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Arctic Daily Update: June 26, 2014


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June 26, 2014  
In Memorial

Walter B. Parker

Former USARC Commissioner Walter (Walt) B. Parker, 87, often cited as one of the indomitable few who "created Alaska," passed away yesterday, at home, surrounded by family and friends. Born in Spokane, Washington on August 11, 1926, Parker moved to Alaska in 1946 following his service in the US Navy. Parker was instrumental in creating major federal legislation associated with Alaska statehood including the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, the Trans Alaska Pipeline Act of 1973, the National Fisheries Act of 1976 (Magnuson Act), the Alaska National Interest Lands and Conservation Act of 1980, and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Parker served on the US Arctic Research Commission (1995-2001) and continued to serve as an advisor until now. He chaired the Alaska Oil Spill Commission associated with the Exxon Valdez spill. In 1996, when the Arctic Council was formed, Parker was a delegate to the Senior Arctic Officials, and the Sustainable Development Working Group. As a reflection of how Walt embraced the Alaskan lifestyle, he ran beaver and marten traplines and had dog sled teams when he and his young family lived in the Lake Minchumina region. RIP. 


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Arctic in the Athropocene. June 23-July 2, 2014 (Potsdam, Germany). Under the overarching theme "Arctic in the Anthropocene", this two-week interdisciplinary and interactive event will be the first in a series of Potsdam Summer Schools to be held annually. The goal is to bring together early-career scientists and young professionals from research departments, governmental and non-governmental agencies and organizations, as well as the private sector from all around the world. Participants will deal with global challenges and address urgent questions on how to shape sustainable futures in the Arctic and beyond from a scientific and socioeconomic point of view. 


capital Today's Congressional Action:   

The House and Senate are in session and expected to consider non-Arctic legislation.




NOAA to Consider Taking Humpback Whales Off Endangered List. Alaska's humpback whales came a step closer to moving off the endangered species list this week when an arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a positive initial finding on the merits of the state's petition to delist a population of the marine mammals. On Wednesday, NOAA Fisheries announced a positive finding, which means the agency "has determined that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted," said a release on the finding. Anchorage Daily News


Hamburg and Northern Sea Route. The port city of Hamburg, Germany, actually lies 80 miles inland from the North Sea. Despite this distance, it has been an important maritime trading hub for centuries, thanks to the wide Elbe River, which flows out to the sea, and its many waterways. The glory days of the Hanseatic League are still reflected in the official name of Hamburg, which is a city-state: Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. German reunification after the dissolution of the Soviet Union resulted in the reestablishment of trade ties with central and Eastern Europe along the Elbe, positioning the port for success in the 21st century. Now, Hamburg is also well-positioned to take advantage of advances in Arctic shipping, especially along the Northern Sea Route. Alaska Dispatch


Ottawa Names Foreign Affairs Official to Top Arctic Council Job. A senior foreign affairs official, Vincent Rigby, will serve as Canada's top non-elected official for the country's Arctic Council chairmanship, Arctic Council minister Leona Aglukkaq said June 26 in a news release. Rigby will replace Patrick Borbey, who on July 2 will depart his job as president of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced June 20 that Borbey will move to the Department of Canadian Heritage, where he will serve as an associate deputy minister. Nunatsiaq Online


Deep-Sea Research Journal Publishes BOEM Chukchi Sea Research. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announces the availability of a special issue of the oceanography journal Deep-Sea Research II devoted to BOEM-funded research of the northeastern Chukchi Sea. Published in spring 2014, the 13 articles in this volume present results from major field expeditions in the northern Chukchi Sea during open-water periods in the summers of 2009 and 2010. The special issue focuses on the biological and chemical characteristics of the benthos, or sea floor community, with the goal of establishing a strong benchmark for assessing future changes that may occur in response to (1) impacts from oil and gas activities, and (2) variations in hydrography, circulation or ice retreat associated with climate change. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management


Ottawa Oks Arctic Offshore Seismic Tests Over Local Objections. Ottawa has approved energy exploration in offshore Arctic waters over the objections of Inuit communities and organizations. In a letter to the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt says he sees no reason to deny proposed seismic tests off the coast of Baffin Island later this summer. "I see neither the need nor the benefit to put seismic exploration on hold," he wrote in the June 10 letter. Edmonton Journal


beluga Beluga Baby Talk Lures Scientist to North. As debate swirls around keeping whales in captivity, the Vancouver Aquarium is taking its beluga research back to the wild with a study to begin next week in the Arctic. Behavioral ecologist Valeria Vergara is going to Cunningham Inlet, on Summerset Island about 800 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, to listen in on the notoriously chatty cetaceans as they teach their calves to communicate. The Province


