Arctic Update Header
 January 11, 2013

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are not in session today.



* Please note, access to the Anchorage Daily News may now require a subscription.


 Dust on the Sun's Mirror. Imagine yourself on a Colorado mountain slope. Bumblebees buzz happily around dwarf bluebell blossoms, and the spring sun is bright. Except not all is well. The flowers bloom a good seven hundred feet upslope of where they grew five years ago, forcing bees ever higher. Bright petal colors are faded: the flowers are past their prime, plants already flagging. And broad-tailed hummingbirds are only now arriving from their northward migrations. Their customary feast of subalpine glacier lillies normally just opening as the birds arrive- began their bloom seventeen days ago, and many are already withered. Frontier Scientists via The Anchorage Daily News


West Virginia Democrat Sen. Jay Rockefeller Won't Run in 2014. Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller will not run for reelection in 2014, passing up a bid for a sixth term and putting in play a Senate seat in deep red West Virginia. In an interview with POLITICO, Rockefeller - the chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and one of the most senior Senate Democrats - said he had been wrestling with the question of whether to run again since October but had not made up his mind to retire until very recently. Politico


Rockefeller Winning Streak in Jeopardy. Sen. Jay Rockefeller's close ties to President Barack Obama could end his Senate career - should the West Virginia Democrat choose to run for re-election in 2014. Rockefeller hasn't had a close race in 30 years. But his strong support for Obama's agenda in a state where the president remains deeply unpopular, combined with Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's decision to run for Senate, could prove enough to undermine the political career of a Democratic icon who has endured even as West Virginia has grown more and more conservative. Congressional Quarterly


Shell in ChukchiArctic Drilling Poses New Challenges for Obama. Environmentalists are stepping up pressure on the Interior Department to halt oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean, despite an expedited review of the efforts announced by federal regulators this week. Major environmental groups said the accidental grounding of a Shell drilling rig off Alaska's coast last week - the latest in a series of mishaps the company has experienced in trying to drill in Arctic waters - warrants a suspension of all oil and gas activities in the region "for the foreseeable future." Congressional Quarterly


los [ readers have seen, USARC occasionally includes opinion pieces from across the political spectrum. Importantly, we that the USARC has always been in support of US accession to the Law of the Sea Treaty, as documented in prior publications and congressional testimony. The following, is an opposing view, which we provide for argument's sake.]


Don't Open the Door to Law of the Sea Litigation. [Opinion] Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute warns of the dangers of litigation if the United States joins the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, more commonly known as the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). Some of the litigation "greatest hits" highlighted by Bandow include: The recent intrusion of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea-an international court established by LOST-into a commercial dispute being litigated in Ghana. In that case, the tribunal disregarded the well-reasoned opinion of a Ghanaian judge and ordered Ghana to release an Argentine naval vessel that was being held to satisfy a debt caused by Argentina's massive $80 billion bond default. Heritage Foundation 


National Acidification Research Plan Needs Fine-Tuning-Experts. The nation's ocean acidification research plan is coming together but still lacks a few key pieces, according to an expert panel. The National Research Council said the federal plan to better understand the implications of rapid acidification of the world's oceans needs a clear mission statement, criteria to prioritize research projects and metrics to evaluate progress. E &E News


Ice-Ensnared Killer Whales Free Themselves in Hudson Bay. Orcas that had been trapped by ice in northern Quebec since earlier this week apparently freed themselves this morning. Hunters Jobie Epoo and Jamisee Weetaluktuk went to check the ice before 8 a.m. EST this morning and discovered the whales were gone. E& E News 


Federal Water Managers Need Better Monitoring, Forecasting-Report. As climate change promises to alter precipitation patterns and bring more weather extremes, the federal agencies responsible for managing much of the country's water resources -- from dams to ports to irrigations systems -- are calling for better monitoring, forecasting and communication. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation released a report that surveyed operators on short-term water management decisions and their needs in the face of a changing climate. E & E News


Concentrations in Top Layer of World's Oceans Have Doubled-UN Report. Mercury pollution has doubled in the top layer of the world's oceans over the past century, the United Nations' environment agency said today, calling it part of a man-made problem that will require international cooperation to remedy. Over the past 100 years, mercury in the top 100 meters of the world's oceans has doubled and concentrations in deeper waters are up 25 percent, the U.N. agency said. E & E News


EPAEPA Cites Shell for Air-Quality Permit Violations on Kulluk, Noble Discoverer. While Royal Dutch Shell's recovery effort on the once-beached Kulluk drilling rig proceeds quietly, the Environmental Protection Agency is sounding off. Late Thursday, the EPA delivered two notices of violation to Shell for Clean Air Act permits that the company had received for Kulluk and its counterpart, the drillship Noble Discoverer. A statement from the agency said based on the EPA's inspection of the Discoverer and Shell's self-reports of excess nitrogen oxides, the EPA determined that Shell had multiple permit violations for each ship during the 2012 drilling season. Alaska Dispatch


Begich: Arctic Drilling is Happening. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich says there's no question in his mind that drilling in the Arctic will continue to move forward. During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Begich was asked about the floating drill rig that recently ran aground in Alaska. The vessel Kulluk drilled last year in the Beaufort Sea and was bound for Seattle for upgrades and maintenance when it ran into trouble. Begich said critics might use the incident in their arguments against drilling in the Arctic. But he cast this as a transportation and shipping issue - not a drilling issue. He said there are still questions to be answered, but he sees this as a learning experience and said he considers the debate over drilling in the Arctic over. Anchorage Daily News


Polar bear

Attacking Polar Bear Gives Arctic Wildlife Documentary Filmmaker Scare of a Lifetime. [gotta see video]
If you've ever wondered what if feels like to come face to face with a polar bear, check out this 
video by Scottish wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan. He was shooting a documentary about a family of polar bears in Norway's Svalbard Arctic archipelago when he attracted the attention of a female bear. Luckily for him, Buchanan was inside a protective pod, an "ice cube" made of reinforced steel and Plexiglas. For forty minutes the bear clawed and chomped at the glass, rattled the cage, systematically looking for weak points as she tried to get to Buchanan, who amazingly kept his composure while providing play-by-play commentary of the assault. Alaska Dispatch


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.


