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August 13, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate have adjourned for the August recess.


Week of the Arctic, August 13-18, 2012. The Arctic is front and center in peoples' minds.  Increased maritime traffic and new opportunities for development have brought about more reasons to understand and work toward safe and secure operations both on land and off Alaska's coast. To help Alaskans understand these critical challenges and issues at stake in the Arctic, the Institute convened the first Week of the Arctic last year, drawing over 550 participants to five events in four days. The 2012 Week of the Arctic will take place August 13-18 in Anchorage, Alaska. Week of the Arctic events will include:

The Week of the Arctic's signature event is the annual Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award Dinner on Friday, August 17th. This year we'll be recognizing Red Dog Mine for their sustainable development in the North.



polar bear ice Polar Bear Scientist Opposed Oil-Industry Research Initiative. A researcher who became the subject of an unexplained US government investigation last year has been under scrutiny in part for his role in advancing a US $1.8-million government-led research effort to integrate scientific studies of the Arctic environment, Nature has learned. Charles Monnett, a wildlife biologist and former contracting official with the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in Anchorage, Alaska, was suspended from his post in July 2011 because of undisclosed "integrity issues". Monnett was later assigned to a different position within the Bureau. Previously, his job involved the review and oversight of contracts awarded to outside research groups, but he is better known for his report  in 2006 of drowned polar bears in the Beaufort Sea, which helped to make the animal a poster species for climate change. Nature 


Rate of Arctic Summer Sea Ice Loss is 50% Higher Than Predicted: New satellite images show polar ice coverage dwindling in extent and thickness. Sea Ice in the Arctic is disappearing at a far greater rate than previously expected, according to data from the first purpose-built satellite launched to study the thickness of the Earth's polar caps. Preliminary results from the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 probe indicate that 900 cubic kilometers of summer sea ice has disappeared from the Arctic Ocean over the past year. This rate of loss is 50% higher than most scenarios outlined by polar scientists and suggests that global warming, triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions, is beginning to have a major impact on the region. In a few years the Arctic Ocean could be free of ice in summer, triggering a rush to exploit its fish stocks, oil, minerals and sea routes. Using instruments on earlier satellites, scientists could see that the area covered by summer sea ice in the Arctic has been dwindling rapidly. But the new measurements indicate that this ice has been thinning dramatically at the same time. For example, in regions north of Canada and Greenland, where ice thickness regularly stayed at around five to six meters in summer a decade ago, levels have dropped to one to three meters. The Guardian  

Coast Guard Seal 

Coast Guard Eyes All-Terrain Vehicles to Take on Arctic Ocean. Top U.S. Coast Guard officials say the agency is well-prepared for Arctic missions, even as the agency shops for an amphibious Arctic craft that can handle treacherous sea ice and extreme cold off Alaska's northern coast.  Nationwide the agency operates scores of response boats that do everything from conduct rescues to fight fires to bust drug-runners to help defend America's coastline. But there's no fleet based in the U.S. Arctic, where an increasing number of ships ply the frigid seas off Alaska's shores in support of oil development, shipping and tourism. As a result, the Coast Guard is looking for a versatile patrol vessel that fits into a C-130, a large cargo plane, and can be launched from shore to negotiate ice-choked seas, big waves and the Arctic coast's ever-shifting sands, the Coast Guard's research center announced this year. Alaska Dispatch


 Can Alaska Tap Huge Reserve of Shale Oil, Gas on North Slope? If Alaska's North Slope joins the shale revolution, there's likely plenty of natural gas to be found, according to a new analysis from the U.S. Geological Survey. The report pegs the mean estimate of shale gas at 42 trillion cubic feet (tcf) that could be produced with current technology. That's almost twice the volume of gas the entire United States consumed last year. But in a recent presentation in Anchorage, David Houseknecht, the USGS research geologist who wrote the analysis, cautioned that the estimates are squishy due to lack of drilling into the shale strata. It's possible that no North Slope shale gas can be recovered, although he doubted that this would be the outcome of future drilling. Despite the abundance of natural gas on the North Slope, little is produced and marketed because there is no pipeline to carry it to consumers. However, three major North Slope producers - ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP - and pipeline company TransCanada are jointly studying  whether to pursue a multibillion-dollar project that would export liquefied natural gas to Asian and other markets. They're also querying potential shippers about their interest in a pipeline from the North Slope to Alberta to feed North American markets. Alaska Dispatch 


Mysterious Rock-Covered Iceberg Found Near Barrow. When Richard Glenn and Craig George heard a report from a seal tagging team that there was a large piece of ice north of Point Barrow with "rocks on it," their response was immediate. "I mentioned it to Richard and he said, 'Get in the boat, let's go,'" said George, adding that they really didn't think they would find it when they set off July 29 but Richard recognized the significance. But, as it turned out, the large piece of ice was exactly where the seal team had said it was, about 12 nautical miles northeast of Point Barrow - meaning it was likely grounded in more than 80 feet of water. And it was very unusual indeed. George, Glenn and several others who came along found a 230-by-660-foot iceberg that was about 25 feet above the sealine on one face. It was covered with striations and rocks, suggesting it might well have been part of a glacier. The ice had long streaks in it and one end was covered with angular rocks and granite boulders unlike anything found anywhere near Barrow. The Arctic Sounder

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal action was taken on Arctic legislation.

Future Events    



2nd Cargo Airships of Northern Operations Workshop, August 22-24, 2012. Researchers from NASA Ames Research Center will provide insights into the new technologies that form the solid engineering basis for modern cargo airship systems. Speakers from the mining, oil, and gas industries will describe their transportation challenges and how they plan to exploit cargo airships in support of their businesses. Local Alaskan air freight firms will discuss how cargo airships can complement existing air transport fleets by providing additional capability and expanding air shipping services. The world's leading developers of airships will provide design and operational details on new cargo airships they're currently developing and preparing to deploy for commercial service. Representatives from the financial community will present the many options available for what has often been the missing element of airship development and operations, funding. The website will soon be updated. 


The Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24-27, 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.


10th Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, September 5-7, 2012. The 10th Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region will take place in Akureyri, Iceland 5-7 September 2012. The conference will be attended by members of parliament from the eight Arctic countries and the European Parliament, Arctic indigenous peoples and a variety of observers. The main items on the agenda are:

1.       Arctic Governance and the Arctic Council

2.       Economic opportunities in the Arctic

3.       Human Development in the Arctic: Interplay of Research, Authorities and Residents


The Conference will adopt a statement directed to the Arctic Council, the governments in the Arctic Region and the institutions of the European Union.


inuitconferencelogoArctic/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.  


28th Wakefield Symposium: Responses of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change, March 26-29, 2013. This symposium seeks to advance our understanding of  responses of arctic marine ecosystems to climate change at all trophic levels, by documenting and forecasting changes in environmental processes and species responses to those changes. Presentations will focus on collaborative approaches to understanding and managing living marine resources in a changing Arctic, and to managing human responses to changing arctic marine ecosystems. Hosted by Alaska Sea Grant and sponsors.

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