Arctic Update Header
May 7, 2013



The Senate will consider a nomination and infrastructure legislation.  The House will consider comp time legislation. 


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.


Emerging Research Questions in the Arctic, May 7-8, 2013, Anchorage.
The US's National Research Council's Polar Research Board will hold a public meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, May 7-8 to discuss "Emerging Research Questions in the Arctic." The agenda for the meeting is here.


Chinaflag Pentagon: China Views Information Warfare as Key to Countering US Pacific Forces. China views cyber warfare as the essential element to attack U.S. forces operating in the western Pacific, the Defense Department reported today in its annual analysis of that country's military capabilities. The Pentagon, in its report "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China," said the People's Liberation Army views space operations as "the commanding point for the information battlefield." The report said PLA documents emphasized the necessity of "destroying, damaging and interfering" with an enemy's reconnaissance and communications satellite systems. NextGov 


NASA NASA Developing Tablet-Based App for Alaska Pilots. It takes a bit of nerve to fly in Alaska, where pilots deal with the continent's tallest peaks, coldest weather and many sheer unknowns. Take, for example, the radio silence. Small planes lose contact minutes after leaving cities or villages, and pilots usually don't have accurate maps when they take off because Alaska is the only state that hasn't digitally collected elevation data. Anchorage Daily News


Decline of Super-Cute Arctic Fox May Be Linked to Increased Mercury Levels. Dangerous levels of mercury in Arctic ecosystems could be having a harmful effect on Arctic fox populations, according to research published in PLOS One on 6 May. Mercury exposure could have contributed to a catastrophic drop in Arctic fox populations on one Russian island, say the researchers. The findings suggest that increasing levels of mercury in marine ecosystems could have a significant impact on land animals with a marine-based diet. Wired


arcticcouncil China Seeks Observer Status with Arctic Council. For almost two decades, the Arctic Council has been a select club of northern nations that works with a handful of indigenous groups and European observer states to deal with issues north of the 66th parallel. But at next week's meeting in Kiruna, Sweden, the Arctic Council will decide whether to grant observer status to China and a handful of other non-Arctic countries including India and South Korea. Barents Observer


Science Scientists Warn Carbon Dioxide Emissions Speeding Up Arctic Ocean Acidification. A new set of findings from a Norwegian research group says that the Arctic Ocean is growing increasingly acidic, in large part due to increasing levels of carbon dioxide resulting from climate change. In a set of key findings, the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) noted that the increase in acidity is not universal across Arctic waters, but changes in pH levels have been observed from the waters off the Scandinavian countries to Russia and Alaska's Bering Strait.  Those pH levels have dropped by about .02 per decade in the Barents Sea off of Russia and in the waters near Iceland. Alaska Dispatch


White House 'High Level' White House Meeting on Melting Arctic a Fiction? A flurry of reports emerged in the international press this past week about "an extraordinary meeting of the brightest minds" to be held at the White House, where the U.S. officials would be warned about an "imminent Arctic ice death spiral." The hubbub started in response to a recent analysis by West Australian scientist Carlos Duarte, who warned that software models used to predict climate change and melting in the Arctic couldn't keep up with how fast the melt was actually occurring. Duarte suggested the Arctic could be ice-free much earlier than prior forecasts. Look no further than 2015 -- a mere two years away -- for ice-free northern seas, he warned. Alaska Dispatch


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.

Future Events


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.


10th International Symposium on Cold Regions Development (ISCORD 2013) (June 2-5, 2013) (Anchorage, Alaska) The International Association for Cold Regions Development Studies (IACORDS) and the Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) will host a conference on "Planning for Sustainable Cold Regions." Special Keynote Sessions each day include "Bridging the Gap Between Climate Change Science and Engineering Practice"; "The Challenges of the Debris from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake in Japan"; and "Energy in Alaska - Current and Future Projects."


AGU Science Policy Conference, June 24-26, 2013. (Washington, DC)   AGU logo

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 (see 6/25 forum titled "US Government Investment in Arctic Change Research"). The event is hosted by American Geophysical Union (AGU), a Washington, D. C.-based international nonprofit scientific association.


5th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and icedimArctic Maritime Operations, July 16-18, 2013 (Washington, D.C.). The U.S. National/Naval Ice Center (NIC) and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) co-host this follow-on symposium to address the changing state of Arctic sea ice and associated environmental conditions vis-a-vis emerging or expected naval, maritime, and associated activities and operations in the region. Invited speakers include nationally and internationally recognized experts on Arctic observations, climate change, and maritime operations.


7th International Workshop on Ice Drilling Technology (September 9-13, 2013) (Madison, WI). The event is sponsored by the Ice Drilling Program Office- Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDPO-