Arctic Update Header
October 19, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will continue to consider amendments to the 'minibus,' which is a comprehensive package to include FY 2012 funding for Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD appropriation bills. The House is not in session.

Media Reviewtodaysevents    


New, Higher Estimates of Endangered Humpback Whale in North Pacific.  Scientists have increased the estimate on the number of humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean in a paper published in the journal  Marine Mammal Science. The increase follows a refined statistical analysis of data compiled in 2008 from the largest whale survey ever undertaken to assess humpback whale populations throughout the North Pacific. Science Daily 


Arctic Warming Will Affect Everyone- Fisheries Commissioner. European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki has told a Norwegian fishing audience that what is happening in the Arctic will have serious consequences for the European Union and the rest of the world. Speaking in Oslo this week, she told the Norwegian fishing vessel and ship owners: "We are told that by the end of 2013 the Arctic Ocean could be entirely ice free and that the ice is decreasing faster than all models predicted. A recent and alarming study from NASA confirms this. Fish Update


Democrats Push for Confirmation Vote on Commerce Secretary Nominee Bryson. Senate Democrats are trying to engineer a vote as early as this week on President Obama's pick to head the Commerce Department, though it is unclear whether they can muster a supermajority for the nomination. Oklahoma Republican James M. Inhofe said Tuesday he would be willing to allow a confirmation vote on the nomination of John Bryson, but only if it is subject to a 60-vote threshold. Inhofe said he objected to a move by Democrats to schedule a regular up-or-down vote and hinted that other Republicans did as well. Congressional Quarterly 


Bowhead Whale Hunting BarrowFall Whale Hunting Commences In Barrow, Alaska. On October 8, a crew of Inupiat Eskimos navigated the icy Arctic Ocean in a powerboat. After spotting the first bowhead whale's spout, the team approached the mammal's side and shot it with an exploding harpoon. The catch marked the beginning of the annual fall whale hunting season in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city in the United States. Indian Country Today   


Scientists Discuss Arctic Energy. Arctic energy was the topic of discussion at a conference held in the city last week. The Arctic region, rich in energy and fresh water resources, has become a stumbling point of conflicting interests among different countries around the world. The right to develop and use the Arctic energy sector has been already claimed not only by countries making up the "Arctic Five" (Russia, the U.S., Canada, Norway, Denmark), but also by countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and others trying to break the alliance. The St. Petersburg Times 


NarwhaleNarwhal Tracking Project Helps Chart Species' Future. WWF is supporting a new project to track narwhal Arctic whales best known for the long tusk that projects forward from their faces. The project partners fitted the little-researched whales with satellite tracking devices. WWF is also launching a webpage to showcase the fieldwork and research, with maps and information about the latest movements of the narwhals as they move around Baffin Bay in Canada's Nunavut territory. WWF 


Murkowski Fighting to "Alaskanize" No Child Left Behind. Senator Lisa Murkowski is introducing two bills today in advance of a committee markup session to make needed changes for Alaska to No Child Left Behind - as the law is being reauthorized by the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, on which she sits. "I am glad that [HELP Committee] Chairman Harkin wants to make long-overdue changes to improve No Child Left Behind," said Senator Murkowski.  "After hearing from Alaskan educators with their ideas to make sure NCLB works to educate our state's future leaders, I'm suggesting legislation to Alaskanize No Child Left Behind." Senator Lisa Murkowski 


Healy, Coast GuardMurkowski: Our Icebreaking Capacity as an Arctic Nation Just Simply is Unacceptable. Senator Lisa Murkowski highlighted America's shortfall of icebreakers in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing - in a question to United States Coast Guard Vice Admiral Brian Salerno.  "The current status of our icebreaking capacity as an Arctic Nation just simply is unacceptable," Murkowski stressed. "I think those in the Coast Guard, whose responsibility is oversight of those waters, would agree." Senator Murkowski asked the Vice Admiral about the comparative fleets of nearby Russia and Canada.  He testified that Russia has 8 heavy icebreakers, 12 medium and 13 light, for a total of 33.  Canada has 2 medium icebreakers and 4 light ones - for a total of 6. "We have one operating icebreaker," said Salerno, "which is a medium icebreaker, the Coast Guard Cutter Healy." Senator Lisa Murkowski 


New Regional Climate Science Collaborations Announced in Alaska, California/ Nevada, and the Carolinas. NOAA today announced three new Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) awards, totaling $11 million over five years, to climate science collaborations in Alaska, California/Nevada, and the Carolinas. Funds for years two through five are subject to the availability of annual appropriation. "These projects will help build national and regional capacity to understand and minimize the risks associated with a variable and changing climate," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "RISA enables the interdisciplinary research needed to tackle big challenges such as impacts to water, food, infrastructure, and ecosystems. The program strengthens NOAA's climate efforts by bringing science and service communities together." NOAA  


Christopher SabineOceanographer Named to Head NOAA's Seattle Research Laboratory. An environmental oceanographer who has published more than 100 scientific articles on the global carbon cycle and was among the first to publish scientific data about ocean acidification has been chosen to be the director of the NOAA lab known for studying ocean physics and chemistry, innovative research in tsunamis, and underwater volcanoes. Dr. Christopher Sabine will become the third director of NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) in Seattle, Wash. on November 20.NOAA 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.R. 2112, the legislative vehicle used to fund FY 2012 government operations for Transportation-HUD, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Agriculture. (Kingston, considered in the Senate)


S. AMDT to H.R. 2112, preventing funds for coastal marine spatial planning for a State unless the Governor of the State provides written consent for such planning. (Murkowski, amendment proposed)

Future Events                                   


Alaska Federation of Natives, October 20-22. The AFN Convention (October 20 to October 22) is the largest representative annual gathering in the United States of any Native peoples. Delegates are elected on a population formula of one representative per twenty-five Native residents in the area and delegate participation rates at the annual convention typically exceed 95 percent. Each year the AFN Convention draws between 4,000-5,000 attendees. The proceedings are broadcast live via television, radio and webcast reaching a diverse audience from Barrow to Ketchikan, from the Aleutian Chain to the Canadian border. During the convention, the entire state of Alaska is blanketed with discussion on current events and issues. International observers are present at most meetings, both exchanging information and learning from the Alaska Native experience. 


From Knowledge to Action, April 22-27, 2012. The conference will bring together over 2,000 Arctic and Antarctic researchers, policy and decision-makers, and a broad range of interested parties from academia, industry, non-government, education and circumpolar communities including indigenous peoples. The conference is hosted by the Canadian IPY Program Office in partnership with the National Research Council of Canada, among other groups. Each day of the conference will feature a program of keynote speakers, plenary panel discussions, parallel science sessions, as well as dedicated poster sessions. The conference-wide plenaries will explore themes related to topics of polar change, global linkages, communities and health, ecosystem services, infrastructure, resources and security. Other sessions will provide the opportunity to present and discuss the application of research findings, policy implications and how to take polar knowledge to action. 


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.  


The Arctic Imperative Summit, July 29-August 1, 2012. The summit will be hosted by Alaska Dispatch and will bring together leading voices in this conversation, including residents from the small villages that comprise Alaska's coastal communities; state, national and international leaders; the heads of shipping and industry; as well as international policymakers and the news media. The goal of the summit is to sharpen the focus on the policy and investment needs of Alaska's Arctic through a series of high level meetings, presentations, investor roundtables and original research.


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.

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