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Arctic Daily Update: May 17, 2013

Today's Events

The House is expected to pass legislation regarding the Securities and Exchange Commission . The Senate is not in session.

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Media

permafrost Research into Carbon Storage in Arctic Tundra Reveals Unexpected Insight into Ecosystem Resiliency. When UC Santa Barbara doctoral student Seeta Sistla and her adviser, environmental studies professor Josh Schimel, went north not long ago to study how long-term warming in the Arctic affects carbon storage, they had made certain assumptions. "We expected that because of the long-term warming, we would have lost carbon stored in the soil to the atmosphere," said Schimel. The gradual warming, he explained, would accelerate decomposition on the upper layers of what would have previously been frozen or near-frozen earth, releasing the greenhouse gas into the air. Because high latitudes contain nearly half of all global soil carbon in their ancient permafrost -- permanently frozen soil -- even a few degrees' rise in temperature could be enough to release massive quantities, turning a carbon repository into a carbon emitter. Phys.Org

New Book: Arctic Calls- Finland, the European Union and the Arctic Region. Europe Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland, published on Thursday 16th May 2013 the book Arctic Calls - Finland, the European Union and the Arctic Region. The book is written by Head of Science Communications Markku Heikkilä and Science communicator Marjo Laukkanen, both from the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland. The Arctic is undergoing dramatic changes, while international interest in the world´s northernmost regions is growing rapidly. This book helps us to see and understand the background to this trend. Through personal experiences, diverse illustrations and numerous interviews, it puts a human face on the Arctic Region. Arctic Centre

Norway Oil Development Can Big Oil Handle the Arctic? With the public increasingly worried about oil spills, some aboriginal groups are calling for an Arctic drilling moratorium, and the oil industry as keen as ever to tap Northern deposits, oil spill response preparedness was a big topic of discussion at the Arctic Council meeting in Sweden this week. As Canada, which has large untapped deposits under the Beaufort Sea, assumed its chairmanship on Wednesday, the group of the eight nations that surround the North Pole signed a pact on oil spill prevention in Kiruna, Sweden's most northern city. Financial Post

Arctic Council's Indigenous Participants Eye Arctic Council Under Aglukkaq: "We trust that this cooperation will continue." Will Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's Arctic Council minister, carry out her determination to "put the interests of the people of the Arctic first" during Canada's chairmanship of the Arctic Council? That's the hope of representatives of the Arctic Council's indigenous permanent participant groups, who attended the May 15 Arctic Council ministerial in Kiruna, Sweden. Nunatsiaq Online

NOAA NOAA Issues New Nautical Chart for Bering Strait: Chart Improves Navigational Safety for Maritime Gateway to the Arctic. NOAA Office of Coast Survey has released a new nautical chart for the Arctic, which will help mariners navigate the Bering Strait. Chart 16190 (Bering Strait North) incorporates precise depth measurements acquired recently by NOAA Ship Fairweather hydrographic surveys. Coast Survey is also releasing a new edition of Chart 16220 (St Lawrence Island to Bering Strait). "Our Arctic Nautical Charting Plan identified the need for 14 new charts in the Arctic," explains Commander Shep Smith, chief of Coast Survey's Marine Chart Division. "Chart 16190 was high on our list of priorities, since the Bering Strait is the maritime gateway from the Bering Sea in the Pacific Ocean to Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Ocean." The Maritime Executive

University of the Arctic Report Urges Quick Action on Arctic Policies. Arctic nations should move quickly to adopt shipping rules, improve safeguards against oil spills and create environmental and safety standards in polar waters, according to a new report released from the University of the Arctic's Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy. The report is the fifth produced by the IACP, a partnership among the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Dartmouth College and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The institute promotes discussion of critical policy issues facing the circumpolar North as a result of climate change. Sit News

As North Pole Melts, US Arctic Policy Needs to Heat Up. This week's decision by the Arctic Council, led by the eight nations with Arctic territory, to accept China, India, Japan and three other countries as new observers points to the region's growing importance. It's also a sharp reminder of the need for the U.S., the council's biggest player, to do more to prevent a destabilizing Great Game from unfolding at the top of the world. Behind the Arctic's intensifying geopolitics are some powerful geophysics. Climate change is causing Arctic ice to melt at an accelerating rate. Last summer, the area of ice covering theArctic Ocean was about half what it was, on average, from 1980 to 2000. The thickness of the remaining ice had diminished by 80 percent over the same period. The late-summer Arctic could regularly be ice-free as soon as the 2030s, according to some estimates. Bloomberg

Canada Wants Permanent Fix for EU Seal Hunt Dispute: Aglukkaq: "I will not work to try to address this issue for Canada." Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, the head of Canada's Arctic Council chairmanship, told reporters May 15 that she wants to seek a permanent resolution to the dispute between Canada and the European Union over the EU's ban on the importation of seal products. "I will now work to try to address this issue for Canada and try to address this issue once and for all," Aglukkaq said at a press teleconference. At the May 15 Kiruna ministerial meeting, the Arctic Council's member states, who must make decisions by consensus, deferred the granting of observer status to the EU until after "the concerns of Council members" are resolved. Nunatsiaq Online

