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March 15, 2013

Today's Eventstodaysevents  


The House expects to complete consideration of a bill that would overhaul the workforce investment system. The Senate is not in session. 

InteriorFederal Report Says Shell Unprepared for Troubled Arctic Drilling Operations. Shell was not fully prepared when it launched its trouble-plagued Arctic offshore drilling program last year, and the oil company also fell short in overseeing key contractors in the effort, according to a federal report released Thursday. The report follows a 60-day review by the Interior Department that focused on problems Royal Dutch Shell PLC experienced with its drilling vessels and a spill containment vessel. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the company will have to submit more comprehensive plans before it would be allowed to operate in the Arctic again. Washington Post  


Link to the Department of Interior Report here. 


Russia Lifts Suspension of Arctic Indigenous Org. The operations of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North have been restored. Russia's Ministry of Justice had given RAIPON an order Nov. 1 to suspend its operations until April, 2013. The ministry said the organization, which represents 41 indigenous groups and more than 250,000 indigenous people across the Russian Arctic, did not comply with Russian federal law because "not all regional offices of the association are legal entities." The ministry concluded that RAIPON's "activities are illegal." Nunatsiaq Online


Chemical Pollutants Threaten Health in the Arctic. People living in Arctic areas can be more sensitive to pollutants due to their genetics, says researcher Arja Rautio at the Centre for Arctic Medicine in the University of Oulu, Finland. This is unfortunate since the northernmost areas of Europe are receiving more harmful chemicals. Scientists believe climate change may be a culprit as air and water mass movements push some of these undesirable chemicals towards the Arctic. "In real life, people are exposed to lots of chemicals," says Rautio, who leads studies into the human health effects from contaminants and the influence of climate change in a EU-funded project called ArcRisk, "and I think the people of the north are exposed to higher levels than for example the general population in Europe." Phys.Org


Alaska Sea Grant to Convene Four-Day Climate Change Symposium. Sea Ice covering the Arctic Ocean melted away to a record low in 2012, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The steady loss of arctic sea ice is perhaps the most obvious sign of a warming planet. Far less obvious is how individual marine species-from arctic cod that live just below and sometimes within the sea ice, to seals, whales, polar bears and ultimately humans-will respond to the loss of sea ice and other consequences of a warmer Arctic. Anchorage Daily News 


Coca cola polar bear This Polar Bear Hunting Quota Brought to You by Coca-Cola. Depending on whom you listen to, the polar bear population in Canada's Far North is either in serious decline or surprisingly robust. Last spring when the government of Nunavut released the results of a polar bear count on the western shores of Hudson Bay, it claimed the number of bears was nearly 70 per cent higher than first thought. Biologists and environmentalists insisted the government figures were simply wrong. The government of Nunavut hopes to put the debate to rest with results from the largest-ever polar bear survey, a three-year, $2.5-million project, the results of which will start to be made available within the next month or so. Nunavut, along with the Northwest Territories, had an unlikely partner on the project: Coca-Cola Canada. Working with the World Wildlife Fund, Coca-Cola matched Canadians' donations for conservation efforts; a portion of the money, roughly $200,000, went to Nunavut and the Northwest Territories to fund the 2012 survey. Macleans


Polar Bears' Mysterious Origins Stymie Scientists. Polar bears and brown bears diverged much longer ago than previously thought, new research suggests. Past estimates for this divergence came from brown bears living on the Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof (ABC) Islands in Alaska. But according to a new study, ABC Island bears are actually the result of mating between brown bears and polar bears in the last several thousand years, making the population useless for determining polar bear roots. NBC News


Salmon Begich Announces Two Bills to Strengthen Nation's Seafood Industry. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich introduced on Wednesday two bills to strengthen the nation's seafood industry by addressing workforce needs within the industry and cracking down on the problem of mislabeled and fraudulent seafood on the market. Begich, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, and the Coast Guard, announced the bills the same day he stopped by the International Boston Seafood Show where he visited with Alaskans displaying their famous seafood products at the world renowned show. Alaska Native News

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.

Future Events                      

The National Research Council's Ocean Studies Board will convene a meeting of the committee that's studying this subject at the Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks, to hear from Alaska-bsed experts in this subject. Topics to be discussed include physical oceanographic and terrestrial conditions, biological productivity, oil spill response (USCG, BSEE, AK DEC), and local community perspectives. The link above provides info on meeting logistics and agenda. Remote link-in to the meeting can be arranged. Contact Heather Chiarello,

Lecture: Melting Ice: What is happening to Arctic sea ice and what does it mean for us? March 20, 2013, Washington DC.
The National Research Council is sponsoring the 14th annual Roger Revelle Commemorative Lecture, to be given by Dr. John Walsh of the Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks. The lecture, which starts at 5:30 pm in the Baird Auditorium, in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (10th Street and Constitution entrance) is free, and open to the public, but pre-registration for planning purposes, would be appreciate. Please contact Pamela Lewis ( with questions.


Congressional Briefing, March 20, 2013 (Washington, D.C.)

The American Geophysical Union (AGU), in partnership with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and the National Academies' Ocean Studies Board, will present a lunch briefing on Melting Sea Ice in the Arctic: Science to Understand the Impacts to Our National Security, Natural Resources, and Economy. Speakers for the event include Dr. Cecilia Bitz, associate professor of atmospheric sciences and affiliate physicist for the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington; Lt. Commander Kenneth J. Boda, Arctic strategic analys and prospective executive officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter POLAR STAR; Dr. Brendan P. Kelly, assistant director for polar sciences at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President; and Dr. John E. Walsh, chief scientist of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.


 The 100th meeting of the US Arctic Research Commission will be held in Bethel. Additional information (agenda) is available at 


28th 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.


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.


Private Sector Transportation, Infrastructure, Assets, Response, Capacity, and Development in the Arctic, May 30, 2012, Seattle, WA. A recently-held Arctic transportation workshop in Iceland highlighted the need to better understand private sector transportation infrastructure and assets, recognizing industry's role in the responsible development of resources, response and supportive infrastructure. As a follow-up to its efforts to inventory and map Arctic transportation infrastructure, the Institute of the North is hosting a workshop at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, Washington that focuses on three critical areas: private sector assets and infrastructure in the Arctic, staging areas outside the Arctic that support Northern development, and vessels and technology that are difficult to map but need to be measured for future decision-making. Participants include industry representatives, technical experts, researchers, Coast Guard and other response personnel.


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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