Arctic Update Header
June 25, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


This Week: This week the House is expected to consider the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill and the Agriculture appropriations bill. The House Appropriations Committee is slated to take up the Interior-Environment appropriations bill. The Senate will consider flood insurance legislation.


Preserving Strategic Partnerships & Preparing for Transnational Threats, June 25-28, 2012. United States European Command and United States Africa Command hosts a science and technology conference. A session on the Arctic is scheduled to begin at 8am on Thursday. The schedule is available here.


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




losUnited States Debates Joining Law of the Sea. The United Nations treaty that governs the world's oceans is once again being discussed in Congress. It's been 30 years since the U.N. Law of the Sea was first established, and the United States still hasn't ratified the treaty. The Law of the Sea defines a nation's rights and responsibilities in, on and under the world's oceans and has global implications for national security, commerce and the environment. Currently, 162 countries have ratified the treaty, including nearly every major developed country except the U.S. Democratic Senator John Kerry is once again taking up the treaty as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. He recently began holding hearings on the Law of the Sea, the most recent of which was earlier this month. PRI  


canadian flagCanada's Arctic Defense Policy: Grand Theory, Stunted Practice [Opinion]. Canada's current government made a lot of noise in 2006 and 2007, calling for a total overhaul of Canada's military presence in the Arctic. Is Canada really on its way to becoming an Arctic military power, or was that all said in the heat of the electoral moment asks Zachary Fillingham of the Geopoliticalmonitor. A Canadian politician poses in front of the Arctic survey ship currently featured on the Canadian fifty dollar bill.There is a wide scientific consensus that the Arctic climate is changing, and the only question that remains centres around the exact time when seasonal ice will recede enough for the Northwest Passage to become a major international trade route. According to polar scientists like Dr. David Barber of the Circumpolar Flaw League, this may happen as soon as 2017. Eura Review


We Should be Following Denmark's Lead. [Opinion] The level of atmospheric carbon dioxide hit a record 400 parts per million in May 2012, a milestone that should send a chill of concern through anyone who is remotely concerned about the disturbing ramifications of global warming. Little solace should come from the fact that this concentration of greenhouse gas was only reached in the Arctic regions of Alaska, Iceland, Norway, Greenland and Mongolia, and will dip slightly as plants in the Northern Hemisphere absorbs some of it during the summer months of growth. As for the rest of the planet, however, levels have risen during the last year from 391 to 395 ppm, up from the pre-industrial reference number of 280 ppm. We are now at the highest known concentration in at least 800,000 years, according to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Research Lab in Boulder, Colorado. The rest of the planet will probably reach the 400 ppm milestone within two years as carbon dioxide concentrations increase and equalize. The NOAA reports that the decade from 2000 to 2009 was the warmest ever recorded in human history. Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency recently announced that global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels in 2011 hit a record high of 34.8 billion tonnes, up 3.2 percent from 2010. The Windsor Star


BSEEGreenpeace Asks Court to Stay Injunction; BSEE calls for more tests. As Shell moves closer to drilling in the Arctic this summer, Greenpeace is asking a court to stay an injunction against the environmental group while an appeals process plays out. In March, federal District Court in Alaska banned the environmental group from occupying any of 19 vessels Shell plans to use for exploratory drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas this summer. In May, the court amended the injunction, banning Greenpeace from occupying the vessels not only in U.S. ports and waters, but also in the U.S. exclusive economic zone, or EEZ, and to certain facilities in the town of Barrow. Greenpeace has already appealed the injunction, but said that allowing the ruling to remain in place while the appeals process plays out would have "an improper chilling effect on the free speech rights of one of the environmental advocacy organizations most uniquely situated to comment on Shell's potentially disastrous Arctic drilling campaign." Petroleum News 


NATO in the Arctic: Challenges and Opportunities. The Arctic region is becoming increasingly important for a number of geostrategic reasons. Thawing ice allows lucrative shipping lanes to open and increases the possibility of natural resource exploration. Since four of the five Arctic littoral countries, in addition to Iceland, are also members of NATO, the alliance cannot afford to ignore the Arctic. The U.S. should make the Arctic a higher priority for NATO while working to allay the concerns of Canada, which is wary of a stronger NATO presence in the Arctic. The Heritage Foundation 


Murkowski LisaMurkowski: Administration's Consultation Policies Failing Tribes: Tribal consultation a "legal, fiduciary and moral obligation that must be honored." Senator Lisa Murkowski today urged President Barack Obama to follow through on the federal government's commitments and fulfill the expectations surrounding tribal consultation - enumerating the core frustrations and federal agency shortfalls she is hearing from many of Alaska's 229 federally recognized Tribes. In her letter to the White House (attached), she stresses that the requirements of notice and meaningful consultation with Alaska's Tribes appear to be being violated by numerous federal agencies.  Of the promise of essential government-to-government consultation, she writes: "Consultation is a term that has been said to embody your Administration's approach to federal Indian policy. Let us not regress to an era where the federal government made systematic promises to Tribal governments that it had no intention of keeping." Senator Lisa Murkowski 


Bowhead Whale Hunting BarrowMurkowski: Whaling Defines Alaska Natives as a People. Senator Lisa Murkowski spoke at a Capitol Hill event hosted by the Ocean Caucus Foundation to educate embassy officials from many countries active in the International Whaling Commission on the importance and role of subsistence whaling in Alaska.  As the Senate considered over 70 amendments to the Farm Bill, Murkowski shared with the attendees that in Alaska, a harvest critical to northern coastal communities comes not from our land but our water, saying: "The whale has sustained a people, a culture since time immemorial... I think it is important to recognize that to the Inupiat, whaling is not just about the physical sustenance having something to eat, it defines who they are as a people." Senator Lisa Murkowski

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered Friday.

Future Events               


Law of the Sea Convention: Perspectives from Business & Industry, June 28, 2012. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold another hearing on the Law of the Sea Convention, this hearing to focus on the impacts on business and industry.  Witnesses including, president of the US Chamber of Commerce Thomas Donohue, president of the American Petroleum Institute Jack Gerard, president of the National Association of Manufacturers Jay Timmons, and chairman of Verizon Communications Lowell McAdam.


healthmeetinglogo15th 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 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.


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


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.


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.


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.  

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