Arctic Update Header
April 12, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are in recess until Monday, April 16. 


Leadership for the Arctic, April 11-12, 2012The United States Coast Guard Academy and the Law of the Sea Institute at the University of California's Berkeley School of Law are sponsoring a two-day interdisciplinary conference on key issues facing global leaders tasked with shaping and implementing policy for the rapidly emerging human activities in the Arctic.The sponsors' goal in convening this academic conference is to provide maritime affairs academics, professionals and law specialists with an opportunity to share their professional views with those charged with exercising leadership on Arctic policy formulation and implementation in the coming decade.  





Sparrow Migration Tracked for First Time from California to Alaska. Using tiny tags to track a bird's location, biologists from PRBO Conservation Science (PRBO) have unlocked the mystery of where Golden-crowned Sparrows, which overwinter in California, go to breed in the spring. Published this week in the journal PLoS ONE, the study reveals for the first time the exact migration route of this small songbird to its breeding sites in coastal Alaska. Science Daily 


icebergtowingSmall Icebergs Can be the Real Killers: The Titanic's sinking in the Atlantic showed the need for an international patrol. A century after the "unsinkable" RMS Titanic hit an iceberg, researchers are still trying to devise foolproof ways to detect and track hundreds of huge, ship-threatening bergs that break away each year from west Greenland glaciers and the Canadian Arctic - to the delight of tourists and the dread of offshore oil firms, ship captains and maritime authorities. The international effort to protect transatlantic marine traffic from the icy menace that routinely skirts Newfoundland's and Labrador's coasts en route to the open ocean began with the loss of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. The sinking prompted the signing of the 1914 Safety of Life at Sea convention and the creation of the International Ice Patrol. Vancouver Sun


Russia Taking on Northern Sea Route as Bellona Raises Alarm Over Norwegian Vessels Under Escort of Nuclear Icebreakers. The Russian news agency RIA Novosti earlier this month hosted a roundtable discussion on developing the Arctic Northern Sea Route, the possibilities of exploiting cargo transport through it, the future of the Russian nuclear icebreaker fleet, and legislation needed to effect these plans. Bellona


Canada, Denmark May Split Tiny Arctic Island. Hans Island may look like nothing more than a big, vacant rock in Arctic waters, but for decades it's been a political thorn in the side of both the Canadian and Danish governments. That thorn soon could be removed. Ownership of the barren, 1.3 square kilometer piece of land - located in Nares Strait, between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland, which falls under the Danish Crown - has been hotly contested since the current maritime borders were drawn up in 1973. Boundaries of the surrounding waters and seabeds are clear, but each country continues to claim the land mass as their own. Calgary Herald


Coast Guard SealCoast Guard Academy Kicks Off Arctic Conference. The Coast Guard Academy is kicking off a two-day conference focused on challenges posed by climate change in the Arctic. The Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. is among the panelists expected in New London for the conference beginning Thursday. Warming temperatures have opened new waterways during summer months through the Northwest Passage above Canada and Russia. The conference will focus on issues raised by the growing number of boats plying once-frozen seas for oil exploration, shipping and tourism. Newsday


Warming Seas Open Arctic Frontier for Coast Guard. As rising temperatures melt Arctic ice caps, the U.S. Coast Guard is ramping up for deployments in northern seas that are emerging as a new maritime frontier. The guard's largest-ever Arctic deployment, planned for this summer, is designed partly to answer questions over how it will perform off Alaska's north coast. How will cutters navigate without reliable charts mapping the sea bottom? How will communications be affected by the lack of on-shore infrastructure? Do service members have the right training for the climate? The Associated Press


parnellGovernor: Alaska Could Help US Build Icebreakers. Gov. Sean Parnell says the state might be interested in helping finance a new icebreaker so the U.S. can make up lost ground in the race for Arctic dominance. That's the gist of the governor's response to a lengthy letter from Rep. Don Young offering ideas on how Alaska can help the cash-strapped federal government put costly new icebreakers off Alaska's increasingly busy northern coasts. With the nation's icebreaking fleet reduced to a single working ship -- its two large icebreakers are undergoing repairs or being decommissioned -- the state and U.S. government should consider sharing costs to make new icebreakers a reality, Young suggested in a Feb. 7 letter to Parnell. New or refurbished icebreakers will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Alaska Dispatch


