US Arctic Research Commission
May 9, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will consider the nomination of James Cole to be the Deputy Attorney General. Congressman Dean Heller will be sworn in to replace John Ensign who resigned last week.The House will consider two bills related to offshore drilling and begin consideration of the intelligence authorization bill. The defense authorization bill will be marked up by the full House Committee on Armed Services.


Media Reviewtodaysevents  


House Faces Summertime Blues in Energy Fight. In the House, an energy debate is building over the issue of rising gas prices as Republicans and Democrats try to win the messaging battle before having to face constituents back home at the end of the month. Republicans plan consideration of two energy-related bills for this week while Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is set to introduce her own proposals that she hopes will overshadow the GOP messaging plan.


Pollutants Weaken Polar Bears in East Greenland: Researchers: "Shrinking Balls and Degraded Bones" Linked to Pesticides, Flame Retardants. Persistent organic pollutants used in industry are changing the genitals and bones of polar bears in East Greenland, says a Danish wildlife veterinarian and toxicologist. "Shrinking balls and degraded bones," linked to the presence of pesticides and flame retardants in the Arctic, are likely to affect the animals' fertility and reproductive success, said Christian Sonne at last week's conference on Arctic climate change and pollution in  Copenhagen. Nunatsiaq Online


Begich Introduces "Investing in Innovation" Education Bill. With the goal of supporting successful local education programs and improving student success, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has introduced the Investing in Innovation for Education Act. Also known as the "i3" bill, the legislation promotes innovations proposed by school districts and organizations who can show a record of improved student achievement. Senator Mark Begich


Delegation Welcomes White House Meeting on Alaska Offshore Exploration. Oil Drilling in AlaskaAlaska's congressional delegation welcomed the White House's acknowledgement this week of the importance of advancing oil and natural gas exploration on Alaska's outer continental shelf. Senior administration officials met May 4 with Shell Oil at the White House to establish a timely process for considering the company's permit requests for drilling of exploratory wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. The delegation has long pressed the administration on its handling of the permitting process in Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas and believes this week's meeting is an important step. Alaska Congressional Delegation  


Kathryn D. Sullivan Appointed as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environment Observation and Prediction for NOAA. Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., was confirmed by unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate and appointed by President Obama to serve as assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction and deputy administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dr. Sullivan, who previously served as NOAA's chief scientist, is a distinguished scientist, renowned astronaut and intrepid explorer. As assistant secretary, she will play a central role in directing Administration and NOAA priority work in the areas of weather and water services, climate science and services, integrated mapping services and Earth-observing capabilities. NOAA


Harper Should Look Northward Again: Despite growing interest in the Arctic in recent years, the region was ignored in the election. [Opinion] Defining itself as "The True North Strong and Free," Canada has moved in recent years to assert that its national and international identity is that of a northern circumpolar country. The Northern Strategy was a cornerstone of the previous Conservative government, yet, curiously, in the run-up to the recently concluded federal elections, the leaders of the main parties did not engage in any national discussion on the Arctic nor on northern issues. Edmonton Journal


arctic shippingNORAD Eyes Rescue Ability in a Busier Arctic Ocean: Oil Reserves: Shrinking ice cap opens area to more commercial traffic. U.S. and Canadian military commanders say they are examining their rescue capabilities in the Arctic as a shrinking ice cap brought about by climate change opens up rich oil and gas reserves and draws more commercial traffic to the top of the globe.  "There are a host of issues that face us as this beautiful part of the world opens up more and more," said U.S. Adm. James Winnefeld, Commander of the U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD. Anchorage Daily News


Secretary Clinton Travels to Nuuk, Greenland for Arctic Council Ministerial. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Nuuk, Greenland May 11-12 with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to participate in the Seventh Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council is composed of the eight Arctic states, with involvement of Arctic indigenous groups, and is the pre-eminent intergovernmental forum for cooperation in the Arctic. At this meeting, Secretary Clinton will sign an Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, the first binding international agreement among the eight Arctic States and an important step in saving lives in the region. U.S. State Department  

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.R. 1388, Rare Earths Supply Chain Technology and Resources Transformation Act (Coffman, referred to House subcommittee)


H.R. 1522, To Repeal the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Mack, referred to House subcommittee)


H.R. 1568, Oil Pollution Research and Development Program Reauthorization (Woolsey- referred to House subcommittee)

Future Events     


Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee Hearing on the Coast Guard, May 10. The Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the U.S. Coast Guard's FY12 Budget. 


Seventh Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council, May 12.  The Arctic Council will host this meeting in Nuuk, Greenland. The meeting will consider "The Changing Arctic: Challenges and Opportunities for the Arctic Council;" the Nuuk Declaration; the Arctic Council Search and Rescue Agreement; and hand over the chairmanship to Sweden. Secretary Hillary Clinton will lead the US delegation. 


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. 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. 


Alice Rogoff, Alaska Dispatch Publisher

The Arctic Imperative, June 19-21.  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 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; 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. Registration is $2500 for out-of-state participants (includes registration, meals, tax, ground transfers & lodging), and $900 for in-state (includes registration & meals). Speakers are free. Media registration and meals are free.


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. 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. 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.   


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.    


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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