Arctic Update Header
October 16, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are not in session. 



sikuliaq2Advanced Oceanographic Research Ship on Its Way to Alaska. The R/V Sikuliaq is one big splash closer to arriving in Alaska. Hundreds of people endured wind and rain to attend the christening and launch ceremony for the 261-foot vessel, the first built for the National Science Foundation in more than three decades. The crowd stood back and cheered as the Sikuliaq slid into the Menomonee River, sending an impressive spray of water over the dock. The R/V Sikuliaq, pronounced "see-KOO-lee-ack," is owned by the National Science Foundation and will be operated by the Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. The ship was designed by Seattle-based Glosten Associates and is being built by Marinette Marine Corporation. Construction work will continue throughout the winter. UAF is slated to take control of the ship next summer and it is expected to arrive in its homeport of Seward, Alaska by January 2014. Laboratory Equipment


An Arctic Mercury Meltdown. When people think of mercury, says Daniel Jacob, they tend to think of the element in its silvery, fluid state-the stuff to avoid if a thermometer breaks. "It's a fascinating metal in that it is liquid at room temperature, but it is present in the atmosphere as an elemental gas," says the Vasco McCoy, Family professor of atmospheric chemistry and environmental engineering at Harvard. "It's really amazing." Amazing, but potentially very dangerous. At high levels, mercury is a toxin that can impair neurological development in children and affect the adult nervous system. Jacob has been studying the movement of atmospheric mercury for the last decade or so, and has been particularly interested in how and why it shows up at elevated levels in the Arctic-in both the atmosphere and the food cycle. Conventional wisdom, he says, was that emissions from coal combustion and mining in North America, Europe, and-increasingly-Asia were drifting over the Arctic and depositing the mercury via precipitation. Harvard Magazine


AK Native family drawingNative Elders, Youth Discuss Everything from Education to Suicide. Hundreds of Alaska Native youth and elders from all corners of Alaska are in Anchorage this week to share their lives and learn from one another. The annual Elders and Youth Conference, hosted by First Alaskans Institute, precedes by three days the Alaska Federation of Natives convention. It encourages youth to take pride in their Native identity while linking today's young people with living culture bearers -- village elders. Woven together, these generations can be the fabric through which lives and communities change. The three-day event, held at the Dena'ina Convention Center in downtown Anchorage, includes keynote speeches, cultural presentations, and workshops on a variety of aspects of modern Native life: education, health, culture, law and policy. Alaska Dispatch 


Bowhead Whale Hunting BarrowArctic Ocean Delivers Bowhead Bounty for Alaska Subsistence Whalers. After a relatively safe and successful fall whaling season, most North Slope crews are nearly finished with whaling efforts, though some farther west communities will still go out. A total of 15 whales have been landed, and only one was lost after being struck. A successful spring hunt in Barrow landed 14 bowhead whales and lost eight, which fulfilled their annual quota. Barrow crews still went out for fall whaling, however, after strikes were transferred to the larger community. Two strikes were transferred from the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission bank, and four from Kivalina, which did not fill its quota in the spring. Alaska Dispatch


Officials to Cull Bison Herd Awaiting Release in Alaska Wilderness. More than four years after importing a herd of wood bison from Canada to release into the Alaska wilderness, the animals still are being held behind fences at a wildlife conservation center south of Anchorage. State and federal bureaucrats have spent the last 2 1/2 years wrestling over a special rule under the federal Endangered Species Act and allow the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to release the animals on the Innoko Flats in Southwest Alaska. Now, as a result of the delay, state game managers say the captive herd has grown too big and the department will kill 10 older bulls this winter "as part of a husbandry effort to maintain a healthy captive herd," according to press release issued Monday. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


NOAAState of the Climate: Global Analysis, September 2012. Temperature anomalies and percentiles are shown on the gridded maps below. The anomaly map on the left is a product of a merged land surface temperature (Global Historical Climatology Network, GHCN) and sea surface temperature (ERSST.v3b) anomaly analysis developed by Smith et al. (2008). Temperature anomalies for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCDC's Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page. The September 2012 Global State of the Climate report introduces percentile maps that complement the information provided by the anomaly maps. These new maps on the right provide additional information by placing the temperature anomaly observed for a specific place and time period into historical perspective, showing how the most current month, season or year compares with the past. NOAA

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events                      


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.  


Foreign Policy Panel Debate: "Is the Law of the Sea Treaty in the United States' Best Interests?" October 30, 2012. The American Academy of Diplomacy and the World Affairs Council cosponsor a panel discussion on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.  


U.S.-Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum (2012) Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum 2012, November 13-15, 2012. The Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum is a biannual event with representation from government, industry, academia, Aboriginal groups, and northerners from both Canada and the United States. The forum provides an opportunity for United States and Canadian decision makers, regulators, Aboriginals, industry members, non-governmental organizations and scientists to discuss current scientific research and future directions for northern oil and gas activities. The focus is on technical, scientific, and engineering research that can be applied to support management and regulatory processes related to oil and gas exploration and development in the North. The North Slope Science Initiative and the U.S. Department of the Interior is hosting, in partnership with our counterparts in Canada and the United States, the third United States - Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum from November 13 to 15, 2012, at the Hilton Hotel, Anchorage, Alaska. The Forum will showcase the value of Northern scientific research in support of sound decision-making for oil and gas management. 


Wakefield28th 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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