Oil Drilling in AlaskaArctic Offshore Spill Preparation Lacking. [Opinion] On March 24, 1989, in the dead of Alaska night, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, spilling more than 11 million gallons of crude oil into the frigid Alaska water. The spill was the largest in U.S. history at the time, and its remote location, accessible only by helicopter and boat, made clean-up efforts all the more difficult and complicated.Having worked on oil pollution research in Alaska for over a decade prior to the spill, I was there a week later as the spill contaminated approximately 1,300 miles of shoreline, collecting water samples beneath the oil slick. The widespread devastation to wildlife, and later to the livelihoods of those I met who depended on fishing and subsistence food-gathering, are not the kinds of memories anyone wants. Anchorage Daily News


WGP to Study Extent of Russian Arctic OCS for SMG. WGP Exploration Ltd. has signed a turn-key contract with State Sevmorgeo Co. to study the Mendeleyev Ridge offshore Russian arctic. The seismic data is aimed at supporting Russia's proposal to the UN Commission on the Law of the Sea about the limits of the continental shelf. The project, scheduled this summer, will use WGP's Portable Modular Source System. The contract includes conversion and installation of the geophysical equipment, and mobilization aboard the icebreaker Dikson. Offshore Magazine

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events               



Arctic Science Summit Week 2012, April 20-22, 2012. The summit will provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in all areas of arctic science. Side meetings organized by stakeholders in arctic science and policy are also expected. More information here


From Knowledge to Action, April 22-27, 2012. The conference will bring IPYmeetinglogotogether 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. Click here


USARC Commission Meeting, April 27-28, 2012. The 97th meeting of the CPClogoUSARC will be held in Montreal, Canada, in conjunction with the "From Knowledge to  


usarc logo large

Action" IPY meeting referred to above. The Commission will meet on April 27-28, and will meet jointly with the Canadian Polar Commission on the afternoon of the 27th, to discuss common interests in Arctic Research. Details here. 


Arctic Forum 2012, April 30-May 1, 2012. The Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. will host the forum in conjunction with their 24th annual meeting. Both events will be in Washington, D.C. The Arctic Forum is part of the American Geophysical Union's Science Policy Conference, which will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The Conference will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions. Within the Science Policy Conference, the Arctic Forum will assess gaps and priority needs for arctic scientific information to inform decision makers in policy formation for three key themes:

                - Governance and Security in the Arctic;

                - Transportation and Energy Development; and

                - Changing Arctic Ecosystems.

The Forum will examine the current state of policymaker and public understanding of the issues. An important goal will be to foster an increased capacity for dialogue and action on arctic science-policy issues.


AGU Science Policy Conference, April 30- May 3, 2012. The American Geophysical Union hosts a policy conference in Washington, D.C. to bring together scientists, policymakers, and other stakeholders to discuss key Earth and space science topics that address challenges to our environment, economy, national security, and public safety. This meeting will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions related to natural hazards, natural resources, oceans, and the Arctic. 


[Postponed]American Polar Society 75th Anniversary Meeting and Symposium, "The Polar Regions in the 21st Century: Globalization, Climate Change and Geopolitics", to occur in 2013, The Explorers Club, NYC. For 75 years, the American Polar Society has both documented and communicated polar activities to the interested world. This meeting will bring together the current leaders in science, government, commerce, and diplomacy for a state-of-the-art forecast of the next seventy-five years in a world influenced more than ever before by the destiny of the Arctic and Antarctic. Click 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. Click here.  


15th International Congress on Circumpolar Health, 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 healthmeetinglogoindigenous 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. Click here


The Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24-28, 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. Click here


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 inuitconferencelogomuseums 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, click here. 



USARC header

Find us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter 

4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 510
Arlington, VA 22203, USA 
(703) 525-0111 (phone)