Arctic Update Header
April 3, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


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


Congressional hearing in Anchorage on National Ocean Policy, April 3, 2012, Anchorage, 10 am. The House Natural Resources Committee's Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs Oversight will hold a Field Hearing on "Alaska's Sovereignty In Peril: The National Ocean Policy's Goal to Federalize Alaska." More info here. Witnesses include:


hearingPanel I

Mr. Doug Vincent-Lang, Acting Director of Division of Wildlife Conservation Alaska Department of Fish and Game

The Honorable Reggie Joule, Member of Alaska House of Representatives

Mr. Rick Rogers, Executive Director of Resource Development Council for Alaska

Ms. Stephanie Madsen, National Committee Chair of United Fishermen of Alaska


Panel II

Ms. Kara Moriarty, Executive Director of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association

Mr. Fred Parady, Executive Director of the Alaska Miners Association

Ms. Rebecca Logan, General Manager of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance

Mr. John Sturgeon, Director of the Alaska Forest Association

Dr. John W. Farrell, Executive Director of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission



oil spill in open oceanOil-Well Blowout Response Plans Might be Inadequate for Arctic, GAO says.

A new federal report shows that questions remain about the ability of oil and gas operators and the government to respond to an offshore well blowout, particularly in cold Alaskan waters where Shell is seeking final approval to drill test wells. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report circulated Friday by Democratic Reps. Henry A. Waxman of California and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts comes on the heels of the March 28 approval of Shell's oil spill response plan for the Beaufort Sea by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. After years of delays, the company hopes to drill exploratory wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off the Alaska coast this summer. Congressional Quarterly 

Sampling the Pacific for Signs of Fukushima. An international research team is reporting the results of a research cruise they organized to study the amount, spread, and impacts of radiation released into the ocean from the tsunami-crippled reactors in Fukushima, Japan. The group of 17 researchers and technicians from eight institutions spent 15 days at sea in June 2011 studying ocean currents, and sampling water and marine organisms up to the edge of the exclusion zone around the reactors. Science Daily 


Seadrill Order a $650M Arctic-Ready Semisubmersible from Jurong Shipyard. Oil and gas companies have increased their level of activity in harsh environment and arctic areas considerably during the last years. This has translated into a growth in demand for high specification rigs for operations and a tight supply demand balance in such areas. Continued strong market fundamentals including the recent exploration successes in harsh environment create a sound basis for further growth in the North Atlantic region. In addition to demand for new rigs, there is also a need for replacement of older rigs. In response to this development, North Atlantic Drilling, a 74 percent-owned subsidiary of Seadrill, has entered into a turnkey construction contract with Jurong Shipyard in Singapore for the construction of a new harsh environment semi-submersible drilling rig. The new rig will be of a Moss CS60 design, N-Class compliant and be fully winterized to meet the harsh and demanding weather conditions in the North Atlantic areas. Maximum water depth will be 10,000 feet with a maximum drilling depth of 40,000 feet. Further, the rig will be outfitted with both DP3 dynamic positioning systems and complete anchor handling capabilities. The rig will have accommodation capacity for up to 150 people in Norway, whereas internationally the capacity will be 180. In order to meet the highest safety and operational standards, the rig will be outfitted with a six ram blow out preventer (BOP) stack and have the capacity for storing and handling of a second BOP. gCaptain 


Coast Guard SealCoast Guard Welcomes Russia's Northeast Border Guard Directorate. Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander of the 17th Coast Guard District, is hosting a bi-annual commanders meeting with Russian Lt. Gen. Rafael Daerbaev, chief of the Northeast Border Guard of the Coast Guard of the Russian Federal Security Service in Juneau this week to review joint operations and develop a plan for continued joint action in the future. These meetings are held to review ongoing and future operations for cooperative efforts to mitigate illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, conduct mutual maritime law enforcement and future activities in the Arctic, Bering Sea and the North Pacific. US Coast Guard 


Newfound Cog in the Ocean Conveyor: Scientists Confirm Existence of Previously Unknown Current. A decade into the 21st century, scientists have confirmed the existence of a new and apparently crucial ocean current on the face of the Earth. International teams led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) oceanographer Bob Pickart verified the previously unknown current near Iceland in 2008 and returned in 2011 to determine how it is formed. The current, called the North Icelandic Jet, is not merely a curiosity. Though relatively narrow, it is an important cog in the global oceanic conveyor of currents that transports equatorial heat to the North Atlantic region and tempers its climate. Learning how the current operates offers insights into potential monkey wrenches that could disrupt ocean circulation and lead to further climate changes. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 


NOAANOAA's Coastal Mapping Program Offers Huge Taxpayer Benefits, Report Says: Economic study shows value of program to coastal economies. For every dollar American taxpayers spend on NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS) Coastal Mapping Program, they receive more than $35 in benefits, according to a recent independent socio-economic scoping study. The program provides critical baseline data for accurately mapping America's official shoreline-important for national security, maritime shipping and navigation, and provides geographical reference data needed to manage, develop, conserve and protect coastal resources. The study demonstrates the program's contributions in marine safety, geographic information, resource management, and emergency response and the wide range of economic and societal activities it supports. NOAA

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 to follow. 


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.


[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. 



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