Arctic Update Header
March 28, 2013


Both chambers have begun their spring recesses. The Senate returns on April 8. The House returns on April 9.  


28th Wakefield Symposium: Responses of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change, March 26-29, 2013, Anchorage. This symposium seeks to advance 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.


CBO Says Fiscal 2013 Spending Stays Within Caps. For a second year in a row, Congress appears to be holding federal spending within the limit it set. And, as a result, no further restriction on outlays is required in the months ahead. That is the verdict from the Congressional Budget Office in a report released Wednesday. CBO was asked to estimate how well fiscal 2013 appropriations, including the spending package for the remainder of the fiscal year that President Barack Obama signed into law this week, adhere to limits imposed on regular discretionary spending. The executive branch's Office of Management and Budget has the final say on the matter. Congressional Quarterly 


Coast Guard SealCoast Guard Wants Both Shell Drill Rigs to Face Pollution Investigation. The Coast Guard has asked the Justice Department to investigate possible pollution violations by both of the drilling rigs Shell used in its botched efforts to explore for oil last year in the Arctic Ocean waters off the northern coast of Alaska.Coast Guard Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo said Wednesday that he'd turned over to the Justice Department for review and possible prosecution an investigation into the troubled Shell drilling rig Kulluk. Ostebo said it was an "investigation into potential Marpol violations." Anchorage Daily News


Halibut Scientists Expand Research Area, Vessels. Halibut scientists plan to expand the yearly Pacific stock assessments by 30 percent next summer, adding 390 survey stations to the existing 1,300 already in use from Oregon to the Bering Sea. Since 1998 the halibut surveys, which occur from June through October, have been conducted in a depth range of 20 to 275 fathoms where most of the fishing was taking place. But that's been changing in recent years, said Claude Dykstra, Survey Manager for the International Pacific Halibut Commission. The Bristol Bay Times


BegichBegich Holds Hearing on Arctic Waters' Opportunities, Challenges. On Wednesday, several representatives from around the state and nation met to discuss what challenges lay ahead in the Arctic in light of increased traffic there, as well as the economic benefits. Sen. Mark Begich, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, held a field hearing on increased Arctic marine activity at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The hearing was also attended by representatives of the Interior Department, the Coast Guard and Shell Oil. The U.S. Committee on the Marine Transportation System says diminished sea ice in the Arctic is creating a growing potential for commercial shipping, but new standards and infrastructure are needed. NBC News


Begich: Shipping Riskier Than Drilling in Arctic. More than 250 vessels operated last year in the Arctic Ocean and made 480 transits through the Bering Strait, and the increasing traffic poses more of a threat than Arctic offshore drilling, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich said Wednesday. News reports focused on drilling problems experienced by Royal Dutch Shell PLC, including the grounding of one of its two Alaska drill ships, but the unregulated ship traffic is a bigger concern, said Begich, D-Alaska. "In the challenging Arctic maritime environment, where there are no harbors of refuge and few aids to navigation or search and rescue assets, mariners also have less accurate weather forecasts and charts where there are dozens of miles between accurate depth readings," Begich said at a hearing of panel he chairs, the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard." Anchorage Daily News


Arsenic Cleanup Costs Double at Yellowknife Mine Site. In the Northwest Territories, new documents show the cleanup costs for Yellowknife's arsenic-contaminated Giant Mine site will be close to a billion dollars. That's double what officials with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development have said it would cost to remediate the former gold mine. The cleanup plan is currently in the final stages of an environmental review. Alaska Dispatch


New Report Paints Dire Picture for Alaska Women. Alaska women earn less than men, were imprisoned at a higher rate during the last decade and are committing suicide at a rate twice the national average, according to a new study released Tuesday."There were some shocking results, some disappointing results," said state Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, who requested the study from the Legislative Research Services. The request was made after McGuire said she reviewed the 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey, for which 1,000 Alaska women were interviewed. Anchorage Daily News


caribouNew Bone Survey Method Could Aid Long-term Survival of Arctic Caribou. A study co-authored by a University of Florida scientist adds critical new data for understanding caribou calving grounds in an area under consideration for oil exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The research may be used to create improved conservation strategies for an ecologically important area that has been under evaluation for natural resource exploration since enactment of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980. Alaska Native News

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.

Future Events                      


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.


Arctic Cities, Global Processes, and Local Realities, December 2-4, 2013 (Reovaniemi, Finland) The conference is organized jointly by the City of Rovaniemi and the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland, Finland. The goal of the conference is to present the latest research scientific knowledge about the global processes as they become local realities. Even if the Conference is scientific in orientation, it aims to bridge science and knowledge into action by bringing top scholars to share their research results, and to organize joint discussion with the leaders of the Arctic Cities. Sessions include: Rovaniemi Process: past, present, future; Arctic responses to global environmental problems; people and extractive industries; tourism in the Arctic; the Arctic in global economy; climate change in the Arctic; indigenous peoples in cities; and, Arctic global flows. Cross cutting themes include: Arctic cities and global processes; management and governance in the Arctic; and, Arctic together with non-Arctic.

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