Arctic Update Header
March 19, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will consider small business legislation. The House will consider two bills under suspension of the rules.


Arctic High Priority Science Needs RFPs Announced. The Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (ALCC) announces the 2012 Request for Proposals for addressing high priority science needs in the Arctic. Priority for this year's funding will be given to those studies and planning efforts that address information needs identified by the ALCC's six Technical Working Groups, and members of the ALCC Steering Committee. The ALCC intends to fund projects addressing these themes:
- Interdisciplinary study plan integrating across one or more watersheds in the Alaska portion of the ALCC.
- Improved permafrost baseline information for Alaska portion of the Arctic LCC.
-Thermokarst monitoring at the landscape level: a feasibility study.
The submission deadline is April 3, 2012 at 5 pm AKDT. For further information, click here.


The Week at a Glance: March 19-23. The Senate will consider small business and import-export legislation. The House will consider two bills under suspension of the rules: immigration provision and malpractice legislation. Congressional Legislation


icebreakersLoose Lips Shouldn't Sink These [Canadian] Ships. Loose lips sink ships. In wartime Halifax, staging port for North Atlantic convoys, people took this slogan seriously. With good reason. Stopping convoys was the German navy's primary mission. There was a real risk unguarded talk in port could provide targeting information to enemy submarines.

Happily, the navy and Halifax have less cause to worry about loose lips today. At least not about the pair attached to Liberal Senator Colin Kenny. They're loose, but probably not dangerous. Kenny, former chairman of the Senate defense committee and a longtime critic of the decision to build Arctic patrol vessels, has created a stir by calling on Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to axe the ships in his March 29 budget. Winnipeg Free Press 


From New Offices to New Oil, Alaska Sees New of Life After The Big 3. Apache Corp., an independent oil company engrossed in an ambitious seismic exploration program to hunt for oil in Cook Inlet, has opened up digs in Anchorage. Apache's move is another sign that smallish and independent oil companies may be the wave of the future in Alaska, thanks in part to the state's tax credits designed to spark exploration -- something Alaska's big oil companies aren't doing much of these days. With several oil and gas companies staking new claims in Alaska in recent years, does that mean the 49th state is transitioning to an era less dominated by the so-called "Big Three," Exxon Mobil Corp., BP and ConocoPhillips? Alaska Dispatch 


Arctic Tree Line Not Moving as Fast as Thought, Despite Climate Change. A study released this month by Cambridge University indicates the advance of the treeline in the Arctic is moving slower than previously predicted. The study, which was released March 17 by Gareth Rees, a researcher with the university's Scott Polar Research Institute, says the relationship between climate change and tree growth is more complicated than initially thought. "To generalize our results, the tree line is definitely moving north on average but we do not see any evidence for rates as big as 2 kilometers per year anywhere along the Arctic rim," he said in a news release. "Where we have the most detailed information, our results suggest that a rate of around 100 meters per year is more realistic. In some places, the tree line is actually moving south. The predictions of a loss of 40 percent of the tundra by the end of the century is probably far too alarming." Alaska Dispatch 


Coast Guard SealCoast Guard Prepares for Arctic Drilling Protests. The Coast Guard chief of staff in Alaska says the agency is preparing for possible protests of petroleum drilling in Arctic waters at a port where support vessels may be staged. Capt. Buddy Custard told a legislative committee Friday in Juneau that the Coast Guard in June will deploy small boats in Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands as a law enforcement presence. Custard says protests in New Zealand that targeted a Shell Oil drilling ship leads the Coast Guard to believe that Dutch Harbor may also see protests. Anchorage Daily News 


Melting Arctic Ice Could Poison Ecosystems, Experts Say. Arctic sea ice that's been melting at a dramatic rate in the last few decades is releasing a chemical soup that could poison the food chain with mercury and other dangerous chemicals, a new study suggests. The NASA-led research that involved five members from the University of Manitoba will appear in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Geophysical Research. The team found that when the salt in sea ice, frigid temperatures and sunlight interact a chemical reaction releases bromine atoms into the atmosphere, which then mix with a gaseous form of mercury creating a pollutant that falls back to Earth. CTV News 


Researcher Risks Life and Limb So Polar Bears Can Endure. The learning curve to conduct polar bear research in the Arctic proved both steep and painful for Andrew Derocher. He was a young graduate student at the University of Alberta, working in the Beaufort Sea with a Northwest Territories wildlife officer. His task in the spring of 1986 was to catch and tag polar bears, including cubs that were travelling with their mothers. "I had never seen spring cubs before," Derocher recalls. "I had been instructed on how much drug to give them with the tiny syringe I had prepared. What I wasn't instructed on was how fast these cubs can move." Edmonton Journal 


