Arctic Daily Update: May 6, 2013
The Senate is expected to pass an Internet tax bill to allow states to collect taxes on more online purchases by their residents. In the House, three minor bills will be considered under suspension.
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.
Is Canada's Proposed Arctic Patrol Ship Plan Turning into Costly Boondoggle? An investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has uncovered a $250-million mystery at the heart of Canada's ambitious shipbuilding program. Canadian Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose and Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced March 7 in Halifax that Ottawa will pay Irving Shipbuilding $288 million just to design -- not build -- a fleet of new Arctic offshore patrol ships. Irving will then build the ships under a separate contract. Alaska Dispatch
Arctic Ocean "Acidifying Rapidly." They say even if CO2 emissions stopped now, it would take tens of thousands of years for Arctic Ocean chemistry to revert to pre-industrial levels. Many creatures, including commercially valuable fish, could be affected. They forecast major changes in the marine ecosystem, but say there is huge uncertainty over what those changes will be. It is well known that CO2 warms the planet, but less well-known that it also makes the alkaline seas more acidic when it is absorbed from the air. BBC News
Why Not Have US Ambassador for the Arctic? [Opinion] In recent weeks, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, has amplified his call for the creation of an Arctic ambassador position. Begich's stance is that the United States needs someone to oversee all things pertaining to Arctic development and diplomacy. Many of the elite group of nations that have territory in the Arctic, as well as several who don't, have already created similar positions. An Arctic ambassador, as he proposes, would interact with the Arctic Council as well as report to U.S. elected officials. This is not a new idea -- Begich has been requesting this position for some time now. In February, he introduced Senate Bill 270, known as the "United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs Act of 2013." In it, the senator notes that 100 million acres of U.S. territory lie above the Arctic Circle. Issues such as climate change, tourism, oil and gas development, trade and ship traffic and even immigration are all emerging as large-scale international topics for Arctic nations, and ones that would be well served by having an ambassador. Alaska Dispatch
Arctic Shipping to Play Bigger Role. A transportation expert is calling Arctic shipping one of the main global challenges facing Canada and Nunavut. The Canadian Arctic Marine Transportation and Governance Workshop was held in Iqaluit last week. The one day gathering brought people together to talk about diplomatic, economic and commercial activity taking place in the Arctic Ocean. John Higginbotham, a senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ontario, said with less sea ice in the future, a new maritime economy has to be developed to connect communities. CBC News
Coast Guard Expects to Cut Back on Arctic Patrols. The Coast Guard expects to scale back on its Arctic patrols this summer because of budget cuts and a lack of commercial traffic. How much Arctic deployments are decreasing is still being debated as crews from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak fan out across the state for summer deployments. The Coast Guard deployed helicopters, C-130 fixed-wing aircraft and Coast Guard cutters to the Arctic Ocean last summer to provide search-and-rescue coverage. KTOO
House Expects to Move Spending Bills in June. The House is on track to start taking up fiscal 2014 spending bills in June, even without first reaching a budget agreement with the Senate on funding levels. A GOP leadership aide confirmed that appropriations bills will be brought to the floor next month under an open amendment process. To get work started on the spending bills, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., in mid-May will likely ask his committee to approve his plan for dividing up roughly $967 billion in fiscal 2014 discretionary spending among the 12 annual spending bills, a step known as making 302(b) allocations. Congressional Quarterly
Tidal Energy Potential in Aleutians Blows Expectations Out of Water. Tidal power technology is one of the newest forays into alternative energy. Its development has a long way to go, but its potential is raising science eyebrows around the country. Right now, that interest is directed at False Pass, a far-flung Alaska town in the Aleutians Islands chain. A recent feasibility study aimed to evaluate how much juice a power generator could get by harnessing the tidal movement through narrow Isanotski Strait. After going over the books, researchers' expectations are being blown out of the water. Alaska Dispatch
Low-Level Eruption at Alaska's Cleveland Volcano. Alaska's Cleveland Volcano is undergoing a continuous low-level eruption following an explosion early Saturday morning, scientists from the Alaska Volcano Observatory and the U.S. Geological Survey said. Satellites and cameras suggest low-level emissions of gas, steam and ash, scientists said, and satellites detected highly elevated surface temperatures at the summit. A faint plume of ash extended eastward below 15,000 feet, but the Federal Aviation Administration said there were no flight restrictions as a result. Alaska Dispatch
Burgeoning Humpback Whale Population Leads to Call for Easing Protections. Hawaiian fisherman are calling on the U.S. government to remove some humpback whales from the endangered species list. The Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance for Conservation and Tradition Inc., a coalition of fishing clubs and groups from across the islands, says that the whale's population has rebounded with conservation efforts since 1970, when the humpbacks were designated as endangered. One population of the North Pacific whales migrate between Hawaii and Alaska, arriving in the northern waters beginning in May. Food is abundant there, and they tend to congregate in Southeast Alaska, Prince William Sound, Kodiak, the Barren Islands at the mouth of Cook Inlet, and along the Aleutian Islands. In 2007, however, humpbacks were seen in the Beaufort Sea east of Barrow, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, suggesting a northward expansion of their feeding grounds. Humpbacks are particularly popular in Glacier Bay and Southeast Alaska, where numerous sightseeing boats await them. Alaska Dispatch
Seafood Industry Boosts Alaska Seasonal Employment. Seasonal employment is heating up in Alaska as the seafood industry takes on thousands of temporary workers. Employment is thriving in many industries, but seasonal jobs are the top ticket right now, said state economist Neal Fried. Seasonal jobs generally grow from 3,000 in December to more than 20,000 during their peak in July or August each year, he said. Anchorage Daily News
No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.
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."
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 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.
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.