House Appropriations Set 'Austere' Allocations on $967 Billion Budget Cap. House appropriators began sharing proposed allocations for appropriations bills for fiscal 2014 on Thursday, with plans to seek committee approval next week. With overall base discretionary spending held to $967 billion, the allocations include $513 billion for defense and $73 billion for military construction and veterans affairs as measured by budget authority. War spending and mandatory funds would bring the defense total to $599 billion. Congressional Quarterly

Appropriations Chief Rogers Says New Spending Allocations May be Reset. The top House appropriator already anticipates having to reshuffle more than once how money is divided among the dozen annual spending bills the committee will handle. House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., on May 21 will unveil the panel's distribution of roughly $967 billion available among the bills, releasing what is known as 302(b) allocations. But Rogers says those numbers may be only the first attempt to cope with what he calls a "tough" budget cap. Congressional Quarterly

Coast Guard Seal Coast Guard Shifting Arctic Operations Off Alaska to the West This Season. The U.S. Coast Guard unveiled a westward-leaning 2013 Arctic Shield operations plan Thursday, emphasizing its commitment to a region facing increased traffic and scrutiny. The Coast Guard will have a number of assets in the Arctic this season -- including two ice-breaking vessels, the Polar Star and the Healy -- as well as a National Security Cutter. The biggest change will be designating the northwestern town of Kotzebue as the Guard's Forward Operating Location, serving as the staging area for a Coast Guard helicopter and its crew. Last year, the Coast Guard operated out of Barrow, on Alaska's northern coast and closer to the Beaufort and Chukchi seas as Royal Dutch Shell began drilling operations in those areas.  After the grounding of the Kulluk conical drilling unit near Kodiak Island, Shell decided to sit out this summer and work on repairing its rigs. Alaska Dispatch

Freshwater Seals of Lake Iliamna Enlisted in Pebble Mine Clash. Alaska's largest deepwater lake ripples with mystery, including one that federal regulators hope to unravel in a newly announced review that some hope will stop the giant Pebble Mine prospect.  The Fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Thursday they'll seek to determine whether the unusual freshwater harbor seals in Iliamna Lake in Southwest Alaska are a distinct population, and whether they should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Alaska Dispatch

Alaska Volcano Continues to Erupt, With Lava, Ash. A remote Alaska volcano continues to erupt, spewing lava and ash clouds. The Alaska Volcano Observatory said Thursday a continuous cloud of ash, steam and gas from Pavlof Volcano has been seen 20,000 feet above sea level. The cloud was moving to the southeast Thursday. John Power, the U.S. Geological Survey scientist in charge at the observatory, estimates the lava fountain rose several hundred feet into the air. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Legislative Action

No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.

Future Events

 
**New** Coast Guard Hearing on the Grounding of the Kulluk, (May 20, 2013) (Anchorage, Alaska).The Coast Guard will hold a formal marine casualty investigation hearing.  Marine casualty investigations are held to conduct investigations following marine casualties to determine the causal and contributing factors that led to the incident. This allows the Coast Guard to potentially save lives and protect the environment in the future by identifying what went wrong and how it can be avoided in the future.

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-­-IDDO), International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS), International Glaciological Society (IGS). Following in the footsteps of the sixprevious ice drilling technology workshops held between 1974 and 2006, the Seventh International Workship on Ice Drilling Technology will take a comprehensive look a the latest innovations in ice drilling technology, including ice coring, borehole logging, subglacial sampling, core logging and handling, and field logistics.

The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit, October 8-10, (Akureyri, Iceland). The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit is a multidisciplinary event expected to draw together several hundred industry officials, scientists, academics, policymakers, energy professionals and community leaders to collaborate and share leading approaches on Arctic energy issues. Building on the work done at the highly successful 2007 Arctic Energy Summit and Technology Conference, the 2013 Summit will address energy extraction, production and transmission in the Arctic as it relates to three thematic areas: richness, resilience and responsibility.  The 2013 Summit will be hosted by the Institute of the North in cooperation with local host Arctic Portal.

The Inaugural Meeting of The Arctic Circle, October 12-14, 2013 (Reykjavik, Iceland). The inaugural Arctic Circle will be held October 12-14, 2013. Subsequent Arctic Circle gatherings will be held in a different Arctic location each year, so that participants can become familiar with the challenges, needs and opportunities presented by these unique environments. The agenda for the first Arctic Circle gathering will include plenary sessions with international leaders on emerging topics of interest, such as: Sea ice melt and extreme weather; Security in the Arctic; Fisheries and ecosystem management; Shipping and transportation infrastructure; Arctic Resources; and Tourism.

Community Oil Spill Response in Bering and Anadyr Straights, (November 7-8, 2013) (Anchorage, Alaska). This workshop will bring together a diversity of stakeholders to advance a collective dialog to learn more about and respond to community desires to be part of oil spill first-response efforts that help protect food security and other local resources; come to agreement on the multiple roles local community members can play in responding to oil spills; and create an action plan for moving forward on this topic. The workshop is sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society. 

Arctic Cities, Global Processes, and Local Realities, December 2-4, 2013 (Rovaniemi, 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.

 

USARC • 4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 510 • Arlington, Virginia 22203 USA • 703.525.0111 • info@arctic.gov  arctic.gov

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