Canada-Denmark Wrap Up Greenland Military Exercise: Canadian rangers helped Danish elite forces learn Arctic skills. Canadian Rangers from Nunavut headed back home March 16 after a two-week military exercise in northeastern Greenland, called "Arctic Training 2012," where they helped train members of Denmark's special forces and its Sirius dog team patrol unit. During the exercise, the Danes gained experience about snowmobiling, "where the Canadian Rangers have extensive experience," according to a Danish news release on the exercise- which was not publicized in Canada. Exercise participants also took a trip on the land, where they set up a camp to test polar bear alarms and other survival skills. Nunatsiaq Online 


WalrusSpeed Limits on Arctic Shipping Urged to Protect Marine Mammals: "The disappearance of summer sea ice from the region's coastal areas is leading to major changes." Environmentalists and Arctic aboriginal groups are urging speed limits on ships and other rules to protect marine mammals as the Northwest Passage and other polar transportation routes become more heavily travelled in an era of retreating sea ice. The U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society and native organizations, including the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), issued a call on Friday for northern countries to acknowledge the rising risks to northern marine creatures resulting from the "rapid increase in shipping in the formerly ice-choked waterways of the Arctic." Of particular concern, the groups stated after a three-day workshop on the issue, is the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska, an ecologically rich but relatively narrow choke point for ships travelling through both the Northern Sea Route north of Russia and the Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic islands. Nunatsiaq Online 


[Alaska] House Agrees Standards for Shipping, Oil Pollution Preparedness Needed. The House today agreed with the Senate's request that the Arctic Council Task Force consider Alaska's interests in establishing standards for shipping and oil pollution preparedness for Arctic waters. Bethel Democrat Bob Herron, in presenting the resolution that had already passed the Senate, said the state is looking for requirements that all vessels in the Aleutians and the Bering Straits have adequate oil spill contingency plans, and that they voluntarily comply with the state's oil spill and response rules. "As you know, there have been recent events that have impacted the Aleutian Islands. Cooperation will be the key in successful prevention-response efforts. We don't have jurisdiction over international waters. But this is one way that Alaska will be able to protect our shores by participating in this important dialog." Alaska Public Radio 


Legislature Working to Develop Arctic Policy Commission. The state legislature is making progress toward establishing an Arctic policy commission. At a hearing of the House Finance Committee on Wednesday, Rep. Reggie Joule explained that even though Alaska is the country's only Arctic state, it's often left out of conversations about federal policy concerning the region. He thinks that having a body responsible for developing an Arctic strategy would give the state more credibility with regulators in Washington. "When we went and addressed the State Department, the Department of the Interior, it is amazing what people do not know about our state that should be basic," said Joule. "And they get to make budget decisions. And I think it's imperative that the legislature stay involved in this process." Alaska Public Radio 


ScienceCanadians Donate $10,000 to Save Arctic Research Station: PEARL forced to stop year-round monitoring of greenhouse gases, pollution. Canadians have donated about $10,000 to help keep a unique High Arctic research station from closing after its federal funding stops, says the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences. The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory, or PEARL, is the northern-most civilian research station in Canada. The laboratory takes measurements on greenhouse gases and ozone and verifies the accuracy of satellite data, among other things. It contributes data to several international projects monitoring climate change. "Donations range from $5 up to over $1,000 and they come from coast to coast, from students, from people from all walks of life who are responding to the fact that this unique research station will not continue," said Dawn Conway, executive director of the foundation. CBC News 


Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Supports AVCP Salmon Initiatives. The ICC is an international Indigenous Peoples' Organization representing about 160-thousand Inuit living in the Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Chukotka, Russia. The Association of Village Council Presidents, AVCP, has been a member since its creation over 30-years ago. The Alaska ICC President was at the Historic State of the Salmon convention. Sophie Evan talked with him about his perspective. KYUK 


The World's Glaciers, Inventoried. Since 1999, NOAA@NSIDC has worked with the World Glacier Monitoring Service to make its World Glacier Inventory (WGI) available online. While the WGI cannot truly claim to have all the world's glaciers, it now has over 130,000.  The NOAA@NSIDC team worked with an intern from the WGMS to update the documentation and add almost 26,000 records. The WGI is a reference data resource for the world's glaciologists. National Snow and Ice Data Center 


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.


American Polar Society 75th Anniversary Meeting and Symposium, "The Polar Regions in the 21st Century: Globalization, Climate Change and Geopolitics", May 2-4, 2012, 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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