost, June 2012. The conference permafrostwill be held in Tyumen, Russia, and is organized and hosted by Russia. The last conference was held in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2008.  More details to follow.   

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