US Arctic Research Commission
May 19, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will consider a judicial nomination.  The Senate Armed Services Committee continues to consider the defense authorization bill. The House is in recess.

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


Is the Scramble Over the North Pole Back On? For all its remoteness, the North Pole generates a lot of controversy. In 1909, the American admiral Robert Peary reported that he successfully reached the geographic North Pole, a feat of navigation that is now widely disputed. Nearly a century later, another expedition to the remote top of the globe caused a stir when Russian submarines planted a three-foot tall titanium flag on the sea bed miles beneath the pole, going outside the global bodies that oversee the region to stake a claim to the unowned spot on the planet.Time


Lichens May Aid in Combating Deadly Chronic Wasting Disease in Wildlife. Certain lichens can break down the infectious proteins responsible for chronic wasting disease (CWD), a troubling neurological disease fatal to wild deer and elk and spreading throughout the United States and Canada, according to U.S. Geological Survey research published in the journal PLoS ONE. Science Daily


Coastal Senators Prepare Push to Increase Offshore Oil Revenue for States. Senators backing an expansion of offshore drilling are hoping to take advantage of last year's Republican electoral gains to advance legislation that would allow coastal states to share more revenue from oil and gas production in federal waters. While states already share some of the royalties from offshore energy production, some coastal lawmakers argue they should receive as much as one-third of the total payments to offset erosion and other environmental effects of drilling. States get about half of the federal revenue for oil and gas produced on federal lands within their borders. Congressional Quarterly


Russia Removes Toxic Wastes From Arctic. A leader of the Russian Arctic national parks says that Russia should be able to remove all the polluting waste material within 15 years. Barents Observer 


GOP Oil Production Bill Rebuffed in Senate. The Senate on Wednesday rebuffed a Republican bill that would boost offshore oil production, the latest sign that lawmakers will be hard-pressed to reach any bipartisan deal on energy legislation. The motion to consider the bill, which needed 60 votes to advance, was rejected 42-57, with five Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition. The Republicans voting against advancing to the bill were Senator DeMint of South Carolina, Senator Lee of Utah, Senator Shelby of Alabama, Senator Vitter of Louisiana and Senator Snowe of Maine. Congressional Quarterly


The 13 Most Vulnerable Arctic Treasures.  At the top of the world, industrial activities are closing in on the last refuges of rare marine mammals and seabirds. As the Arctic warms, shipping and fishing as well as oil and gas exploration are expanding into ocean places that once were inaccessible, frozen under year-round ice. In a new report by scientists and indigenous peoples, 13 unique and fragile areas in the Arctic Ocean are identified for protection against these emerging threats as well as the continual stressors of climate change, loss of sea ice and ocean acidification. Environment News Service 


Alaska's Subsistence Whaling Catch Below Average. Towering pressure ridges off the coast of Barrow have reduced access to open-water leads where subsistence whaling happens, leaving crews far below their usual catch at this time, an official with the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission said. In a normal year, the community's whalers would have used up about three-quarters of their annual quota, which sits at 22 this year, said Johnny Aiken, the commission's executive director. But instead of using up 16 or 17 strikes, whalers have used only six strikes. Alaska Dispatch


Beaufort Sea Ice Rot and Retreat Continues. In what surely adds another dismal harbinger to the summer fate of the Beaufort Sea's ice pack and long-term prospects for Alaska's endangered polar bears, an international research team has discovered that sea ice didn't rebound all that much during the past winter. A six-week scientific mission to gauge the status of the frozen pack and atmospheric conditions across uninhabited regions of the Arctic Ocean reported significantly thinner ice in the Beaufort Sea than in the past two springs. Alaska Dispatch


From Sea to Shining Sea-to Brand New Arctic Ocean. [Commentary] Old-school thinking sees America as a nation bounded by two great oceans. Yet the world has changed. The Arctic Ocean is no longer optional. In fact, it has become our nation's third great ocean border -- and the opportunity of a lifetime. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's recent visit to Greenland on May 12 confirmed that realization. She became the first U.S. secretary of state to attend the Arctic Council. Alaska Dispatch 


UAF Researchers Eye Sikuliaq Possibilities. Sam VanLaningham can't wait to take the Sikuliaq for a spin. When it's ready for science operations in 2014, the 261-foot research vessel will be capable of drilling Bering Strait seafloor cores in any season. VanLaningham hopes those cores will uncover mysteries about the history of climate change in Alaska. Last week, VanLaningham and several UAF scientists met with other researchers and agency representatives at the first Sikuliaq Science Workshop at Marinette Marine Corporation in Marinette, Wis. At the workshop, scientists presented and discussed some of the many scientific projects possible on the R/V Sikuliaq. The scientists also toured full-scale mock-ups of the vessel's laboratories and bridge. Arctic Sounder 


Alaska Science Forum: NASA Campaign Launches New Era of Rocket Recovery in the Far North. Brian Lawson, who has found many rocket parts over the years during his work for Poker Flat Research Range, looks out his window and sees an orange and white parachute draped over black spruce trees near a small arctic creek. He also catches a glint of silver from a metal cylinder near the parachute. It's the brains of a rocket, also known as a payload, which launched just after midnight on an engineering test mission from Chatanika, about 170 miles south. The pilot banks the plane and circles the chute. His seven passengers (including NASA engineer Brodell, the lead scientist on the rocket mission) lean toward the windows with their cameras. Capital City Weekly


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


S. 566, National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring Program Act (Murkowski- Senate hearing held)

Future Events     


International Oil Spill Conference, May 23-26, 2011. This conference's theme of "Promoting the Science of Spill Response" continues the long tradition of providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and lessons learned from actual spill responses and research around the world. This conference will also continue the North American part of the Triennial Oil Spill Conference Cycle established in 2005, to be followed by Interspill 2012 (Europe) and Spillcon 2013 (SE Asia), before returning to North America in 2014. The Arctic focus will be on May 25th. 

6th International Conference on Arctic Margins, May 31-June 3, 2011. The International Conference on Arctic Margins was founded by the Department of Interior and what was formerly called the Minerals Management Service. 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.


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. 


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

Geoff Haddad, ConocoPhillips

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 in the Chugach Mountains, 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; Geoff Haddad, ConocoPhillips; 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 and Maritime Operations, June 20-21, 2011.The symposium is co-hosted by the U.S.

CNO Roughead

icediminisharcticNational Ice Center (NIC) and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. This symposium addresses present and future impacts of rapid changes in Arctic Ocean sea ice cover 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., and the Commandant of the US Coast Guard ADM Robert Papp. The forum, the fourth in a series, is a key opportunity for federal entities to discuss their response to changes in both the Arctic environment and associated policies. Registration is now open.


7th Congress of the International Arctic Social Sciences, June 22-26, 2011Akureyri 

The 7th Congress, "Circumpolar Perspectives in Global Dialogue: Social Sciences Beyond the IPY," will be held in Akureyri, Iceland. The  Intl'

Congress of the Arctic Social Sciences is held every 3 years.   


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 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, 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


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. 


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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