Future Events                      


Arctic Frontiers, January 20-25, 2013. (Tromso, Norway). Arctic Frontiers is organised as an independent network and a leading meeting place for pan-arctic issues. The network was established in 2006 and later extended. Arctic Frontiers will host the conference to consider three main scientific topics. Geopolitics in a Changing Arctic; Marine Harvesting in the Arctic; and Arctic Marine Productivity. 


Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 21-25, 2013, Anchorage. Since 2002, scientists from Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond have come to the Symposium to communicate research activities in the marine regions off Alaska. Researchers and students in marine science re-connect with old colleagues and meet new ones. Plenary and poster sessions feature a broad spectrum of ocean science. Hear the latest in the fields of climate, oceanography, lower trophic levels, the benthos, fishes and invertebrates, seabirds, marine mammals, local and traditional knowledge, and socioeconomic research. The Symposium also features compelling keynote speakers, workshops and special sessions.


Development of a 5-Year Strategic Plan for Oil Spill Research in Canadian Arctic Waters, January 28-29, 2013, Calgary. This workshop is sponsored by the Environmental Studies Research Fund (ESRF), a research program which sponsors environmental and social studies pertaining petroleum exploration, development, and production activities on frontier lands. The ESRF is directed by a joint government, industry and public management board and is administered by the secretariat, which resides in the Office of Energy Research and Development, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. The workshop is held in an effort to produce a 5-year strategic plan for oil spill research in Canadian Arctic marine waters.


Alaska Forum on the Environment, February 4-8, 2013, Anchorage. Hosted by The Alaska Forum, Inc. the 2013 Alaska Forum on the Environment will follow up on previous forums by offering training and information, includes plenary sessions, on: climate change, emergency response, environmental regulations, fish and wildlife populations, rural issues, energy, military issues, business issues, solid waste, contaminants, contaminated site cleanup, mining and others.  For 2013, the forum will expand forum content to provide information to help better understand issues surrounding coastal communities. This will include tsunami impacts, marine debris, and coastal erosion.


The Economist's "Arctic Summit: A New Vista for Trade Energy and the Environment," March 12, 2013. (Oslo, Norway) The event is hosted by The Economist. The Arctic Summit will discuss big issues concerning the region: chase for natural resources, impact of climate change, emergence of new trading routes and the need for responsible governance. The summit has been designed to focus attention and to promote constructive thinking prior to the next Arctic Council Ministers' meeting in 2013. A high-level group of 150 policy-makers, CEOs and influential commentators will spend a day tackling the issues at the heart of the Arctic's future, in discussions led by James Astill, environment editor of The Economist and author of the special report on the Arctic.


Wakefield28th Wakefield Symposium: Responses of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change, March 26-29, 2013, Anchorage. 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. 


Arctic Science Summit Week, April 13-19, 2013. Krakow, Poland. The ASSW is the annual gathering of international organizations engaged in supporting and facilitating Arctic research. Its purpose is to provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration and cooperation in all fields of Arctic science and to combine science and management meetings. Side meetings organized by groups with interest in the Arctic science and policy will also be held within the week.
One of them is already planned: The Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) will offer a one-day career development workshop during the ASSW 2013. Details will be published closer to the event:


American Polar Society 75th Anniversary, April 15-18, 2013, Woods Hole, MA. The American Polar Society will hold a meeting and symposium at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This meeting and symposium is titled "The Polar Regions in the 21st Century: Globalization, Climate Change and Geopolitics."


Arctic Observing Summit 2013, April 30- May 2, 2013, Vancouver, BC, CA. The Arctic Observing Summit is led by the International Study of Arctic Change (ISAC). It is a Sustaining Arctic Observing Network (SAON) task and part of the broader SAON implementation process, which is led by the Arctic Council jointly with the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). AOS is a high-level, biennial summit that aims to provide community-driven, science-based guidance for the design, implementation, coordination and sustained long term (decades) operation of an international network of arctic observing systems. The AOS will provide a platform to address urgent and broadly recognized needs of arctic observing across all components of the arctic system, including the human component. It will foster international communication and coordination of long-term observations aimed at improving understanding and responding to system-scale arctic change. The AOS will be an international forum for optimizing resource allocation through coordination and exchange among researchers, funding agencies, and others involved or interested in long term observing activities, while minimizing duplication and gaps.


International Conference on Arctic Ocean Acidification, May 6-8, 2013, Bergen, Norway. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, and the University of British Columbia, Canada, host a conference to consider Arctic Ocean acidification. Topics will include response of Arctic Ocean to increasing CO2 and related changes in the global carbon cycle, social and policy challenges, Arctic Ocean acidification and ecological and biogeochemical coupling, implications of changing Arctic Ocean acidification for northern (commercial and subsistence) fisheries, and future developments.


AGU Science Policy Conference, June 24-26, 2013. (Washington, DC) Hundreds of Earth and space scientists, students, policymakers, and industry professionals will discuss key Earth and space science topics that address challenges to our economy, national security, environment, and public safety. This meeting will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions related to energy, natural hazards, technology and infrastructure, climate, oceans, and the Arctic. The event is hosted by American Geophysical Union (AGU), a Washington, D. C.-based international nonprofit scientific association. 

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