Arctic Daily Update: April 11, 2013
The Senate votes to proceed to a bill that would require background checks on all firearm sales. The House takes up a resolution that would provide for consideration of legislation regarding the National Labor Relations Board.
With Risch's Hold Lifted, Senate Easily Confirms Jewell for Secretary. The Senate last night on an 87-11 vote confirmed Sally Jewell as the 51st secretary of the Interior, a position that will require tough choices on how to conserve and develop the nation's natural resources. Jewell, 58, will take over for outgoing Secretary Ken Salazar, who will return to his native Colorado in the coming weeks. Since Jewell has yet to be sworn in, Salazar today will still testify before House appropriators on President Obama's 2014 budget. E&E News
[Alaska] As Session Wanes, Interior Legislators Push Bills. With just a few days left in the legislative session, a handful of Interior-backed bills on topics such as Vietnam Veterans Day, teacher tenure, bridge namings and wastewater regulations have cleared floor votes. In the past few days, bill relating to registration of experimental vehicles and University of Alaska Museum of the North have joined that list. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Agency Plans Workshops on Harbor Seal Protections. The National Marine Fisheries Service is planning workshops in Juneau and Yakutat on April 22 and 23 to take comment on whether cruise ships or other vessels in glacial fjords disturb harbor seals.Harbor seals are an important subsistence game animal for Yakutat, a community of 622 located 225 miles northwest of Juneau at the top of the Alaska Panhandle. Anchorage Daily News
Conservative Government's Costly Arctic Patrol Ships Can't Handle Northern Waters, Report Says. The Harper's government proposed fleet of Arctic patrol vessels are a costly folly that will produce hybrid ships that will be no good for use in the Arctic or offshore, a new report says. A new report Thursday aims a torpedo squarely at Ottawa's Arctic patrol vessels, saying the plan will rob the Royal Canadian Navy of badly needed funding that could be better spent on "proven" designs. Toronto Star
Industry Arctic Data Now Publicly Available Through AOOS Research Workspace. Signed in August of 2011, a data-sharing agreement between NOAA and three oil companies (Shell, ConocoPhillips, and StatOil) laid the groundwork for AOOS to provide public access to a wealth of oceanographic and environmental data collected between 2008 and 2011 in the Chukchi Sea.The agreement calls for sharing three major data sets in the lease sale areas including: real-time weather and ocean observations, environmental information and sea ice and sea floor mapping data. During the open water season, real-time data are available through the AOOS Sensor Map. Historic weather, oceanographic and environmental studies data is freely available through the AOOS Research Workspace. Alaska Ocean Observing System
Conceptual Arctic Observing System Build-Out. AOOS is developing a conceptual build-out plan for an Arctic Ocean Observing System for the U.S./Alaska Arctic. The goal of this plan is to prioritize core monitoring platforms and activities to meet stakeholder needs for safe marine operations, improved storm and other hazard response, and integrated data products for ecosystem assessments and climate trends. A draft plan is available here.
Two New National Research Council Committees Address Alaska Arctic Issues. Two recently initiated NRC studies will tackle Alaska issues in the coming year. Sponsored by the Polar Research Board, the Emerging Research Questions in the Arctic study will provide guidance on future research questions in the Arctic over the next 10-20 years, infrastructure needs and collaboration opportunities. The committee's first meeting is scheduled for Anchorage May 7-8. Alaskans on that committee include Henry Huntington, Pew Charitable Trusts (co-chair), Sven Haakanson, Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak, Tom Weingartner and Larry Hinzman, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Michael Macrander, Shell. National Academies of Science
Science: Basic Research, Space Exploration Shielded from Cuts. The Obama administration's fiscal 2014 budget attempts to preserve funding for basic scientific research and space exploration, at the expense of weapons development and other research and development priorities. The budget request for research and development totaled $142.8 billion, a 1.3 percent increase over fiscal 2012 enacted levels but a small decline when inflation is taken into account. Congressional Quarterly
Joint Task Force-Alaska, University of Alaska Combine Arctic Expertise. Joint Task Force-Alaska (JTF-AK) Commander, Lt. Gen. Stephen Hoog, and University of Alaska President Patrick Gamble have signed a memorandum of understanding in an effort to develop a robust information sharing relationship between Arctic experts on their staffs. The memorandum is designed to facilitate rapid information exchange, leveraging the unparalleled expertise at UA to support operations, planning and ensuring JTF-AK decision making is expertly informed by the university's holistic understanding of the Arctic. Anchorage Daily News
No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.
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.
** New ** NPC Luncheon with Olafur Grimsson, President of Iceland, April 15, 2013 (Washington, D.C.) Iceland's President Olafur Grimsson will address the global race for resources in the Arctic on April 15 at a National Press Club Newsmakers Luncheon. Grimsson, who is serving a record fifth term as the island nation's president, has organized a group to promote collaboration among Arctic nations. Arctic Circle will convene for the first time in Reykjavik in October to discuss the impact of sea ice melt, concerns about security, managing the fisheries, shipping and mapping Arctic resources. Grimsson, whose long career in politics that began after he became the first person from Iceland to earn a Ph.D. in political science, served for decades in Iceland's legislature as a member of the People's Alliance Party. From 1988 to 1991, he served as Iceland's finance minister.
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."
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.
** New** 5th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and 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.
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.