Arctic Update Header
 January 17, 2013

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are not in session today.



Ken Salazar Leaving a Legacy of Change. Major changes in the Interior Department's oversight of oil and gas drilling will be among the lasting outcomes of Ken Salazar's tenure. Interior Secretary Salazar ended months of speculation about his future Wednesday when he confirmed that he will step down by the end of March. Politico


Alaska FlagThough Still High, Alaska's Homicide, Suicide Rates Drop a Bit. A new study conducted by the Alaska Division of Public Health shows a decline in violent deaths in Alaska during the past five years, an indication that some of Alaska's most persistent and serious problems could be improving. The data comes from the Alaska Violent Death Reporting System (AKVDRS), a federally funded program established in 2004. Alaska is one of 18 states receiving federal funding for the program, which has collected data for two five-year periods, 2004-2008 and 2007-2011. Alaska Dispatch


State Questions Religious Protection for Fishermen. State prosecutors are disputing religious protection claims by Alaska Native fishermen cited for illegal fishing who say bans on their subsistence lifestyle violate their spiritual freedoms. The fishermen "raised an issue without adequately briefing it," the state said in a court filing this week. Prosecutors were responding to a motion seeking to consolidate the April trials of 21 fishermen to allow two specialists to testify as pro bono experts on Yup'ik Eskimo culture and spiritual matters. Anchorage Daily News


Final Native Boarding School Healing Event in Canada, US Effort Planned. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is in Whitehorse this week to hear from people about their experience in residential schools. The meeting began Monday with the lighting of a sacred fire which will burn throughout the two-day event. Former residential school students, elders and dignitaries packed the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre for opening remarks. Justice Murray Sinclair, head of the commission, said the children and grandchildren of former students have also suffered the effects of residential schools. Alaska Dispatch


How Many Eskimo Words for 'Snow?' Maybe More Than You Think. Anthropologist Franz Boas didn't mean to spark a century-long argument. Traveling through the icy wastes of Baffin Island in northern Canada during the 1880s, Boas simply wanted to study the life of the local Inuit people, joining their sleigh rides, trading caribou skins and learning their folklore. As he wrote proudly to his fiancee, "I am now truly like an Eskimo. . . . I scarcely eat any European foodstuffs any longer but am living entirely on seal meat." He was particularly intrigued by their language, noting the elaborate terms used to describe the frozen landscape: "aqilokoq" for "softly falling snow" and "piegnartoq" for "the snow (that is) good for driving sled," to name just two. Anchorage Daily News


State and Native Health Consortium Continue Work to Assess Health Needs in Alaska. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium have launched their second survey in an effort to assess Alaskans' wants, needs and vision for the future of health and health care in Alaska. The initial survey ran between Sept. 17 and Oct. 22, 2012. More than 1,500 Alaskans responded to the survey, listing such health priorities as alcohol use and abuse; the cost of health care; and diet, exercise and obesity as their principal health concerns. Anchorage Daily News


The EU as a Shipping Actor in the Arctic - Characteristics, Interests and Perspectives. The European Union (EU) depends heavily on maritime trade as 90% of its foreign trade and 40% of its internal trade are seaborne. In particular, the growing trade patterns between Asia and Europe are of major future importance. Although the European shipping sector was considerably affected by the on-going economic crisis, the EU remains a strong global shipping actor with specific direct and indirect economic powers. These strengths comprise relevant port capacities, space logistics, research and development capabilities as well as the EU's global dominant role as trading partner. Consequently, Arctic shipping and the potential opening of Arctic shipping routes may have a decisive impact on EU shipping considerations. Yet a sound economic forecast remains rather vague and scientifically insufficient as too many different variables still influence and limit Arctic development in the field of navigation and transportation. The few existing and uncertain calculations offer only very small margins on both possible benefits and costs. This makes respective calculations even more vulnerable to uncertainty as any small change may alter the overall benefit assessment. Arctic Institute


Begich Calls for Arctic Support in Federal Budget. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is appealing to President Obama to invest more in the Arctic. In a letter Wednesday, the Alaska Democrat says that as warming opens the Arctic, the nation must balance protection of the environment with economic needs of the nation. Begich says the Coast Guard needs a credible operating base in the Arctic to support marine and aviation operations, plus aircraft and cutters that can operate in the north. He says the nation lacks basic environmental knowledge needed to make policy decisions and he called for more northern research. KTUU


russian flagRussia to Define Its Arctic Policy. Russian Ministry on Regional Development submits a legislative proposal to establish institutional conditions for Arctic development. The document will be integrated into the Russia's state programme on 'Regional Policy and Federative Relations' which is to be implemented in 2013-2020.The proposed sub-programme brings together several ministries and federal agencies to establish 'institutional conditions for complex economic and social development of the Russia's Arctic zone', as official parlance puts it. The draft document outlines various activities that are expected to introduce a cluster-based policy in the Russia's Arctic, reports the Ministry. 


Canada's Arctic Minister Visits Iceland. Canadian Minister of Arctic Affairs Leona Aglukkaq met with Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéšinsson to discuss cooperation between the two countries when she visited Reykjavķk yesterday. Aglukkaq, who is also Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, is on a tour of the Nordic countries to introduce Canada's Chairmanship Programme for the Arctic Council, which it will take on at the Council's ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden on May 15.The Ministers discussed the importance of strengthening practical cooperation of the Arctic States on responses to environmental disasters such as oil spills, as well as economic cooperation and the possible establishment of Circumpolar Chamber of Commerce, as stated in a press release from the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Iceland Review


losLaw of the Sea Remains Critical for Alaska, Nation. [Op-Ed by Senator Mark Begich] Failure of the U.S. Senate to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty this past year denied an opportunity to promote strong, growing economies and jobs here in Alaska and across the nation. But the fight to reassert U.S. leadership in global maritime policy is not over yet. While this treaty has important benefits for the entire nation, nowhere is the need to ratify the Law of the Sea more apparent than here in Alaska. The warming Arctic is bringing challenges across our expansive coast, undercutting coastal villages and buckling permafrost roads and runways. But the diminishing Arctic icepack - which shrank to a record low size last summer - also means increased economic activity. The centuries old dream of the Northwest Passage is fast becoming a reality, cutting shipping distances between Europe and Asia by 40 percent. Traffic along Russia's Northern Sea route is increasing every year. Someday the Bering Straits may have the same strategic importance as the Straits of Gibraltar. Homer Tribune

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.


Future Events                      


Arctic Frontiers, January 20-25, 2013. (Tromso, Norway). Arctic Frontiers is organized 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.


Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) Workshop Collaborative Research Approaches: case studies and lessons learned. Anchorage, Hotel Captain Cook, Club Room 1, 10 am to noon, Jan. 25th

The value of collaboration among research organizations is broadly recognized, and there are numerous examples of collaboration occurring at different scales.  Nevertheless, research entities differ in their missions, funding structures, timelines, and processes.  While differences are necessary and frequently beneficial, they sometimes function as barriers to partnerships that might otherwise advance science and inform decisions.  This workshop will feature panelists (see below) representing an array of partnerships in the region who will describe the workings of their collaboration as well as underlying factors, their successes, and challenges that they face.  The audience will then be asked to join the panelists in an exploration of commonalities among the case studies.



Brendan P. Kelly, Office of Sci. & Tech. Policy, Exec. Office of the President (phone)
Jim Kendall, AK Regional Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)
Mike Macrander, Science Team Leader, Shell Alaska
John Payne, North Slope Science Initiative (NSSI)
Taqulik Hepa, Director, North Slope Borough (NSB) (to be confirmed)
Francis Weise, Science Director, North Pacific Research Board (NPRB)  


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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