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June 15, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are not in session today.

  Dave Benton

President Obama names fisheries expert David Benton to the US Arctic Research Commission. In naming Benton (and another appointee to a different entity), the President said, "I am grateful these accomplished individuals have agreed to join this Administration, and I'm confident they will serve ably in these important roles. I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years."


Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) said, "Dave Benton brings years of experience in both the public and private sectors. We look to the Arctic Research Commission to guide the scientific efforts needed to understand the change underway in the Arctic and ensure future development is compatible with its ecosystems and the subsistence needs of its residents. Dave brings a wide and varied perspective as we look to address research needs in the rapidly changing Arctic."


Benton is a former Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He served as chairman of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the North Pacific Research Board. Benton subsequently worked as Executive Director of the Marine Conservation Alliance, a coalition of fishermen, processors, and communities involved in Alaska's groundfish and shellfish fisheries. He is currently self-employed in Juneau as marine resource consultant.

President Obama re-appoints Dr. Charles Vörösmarty and Dr. Warren Zapol, M.D. to the USARC. Vörösmarty has made significant contributions on Arctic hydrography, and on the issue of "scaling" of Arctic research. Zapol has focused on Arctic human health issues. He co-authored an issue of the journal International Journal of Circumpolar Health on the proceedings of a workshop on "Behavioral and Mental Health Research in the Circumpoalr Arctic." Both will receive 4-year terms, ending 2/26/16.  


Nominations are requested for the SCICEX Science Advisory Committee. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) request nominations for the SCICEX Science Advisory Committee (SAC). SCICEX (Science Ice Exercise) is the US Federal inter-agency submarine Arctic science program. The SAC advises the Federal agencies on scientific priorities, makes recommendations for baseline data collection, and periodically reviews these and updates the SCICEX Phase II Science Plan. The SAC members represent the fields of sea ice geophysics, physical oceanography, biological oceanography and marine geophysics. The SAC typically meets once per year, usually at either ONR or NSF. Nominations are currently sought for a sea ice geophysicist and marine geophysicist. Nominations should include the name, scientific background and accomplishments of the nominee, and a brief statement as to why they would be a good choice for SAC membership. Experience with submarine-based science is not required. Nominations should be sent to Dr. Martin Jeffries ( and Dr. Erica Key ( no later than 31 July 2012. For more information about SCICEX, including the current SAC membership and the Phase II Science Plan, go to



losRepublicans Spar Among Themselves Over Law of the Sea Treaty. Prominent Republicans laid out dueling perspectives on the Law of the Sea treaty Thursday, highlighting a split between the internationalist and more conservative wings of the party on foreign policy that Democrats hope to exploit if treaty ratification comes up for a vote later this year. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., largely sat back and let two former officials in the George W. Bush administration - Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and State Department legal adviser John B. Bellinger III - make the argument for why the United States should ratify the multilateral pact (Treaty Doc 103-39), which governs nations' commercial, military and environmental rights in the open seas. Congressional Quarterly 


KerrySen. Kerry on Why US Must Sign Law of the Sea Convention, Shape Arctic Policy. Senator John Kerry is bringing out the top brass Thursday in his effort to get the United States to finally sign on to the Law of the Sea Convention, which many environmentalists and oil and gas industry officials agree is required for successful and safe exploration of the Arctic Circle. At hearings scheduled before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, is calling no fewer than six four-star generals and admirals who are expected to testify in support of the Treaty that has already been ratified by 162 countries. "For reasons of economic competitiveness and national security, the vast array of experts believe signing this treaty is necessary," Kerry said in an interview with GlobalPost. Alaska Dispatch 


Arctic Sea Ice Coverage Variable, Ends May Below Average Data Center. After reaching near-average levels in late April, sea ice extent in the Arctic declined rapidly during the early part of May, says the Colorado-based National Snow and Ice Data Center in its recent report on sea ice coverage in the Arctic. The rest of May saw a slower rate of decline, it said. Arctic sea ice extent for May 2012 averaged 13.13 million square kilometres. That's still 480,000 sq. km. below the 1979 to 2000 average extent. Nunatsiaq Online


Arctic MapToo Much to Fight Over: Arctic countries have decided to join hands and gorge on Arctic resources. The geopolitics of the new Arctic entered the mainstream on August 2nd 2007. Descending by Mir submersible to a depth of over 4km, a Russian-led expedition planted a titanium Russian flag beneath the North Pole (pictured). The news shocked the world. The Lomonosov ridge under the Pole, which is probably rich in minerals, is claimed by Russia, Canada and Denmark. The Russians, it was assumed, were asserting their claim, perhaps even launching a scramble for Arctic resources. One of their leaders, Artur Chilingarov, Russia's leading polar explorer and a Putin loyalist, fanned the flames. "The Arctic has always been Russian," he declared. Yet the expedition turned out to have been somewhat international, initiated by an Australian entrepreneur and a retired American submarine captain, and paid for by a Swedish pharmaceuticals tycoon. The Economist


Arctic Route Helps Owners Slash Fuel Cost. The debate regarding working in and around the Arctic is multi-tiered, with environmental, technical and emergency response heading the list. There is no debate regarding the fuel, money and emissions to be saved by shortening select global shipping routes. In a report from Bloomberg news posted June 13 on, it was said there will be a rise in dry bulk cargoes hauled through Arctic waters this season, a journey that can halve shipping time compared to some Suez Canal shipments, and simultaneously reduce fuel consumption, costs and emissions. The report Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S plans to transport about six to eight 70,000 metric-ton shipments of iron ore to China from the Russian port of Murmansk starting in July. According to the Bloomberg report, which cited a Nordic Bulk executive, this route will shave 1,000 tons of fuel, and an estimated $650k, from the journey. According to the company, Nordic Bulk made the first Arctic voyage with a commercial mineral cargo in 2010 and another last year, according to its website. MarineLink


Northern Route Transits to Hit High. Russia to China bulk cargoes shipped by Nordic Bulk Carriers via the Northern Sea Route may save them $650,000 on fuel. According to Bloomberg, cargoes of dry-bulk commodities hauled through Arctic waters are set to rise to a record this year as shipping companies use the route to almost halve journey times compared with Suez Canal shipments. Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S plans to transport about six to eight 70,000 metric-ton shipments of iron ore to China from the Russian port of Murmansk starting in July, according to Director Christian Bonfils. Using the so-called Northern Sea Route for the journey instead of the canal saves 1,000 tons of fuel, or $650,000, he told Bloomberg. Maritime Professional

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


S. 3298, A bill to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to establish the Federal Oil Spill Research Committee, and to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to include in a response plan, certain planned and demonstrated investments in research relating to discharges of oil and to modify the dates by which a response plan must be updated (Cantwell, introduced)


S. 3299, A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Indian tribes to receive charitable contributions of apparently wholesome food (Murkowski, introduced) 

Future Events               


The Institute of the North hosts Arctic-related events. For details, go here. Three upcoming events, all in Anchorage, AK are: (a) Commercial Applications of Northern Airships, July 31-Aug 2, Federal Research: Priorities and Processes, August 13, and Northern Energy Technology and Science Fair, August 15.


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.


98th meeting of the US Arctic Research Commission. Aug. 9-10. Fairbanks, AK. More info coming soon. 


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. 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.   

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