Arctic Birds Breeding Earlier. Migratory birds that breed in the Arctic are starting to nest earlier in spring because the snow melt is occurring earlier in the season. This is confirmed by a new collaborative study,"Phenological advancement in arctic bird species: relative importance of snow melt and ecological factors" published in the current online edition of the journal Polar Biology. The scientists, including Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) biologists, looked at the nests of four shorebird species and one songbird in Alaska, recording when the first eggs were laid in the nests. The work was undertaken across four sites ranging from the oilfields of Prudhoe bay to the remote National Petroleum Reserve of western Arctic Alaska. The scientists looked at nesting plots at different intervals in the early spring. Other variables, like the abundance of nest predators (which is thought to affect the timing of breeding) and satellite measurements of "greenup" (the seasonal flush of the new growth of vegetation) in the tundra were also assessed as potential drivers, but were found to be less important than snow melt. Deutsche Welle


Russian Navy Plans on Commissioning Undersea Reconnaissance Drone in 2 Years. A submersible drone with an unusual propulsion system is likely to be in service in the Russian Navy by 2017. Underwater trackers will use an energy-efficient air-bladder principle, inspired by nature, to glide through the water, Izvestia daily reports. Stealthy, highly autonomous torpedo-like underwater vessels equipped with multiple sensors and detectors are expected to remain operational for up to 90 days, monitoring an assigned maritime area and reporting emergency intrusions to a command operations center. RT

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.R. 4870, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act. (The House-passed version of the bill was received in the Senate and referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.)


H.R. 4194, the Government Reports Elimination Act. (The House-passed bill was ordered to be reported favorably with amendment by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.)

Future Events


ICETECH 2014, July 28-31, 2014 (Banff, Alberta, Canada). The International Conference and Exhibition on Performance of Ships and Structures on Ice (ICETECH) is organized by the Arctic Section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. The theme of the conference is performance of ships and structures in ice (icebreaking ships, ice resistant structures, and operations in ice) with emphasis and special sessions on looking to the future in a warming world. The conference will cover topics including:Global warming implications to Arctic ships and structures; Icebreaking ships, Naval Architecture, construction, and marine operations; Structures in ice/iceberg populated waters; Construction and logistics in ice-covered areas; Ice management; New offshore developments in ice-covered areas; Subsea pipelines and facilities in ice; Marine systems for offshore drilling and production operations in ice; Codes, regulations and standards; Ice conditions, forecasting and remote sensing; Safety, risk and environmental protection; Escape, Evacuation and Rescue (EER); and Arctic Geopolitics.


Alaska Policy Commission. August 26-27, 2014 (Kotzebue-Nome, Alaska).

The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission (AAPC) has more important work to do in 2014. The Commission will strive to gather public input and engage with Alaskan communities, state agencies, federal partners, and the international organizations working in the Arctic. In order to meet our goals AAPC will convene three in-person meetings over the course of 2014 and focus on implementation and final recommendations.  


World Trade Center Alaska: Arctic Ambitions Trade Mission to Northern Europe, September 4-14, 2014 (Finland-Norway-Iceland). The Trade Mission will visit Northern and Arctic Europe starting September 4th in Finland and ending September 14 in Iceland, with an intermediary stop in Norway. The itinerary includes three days in each country and features visits to Arctic communities. Familiarization with Northern Europe's economies, and in particular commercial development in the Arctic, is the main goal of this trade mission. The participants will gain useful networking opportunities and a wealth of information on these three countries. For registration and information, please contact WTCAK at (907) 278-7233.


Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, September 9-11, 2014 (Whitehorse, Canada). The Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region is a biennial conference for parliamentarians representing the eight Arctic countries and the European Parliament. The biennial conference is attended by representatives from the national parliaments of the Arctic states and the European Parliament. The Arctic indigenous peoples are permanent participants to the cooperation. Observers participate from governments and inter-parliamentary organizations as well as from observer states and relevant international organizations. 


2014 Week of the Arctic, October 6-11, 2014 (Nome, Kotzebue and Barrow, Alaska, USA). The Institute of the North will host the 2014 Week of the Arctic. The 2014 Week of the Arctic is a platform for community leaders, subject matter experts and interested stakeholders to learn about the Arctic while contributing to a growing list of priorities and perspectives. Presentations, roundtable discussions and workshops will be held in Nome, Kotzebue and Barrow. Throughout the week, presentations and interviews will be captured on video for distribution through social media and web-based sharing.


2014 FAMOS School and Workshop #3, October 21-24, 2014 (Woods Hole, MA). The Forum for Arctic Ocean Modeling and Observational Synthesis (FAMOS) is an international effort to focus on enhancing collaboration and coordination among Arctic marine and sea ice modelers, theoreticians and observationalists synthesize major results from the field studies and coordinated numerical experiments. The major themes of workshop include but not limited by studies focused on: predictions; Arctic observational and modeling initiatives; fate of sea ice in models and observations; atmospheric, sea ice and ocean dynamics; process studies and parameterizations; model validation and calibration; numerical improvements and algorithms; ecosystems, biological issues, and geochemistry.


Transatlantic Science Week 2014, October 27-28, 2014 (Toronto, Canada). The purpose of the annual Transatlantic Science Week (TSW) is to promote enhanced cooperation between Canadian, American and Norwegian stakeholders in research, innovation and higher education. TSW is an arena where different stakeholders can meet with the purpose of developing long-term collaborations or partnerships. The conference also hopes to strengthen the linkages that currently exist between the research and education domains. Finally, TSW also provides an excellent arena for dialogue between the research communities and policymakers. 


Arctic Circle, October 31-November 2, 2014 (Reyjavik, Iceland).

The Arctic Circle is nonprofit and nonpartisan. Organizations, forums, think tanks, corporations and public associations around the world are invited to hold meetings within the Arctic Circle platform to advance their own missions and the broader goal of increasing collaborative decision-making without surrendering their institutional independence. The Arctic Circle will organize sessions on a variety of issues, such as: Sea ice melt and extreme weather; Polar law: treaties and agreements; The role and rights of indigenous peoples; Security in the Arctic; Shipping and transportation infrastructure; The prospects and risks of oil and gas drilling; Clean energy achievements and sustainable development; Arctic resources; Business cooperation in the Arctic; The role of Asian and European countries in the Arctic; Greenland in the new Arctic; Fisheries and ecosystem management; The science of ice: global research cooperation; Arctic tourism; The ice-dependent world: the Arctic and the Himalayas. 

US- Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum, November 4-6, 2014 (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada). Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and the Canadian Polar Commission in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior, are hosting the fourth Canada - United States Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum. The Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum is a biennial meeting with representation from government, industry, academia, Aboriginal groups and Northerners from both Canada and the United States. The Forum provides an opportunity to discuss current and future priorities for northern oil and gas research. The Forum will showcase the value of northern research in support of sound decision-making for oil and gas management.


Alaska Policy Commission. November 13-14, 2014 (Anchorage, Alaska). The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission (AAPC) has more important work to do in 2014. The Commission will strive to gather public input and engage with Alaskan communities, state agencies, federal partners, and the international organizations working in the Arctic. In order to meet our goals AAPC will convene three in-person meetings over the course of 2014 and focus on implementation and final recommendations. 


The Arctic Biodiversity Congress, December 2-4, 2014 (Trondheim, Norway). The Arctic Biodiversity Congress will present and discuss the main scientific findings of the ABA; facilitate inter-disciplinary discussion, action and status updates on the policy recommendations in the ABA; provide scientific, policy, management, NGO, academia, Indigenous peoples and industry audiences the opportunity to collaborate around the themes of the ABA; advise CAFF on national and international implementation of the ABA recommendations and on the development of an ABA Implementation Plan for the Arctic Council; highlight the work of CAFF and the Arctic Council on circumpolar biodiversity conservation and sustainable development; and, contribute to mainstreaming of biodiversity and ecosystem services, ensuring that the recommendations of the ABA are implemented by not just governments, but many organizations and people across disciplines.


Arctic Change 2014, December 8-12, 2014 (Ottawa, Canada). The international Arctic Change 2014 conference aims to stimulate discussion and foster collaborations among people with a vested interest in the Arctic and its peoples. Coinciding with the pinnacle of Canada's chairmanship of the Arctic Council and marking ArcticNet's 10th anniversary, Arctic Change 2014 welcomes researchers, students, Northerners, policy makers, and stakeholders from all fields of Arctic research and all countries to address the numerous environmental, social, economical and political challenges and opportunities that are emerging from climate change and modernization in the Arctic. With over 1000 participants expected to attend, Arctic Change 2014 will be one of the largest trans-sectoral international Arctic research conferences ever held in Canada. 


Arctic Frontiers: Climate and Energy, January 18-23, 2015. The earth is in the midst of major climate changes. The Arctic is experiencing the impact of these changes more and faster than other parts of the globe. Processes starting in the Arctic may have deep and profound impacts on other parts of the globe. At the same time the Earth's population is rising and with it the global energy demand. New and greener energy sources are gaining market shares, but still the energy mix of the foreseeable future will have a substantial fossil component. The Arctic is expected to hold major oil and gas resources, while the regions green energy potentials are less explored. The Arctic Frontiers conference is a central arena for discussions of Arctic issues. The conference brings together representatives from science, politics, and civil society to share perspectives on how upcoming challenges in the Arctic may be addressed to ensure sustainable development. Arctic Frontiers is composed of a policy section and a scientific section. 

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