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May 24, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will consider amendments to a bill to reauthorize the Food and Drug Administration. The Senate is then expected to consider legislation to prevent student loan interest rate increases and a short term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program. 


Outer Continental Shelf Scientific Committee, May 22-24, 2012. The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Scientific Committee (SC) is a chartered entity through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to consider feasibility, appropriateness, and scientific value of BOEM's OCS Environmental Studies Program. The next meeting will occur in Santa Barbara, CA. Issues to be covered at the meeting include:

  • An Integrated Scientific Approach to Arctic Sustainability: An International Partnership on Arctic Science Engineering and Education for Sustainability (ArcSEES)
  • Modeling of the Ecosystem Dynamics in the Alaskan Arctic Ocean
  • Chukchi Acoustic, Oceanography and Zooplankton Study: Hanna Shoal (Extension of CHAOZ)
  • Walrus Seasonal Distribution and Habitat Use in the Eastern Chukchi Sea
  • Subsistence Mapping of Wainwright, Point Lay, and Point Hope
  • Cook Inlet Circulation Model Calculations
  • Arctic Air Quality Impact Assessment Modeling
  • Enhanced Verification and Interpretation of Arctic Ice Formation, Distribution, and Density
  • Physical and Chemical Analyses of Crude and Refined Oils: Laboratory and Mesoscale Oil Weathering
  • A Cultural Resource Survey of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas

A link to the complete agenda is available here.


NOAA's Hydrographic Services Review Panel meeting, May 22-24, 2012 in Anchorage, Alaska. This federal advisory committee will discuss improvements to navigation services that NOAA provides for Alaska and the Arctic. Topics include new nautical charts and navigation safety, emerging commercial shipping needs, accuracy of land elevation data for coastal management, and natural hazard warning and response for the Alaska/Arctic region. The public is invited, and can provide comments during the May 23 and 24 afternoon sessions. For more information, click here.





A Whale of a Discovery: New sensory organ found in rorqual whales. Rorquals are a subgroup of baleen whales -- including blue, fin, minke and humpback whales. They are characterized by a special, accordion-like blubber layer that goes from the snout to the navel. Scientists at the University of British Columbia and the Smithsonian Institution have discovered a sensory organ in rorqual whales that coordinates its signature lunge-feeding behaviour -- and may help explain their enormous size. Science Daily


The Arctic: Economic Promise or Environmental Peril? The fervor to move shipping routes and energy business north of the Arctic Circle is palpable, as countries with physical connection and even 'non-Arctic' states are making moves and plans to stake claims to the vast potential that lies within. While the maritime and subsea technology allowing ops in the Arctic's harsh environs has moved forward fast, there are repeated and regular 'warning shots across the bow' of budding entrepreneurs large and small, as the Arctic environment is still largely undeveloped territory, representing risky operations for even the heartiest of souls. Last month in New London, Connecticut, at the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA), the USCGA and the Law of the Sea Institute from the University of California's Berkeley School of Law convened a conference dubbed "Leadership for the Arctic," a meeting which brought together government, academia and commerce to discuss the promise and peril north of the Arctic Circle. While discussions encompassed an array of technical, logistical and political matters, the overriding theme of the conference was 'leadership', or more specifically the vacuum of global leadership in matters governing the Arctic. "What we have is an ocean being used more than any time in history without any regulation," summarized Lawson W. Brigham, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Geography and Arctic Policy, University of Alaska - Fairbanks. "There is a lot of work to be done in the future." Marine Link


canadian flagStrengthening Economic Top Canadian Priority: survey. Canadians have done an about-face and ranked strengthening the economy as the top priority for government compared to last year when crime and punishment was number one. Coming in third, fourth and fifth this year were food and production safety regulations, asserting Arctic sovereignty and rebuilding the armed forces. They stood at 21.8 per cent, 4.1 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively. There was stronger support for Arctic sovereignty and the armed forces last year. CTV  


Alaska Editorial: Law of the Sea - US should approve treaty. The U.S. Senate is again poised to take up the proposed Law of the Sea treaty, which has languished for 30 years. It remains a missing piece in the puzzle of future Arctic development. The treaty has been approved by 161 nations and all of the world's industrialized countries and those that have Arctic territory - with the exception of the United States. The treaty, which is supported by Alaska's U.S. senators, enjoys broad bipartisan support in the U.S., as well as from industry, environmental and military leaders, but its approval has been blocked by those who claim it would relinquish U.S. sovereignty. Juneau Empire 


United NationsForeign Relations Committee Holds First in a Series of Hearings on Importance of "Law of the Sea" to US. A series of hearings on the United States' ratification of the Law of the Sea kicked off today by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  The convention allows the U.S. to claim oil, gas and other mineral resources on the continental shelf beyond the current 200 mile limit, and also protects the Navy and Coast Guard's freedom of navigation and rights to visit foreign ships. In a prepared statement, U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) welcomed the hearings. "The Law of the Sea is key to ensuring Alaska's Arctic future. Unless the U.S. ratifies the treaty, our oil and gas companies won't be able to develop resources on our extended continental shelf beyond 200 miles," said Begich.  "We'd leave hundreds of billions of dollars in oil and gas resources on the table and miss a chance to make Alaska bigger. I applaud the Foreign Relations committee for starting the hearing process on this treaty, and I look forward to continuing to examine it in the Oceans Subcommittee that I chair." Sit News 


Japanese Ministry Panel to Study New Arctic Ocean Trade Route. The transport ministry plans to set up a panel of experts to study the potential new trade route to Europe via the Arctic Ocean, sources said Wednesday. The envisioned northern sea route would be around 40 percent shorter than traditional routes to Europe via the Strait of Malacca, the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal, and would thus also help to cut fuel costs and carbon dioxide emissions. The route has attracted mounting global attention in recent years, as the decreasing volume of Arctic sea ice due to global warming has increased its viability. Japan Times 


Alaska State Rep. Reggie Joule Will Not Seek Reelection. Eight-term Alaska Rep. Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue, announced on Wednesday that he will not seek re-election. Joule chairs the Legislature's Bush Caucus, and has served since 1996. According to a press release, the decision came after consulting long and hard with his family. "The foundation we laid with the Northern Waters Task Force and the creation of the Arctic Policy Commission this past session will be a hallmark of success for the future of Alaska," Joule said. "We began laying the groundwork for advancing Arctic policy and meeting some of our energy and livability challenges. I look forward to see how our State continues to build on this foundation as I work on other opportunities and challenges closer to home." Alaska Dispatch

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events               


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.  


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 24-28, 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.   


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