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September 21, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will continue to consider legislation to fund government operations after September 30, 2012. Votes are expected over the weekend. The House will consider environment and energy legislation. 


US-Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum Extends Abstract Submittal Period to Friday. The US Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum will be held in Anchorage in November. Forum organizers have extended their call for abstracts through today. More information is available here.



Nunavut's Mysterious Ancient Life Could Return by 2100 as Arctic Warms. Global climate change means that recently discovered ancient forests in Canada's extreme north could one day return, according to Alexandre Guertin-Pasquier of the University of Montreal's Department of Geography, who is presenting his findings at the Canadian Paleontology Conference in Toronto today. Science Daily 


capitalDems Ask to Extend House Session. House Democratic leaders are calling on Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to keep the chamber in session to tie up loose ends ahead of November's elections. House GOP leaders have planned to recess Friday for a seven-week break that extends for a week beyond the Nov. 6 elections. That follows a five-week August break from which Congress returned just 10 days ago. The Hill  


Arctic Sea Ice Hits Smallest Extent in Satellite Era. The frozen cap of the Arctic Ocean appears to have reached its annual summertime minimum extent and broken a new record low on Sept. 16, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has reported. Analysis of satellite data by NASA and the NASA-supported NSIDC at the University of Colorado in Boulder showed that the sea ice extent shrank to 1.32 million square miles (3.41 million square kilometers). Science Daily 


The 'Big Melt' at the Roof of the World. Dig into the history of polar exploration and you might wonder what all the fuss is about with this month's news of a record sea-ice melt in the Arctic. In 1893, the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen ventured through the "titanic forces" of the ice, amid the "howlings and thunderings" of the floes splitting around his ship, the Fram, but then found himself in a stretch of open water. The same had happened the day before. And this was within striking distance of the North Pole - Nansen eventually reached 86 degrees North, further than anyone at the time. And no one back then had even thought of global warming. BBC News


Concerns Voiced About Introduction of Invasive Species. A government employees group says that as the Interior Department permits offshore oil exploration in the Alaskan Arctic, they may unwittingly be allowing introduction of invasive species to the state's waters. Documents posted Sept 17. by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility note that invasive species impacts analyses were removed from federal environmental review for offshore exploratory permits. "The prospect of invasive introductions continues to loom as a real danger with experts warning that gaps remain in the current strategy to prevent marine species transfers into Arctic waters, the documents allege. The Cordova Times 


SAR Korea's Coast Guard to Send Helicopter to Arctic Region. Korea's Coast Guard announced Friday its plan to send one of its helicopters to operate in the Arctic region to support maritime exploration and assist in search and rescue operations. It said the helicopter will be deployed on the Araon, a 7,487-ton icebreaker run by the state-run Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST). The first trip likely to be made in July 2013 will be for about three months to check feasibility of longer deployments that could range from six to seven months. Up to six personnel including the pilot and co-pilot as well as maintenance and emergency rescue personnel will be stationed on board the Araon, with the helicopter to be housed in a hangar facility. Korea Times


Faroes Seek Further Certification. MARESCO A/S entered the Faroe Islands' North East Arctic cold water prawn fishery into assessment for MSC certification yesterday. The decision follows the successful certification of the Faroe Islands' silver smelt, cod and haddock fisheries and the assessment will be carried out by independent certifier Det Norske Veritas.The fishery is currently represented by Maresco's three vessels: Havborg FD 1160, Sermilik II VN 668 and the Arctic Viking VN 123. In 2011, the total catch of the fishery was 4,500 MT. Fish News


icebergtowingReal Time Satellite Monitoring of Icebergs in Russian Arctic. During July to September 2012 specialists from ScanEx RDC, Russia, performed with Atomflot Federal State Unitary Enterprise and other partners, real-time satellite monitoring of icebergs in the Kara Sea, Laptev Sea and connecting Vilkitsky Strait. Within 45 days 130 VHR satellite images and radar images of sea areas and 60-plus images of the Vilkitsky Strait were received and processed. HydroInternational 


Shell Gets Nod for Work in Beaufort Sea. U.S. regulators said Royal Dutch Shell was granted permission to start preparatory work in the Beaufort Sea off the northern coast of Alaska. Shell, under the terms of a permit issued by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, will start groundwork for exploration of the Beaufort Sea. The BSEE said the activity includes the installation of certain safety features like a blowout preventer. "BSEE has set the bar high for exploration activities in the arctic and any approved operations must meet. UPI


