Arctic Daily Update: April 8, 2013
After a long spring break, Congress will return from recess this week and may consider gun control and immigration. The President is expected to release the fiscal 2014 budget proposal on Wednesday.
Appropriations Work to Begin With Top-Line Spending Still in Question. Congressional appropriators in both chambers will start work on spending plans for fiscal 2014 in the coming week with no agreement on the basic top-line funding figure for the federal government. Lawmakers may not decide until this summer how much discretionary spending to allow in fiscal 2014, which begins Oct. 1. Current law dictates a sharp reduction to about $966 billion from about $984 billion in fiscal 2013 due to the sequester. Democrats will push to increase that cap to $1.058 trillion during the next major budget negotiation, expected to happen in the summer as part of a needed increase in the federal debt limit. Congressional Quarterly
Tough Budgeting Places National Weather Service in an Uneasy Orbit. Almost a year after Congress learned of a budget scandal at the National Weather Service, lawmakers are still trying to get a realistic estimate of what it costs to run the nation's first line of defense against the effects of hurricanes, tornadoes and winter storms. The National Weather Service has struggled in recent years to find money to operate a nationwide network of forecasting offices while also adding new technology intended to improve predictions. That's raised doubts about the reliability of a program that produces about 1.5 million forecasts and 50,000 warnings a year, aiding citizens who may be in the path of dangerous storms, farmers trying to protect crops and airlines planning their daily schedules. Roll Call
As Globe Warms, Is an Arctic Fisheries Boom on the Way? As scientists from around the state and country gathered to discuss Arctic shift last week, it became clear that more questions than conclusions are available about Arctic fish populations-and where the warm winds of change will take them. Sea ice is at a record low, ocean acidification is on the rise, an undulating Arctic weather system is pushing extreme weather around the globe, and marine life populations from algae blooms to polar bears are in major flux. Alaska Dispatch
Gazprom Neft, Shell to Team up on Shale Oil, Arctic. The deals underscore the Kremlin's drive to open up access to Russia's trove of hard-to-recover energy reserves to international energy firms with the expertise needed to secure its position as leading global oil and gas producer. Gazprom Neft and Royal Dutch Shell declined to comment. The Kremlin also confirmed on Thursday plans announced earlier by Gazprom and Dutch natural gas firm Gasunie to sign an agreement to expand the Russian export monopoly's supply network to western Europe. Reuters
Symposium Highlights Need for Cohesive Arctic Management. While a recent Alaska Sea Grant conference focused on changes in Alaska's Arctic marine life, many of its speakers highlighted a growing need for an Arctic management framework that can better cope with rapid development and climate changes. That included U.S. Arctic Research Commission Chair Fran Ulmer, who attended the full week of the Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposium: Responses of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change. The Bristol Bay Times
Sweden, Finland in Grip of Lingering Ice on the Baltic Sea: 5 Icebreakers Deployed. Never before has so much ice built up so late in the year on the Baltic Sea and in the Gulf of Bothnia between Sweden and Finland-and records have been kept for 50 years. "We have never seen anything like this," says icebreaking manager Ulf Gulldne, to a Swedish newspaper. A stubborn area of high pressure camped over Scandinavia has contributed to freezing temperatures late in the winter and to the new record. Alaska Dispatch
Caribou Bones Reveal New Arctic Habitats. In the dry and frigid Arctic, caribou antlers and skeletons survive on the landscape for thousands of years. For the first time, researchers are using these bones to track caribou behavior in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Both male and female caribou shed antlers, but only females shed them within a few days of giving birth. Researchers found a surprising number of antlers and newborn skeletons on river terraces in the Porcupine caribou herd's calving grounds was thought to be the most popular calving turf. Live Science
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.
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.
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.