BowheadShell's Beaufort Sea Operations Will Wait on Whale Hunt. Although federal regulators Thursday gave Shell Oil Co. the green light to begin initial drilling operations in the Beaufort Sea, that work will wait until native Alaskans finish their fall hunt of migrating bowhead whales. With the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement's decision, Shell soon will be able to begin the same kind of top-hole drilling and site preparation in the Beaufort that it launched this month in the neighboring Chukchi Sea. Shell officials have already conceded they will not try to drill into underground zones that could contain oil and natural gas, because an emergency spill containment system isn't ready and won't be on-site before ice moves in and closes exploration this year. Houston Chronicle 


Inuit Leaders Bring Message of Global Warming Concern to Maine. More than 4,000 miles away from Maine, native peoples are confronting modern pressures that they say are threatening their traditional way of life. Climate change, commercial shipping and offshore oil operations, they say, are changing the land and seascape in the Alaskan Arctic. A group of 11 Inuit leaders is at Bowdoin College in Brunswick this week to share their concerns, as guests of the school's Arctic Studies program. Among the group of Inupiat and Yupik leaders is Harry Brower Jr, who serves as vice chair of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission. Its mission is to protect the bowhead whale, as well as to support his people's traditional whaling activities and culture. "Being in Arctic we don't have daylight. Summer months are very short, and time of gathering resources is very limited, so we have to take that opportunity as it arises," Bower says. "And we look forward to conducting our gathering and hunting of resources and traditional foods that we need for the winter months." The Maine Public Broadcasting Network 


Arctic MapCircumpolar Project Will Research 'Best Practices' in Arctic Resource Development: New project will try to 'give people a choice of tools that will help.' Throughout the North, but especially in northern Canada, resource development has often proven to be devastating for Arctic peoples and communities. Take Yukon's gold rush, which saw 100,000 people to travel to the Klondike region between 1897 and 1899 to prospect for gold. That influx of people that caused devastating effects on the indigenous peoples, said Chris Soutcott of Lakehead University during a Sept. 19 presentation at the Nunavut Research Institute in Iqaluit. Soutcott spoke about a project called RESDA, short for "Resources and Sustainable Development of Resources in the Arctic." The project will try to provide communities with information so they can avoid the kinds of problems caused by the gold rush or by the whaling industry based on Hershel Island in the beginning of the 20th century. Nunatsiaq Online


thiniceWhen Will the Arctic be Ice-Free in the Summer? Maybe four years. Or 40. The melting in the Arctic has set a new record. On Sunday, according to the National Snow and Ice Center, sea ice covered just 24 percent of the surface of the Arctic Ocean, or 1.32 million square miles. That shattered the previous low set in 2007, when sea ice covered just 29 percent of the ocean. The ice appears to have reached its minimum this year and will now begin re-forming and expanding again as winter approaches. (The NSIC waited a few days to report its results in order to verify that the ocean was actually refreezing.) But as humans continue to warm the planet, and as the melting in the Arctic continues apace, many scientists have been speculating on how soon we could see ice-free summers in the Arctic Ocean. Predictions can vary wildly-some scientists say the summer ice could be gone within four years. Last week, ocean physicist Peter Wadhams told the Guardian that global warming was driving a "collapse" in the Arctic sea ice. "This collapse, I predicted would occur in 2015-16 at which time the summer Arctic (August to September) would become ice-free,"  he said. "The final collapse towards that state is now happening and will probably be complete by those dates." The Washington Post

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.J. Res 117, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013 (Rep. Rogers, considered in the Senate)

Future Events                      


Debate on Arctic Challenges Set for Brussels, October 4-5, 2012.The challenges facing the Arctic during a time of change and global warming uncertainty will be the subject of frank and lively debate between policymakers, Ambassadors from European Union and Arctic nations, polar scientists, and representatives industry and Arctic indigenous peoples groups, at the 2012 Arctic Futures Symposium, taking place in Brussels on October 4th and 5th. High-level speakers include Prince Albert II of Monaco, Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Belgian Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs Didier Reynders, and Charles Emmerson, Chatham House Senior Research Fellow on Energy, Environment and Resources, and author of The Future History of the Arctic.  Guest speakers will also include Sweden's Arctic Ambassador Gustav Lind, Greenland's Deputy Foreign Minister Inuuteq Holm Olsen, Robert Blaauw, Senior Advisor to Shell's Arctic programme, Bernard Funston, Chair of the Canadian Polar Commission, British Antarctic Survey glaciologist Prof. David Vaughan and Lars-Anders Baer, chair of the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region.


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.  


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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