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Arctic Daily Update: February 1, 2016


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February 1, 2016  
Today's Congressional Action:  
The House is in session and expected to consider the Coast Guard authorization among other legislative items. The Senate is expected to consider the Energy Policy Modernization Act. 
Ambassador to the Arctic: Meet President Obama's Point Man for Alaska. Alaska leaders have been making use of a new Washington connection lately: the man in charge of President Barack Obama's year-old initiative to coordinate federal activity in the Arctic. Mark Brzezinski has been tasked with ferrying through the pile of promises Obama brought along when he spent three days in Alaska last year. Brzezinski took the helm in August as executive director of the Arctic Executive Steering Committee, a White House initiative to oversee the many agencies of the federal government with a hand in the U.S. Arctic. The president's chief of science and technology, John Holdren, chairs the committee. Alaska Dispatch News
Experts: Climate Change Intensifies Weird Winter Weather- El Nino, 'The Blob.' Temperatures climbed above freezing again this week throughout Alaska. It's the latest of several warm spells that've kept temperatures unseasonably high in this part of the Arctic this winter. And it raises the question whether climate change is a factor. "No weather event is completely independent of climate change," says University of Alaska-Fairbanks research professor John Walsh. KUAC
Environmental Groups Want Arctic Council Support for Ban on Heavy Fuel Oil. Environmental groups want the eight countries that ring the North Pole to take a stand on banning the use of heavy fuel oil, considered one of the greatest threats to the Arctic ecosystem. "We believe that measures are desperately needed to reduce the environmental impacts from Arctic shipping, and that a logical place to focus attention is vessel fuel quality," said the letter from 15 international environmental groups to the Arctic Council. CTV News
Modified Hummers to Make 400-Mile Trek Across Arctic Ocean to Barrow. A team of adventurers planning to drive a pair of hybrid Hummers to the South Pole later this year will soon test the specially modified vehicles on a 400-mile run across the frozen Arctic Ocean off the Alaska coast. The "micro-expedition" leaving the Prudhoe Bay oil fields next week will give organizers a chance to drive the vehicles in subzero temperatures under the eyes of an Alaska off-road guide trained to handle polar bear encounters, according to the group's application for a state land-use permit. While polar bears won't be an issue in Antarctica, cold and ice will. Alaska Dispatch News
Scientists Seek Ways to Treat Acidification Ocean, Keep Shellfish Hatcheries Open. Alaska's Shellfish hatcheries are worried that they may have to shut down their operations like hatcheries further south did when waters got too acidic to grow healthy shellfish. Willey Evans, a researcher with the Hakai Institute in British Columbia is working with Aleutic Pride shellfish hatchery in Seward.  Looking at the numbers, he says Alaskan hatcheries don't have that long to wait before their waters reach dangerous corrosive levels. They can monitor it now. "2040 seems to be the year when we will be at an atmospheric co2 level that will be problematic for growing these organisms in these hatcheries without doing some sort of mitigation strategy," said Evans. KNBA
Arctic Islands Ditch Coal Mines for Research. A Norwegian chain of Arctic islands is seeking to turn numbing cold and total winter darkness into a draw for visitors who usually only venture north for the midnight sun during fleeting summers. The new focus on winter in the Svalbard archipelago, 1,200 kilometers from the North Pole, is part of a drive to attract tourism and environmental research to diversify the economy after a century of dependence on now-failing coal mines. The Japan News
Glaciers on Svalbard Behave Differently. Many glaciers on Svalbard behave very differently from other glaciers worldwide. They advance massively for some years and then quickly retreat - and then remain quiescent for fifty to a hundred years - before they once again start to advance. One of the many dangers resulting from global warming is the melting of glaciers. To ascertain how this will affect sea levels in the future, it is important to know how glaciers behave. Phys.org
Ocean Glider Used to Record Marine Mammals in Arctic. Cutting-edge research used an ocean glider last summer to zigzag along the Arctic coast between Kotzebue and Wainwright and listen for marine mammals. Researchers found most of the protected animals favor offshore Bering Sea currents as opposed to near-shore Arctic Ocean currents. Walrus were most prevalent. Mark Baumgartner, associate scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a presenter at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium this week, spoke about using the Slocum Ocean Glider in Arctic waters. He said while it is known the Arctic is home to a diverse group of marine mammals, basic information about the ocean features and marine mammal distribution is "sorely lacking." Alaska Dispatch News
Legislative Action 
No Arctic legislation was formally considered Friday.
Future Events
Marine Mammal Commission Arctic Listening Sessions, February 3, 5, 9, 11, 2016 (Locations include: Barrow, Kotzebue, Nome and Anchorage, Alaska, USA). The Arctic is changing faster than anywhere else on earth. How is climate change impacting the Arctic marine environment and subsistence hunting of marine mammals by Alaska Native communities? We will focus on these questions at a series of listening sessions in Alaska in early February. Our goal is to gain a better understanding of how climate change is impacting Alaska Native communities and the marine mammals upon which they depend, and hear your ideas on actions that can be taken in response.
Alaska Forum on the Environment, February 8-12, 2016 (Anchorage, Alaska, USA). The Alaska Forum on the Environment (AFE) is Alaska's largest statewide gathering of environmental professionals from government agencies, non-profit and for-profit businesses, community leaders, Alaskan youth, conservationists, biologists and community elders. The diversity of attendees and comprehensive agenda sets this conference apart from any other. Each year there are over 80 technical breakout sessions and sensational Keynote Events. There will be a full week of sessions on climate change, energy, environmental regulations, cleanup and remediation, fish & wildlife, solid waste, and more.
Senate Energy Committee Field Hearing, February 15, 2016 (Bethel, Alaska, USA). The US Senate Energy Committee will hold a field hearing in Alaska.  The purpose of the hearing is to examine energy technology innovation and deployment - opportunities for Alaska's energy future.
ARCUS DC Arctic Research Seminar Series, February 18, 2016 (Washington, DC). Does it seem as though the weather gods have gone crazy lately? It is not your imagination. The question on everyone's minds is why? And is it related to climate change? In this presentation, I will explain new research that links increasing extreme weather events with the rapidly warming and melting Arctic during recent decades. Evidence suggests that Arctic warming is causing weather patterns to become more persistent, which can lead to extremes such as droughts, cold spells, heat waves, and some flooding events. 
43rd Annual Meeting of the Alaska Anthropological Association, March 2-6, 2016 (Sitka, Alaska, USA). The Alaska Anthropological Association will be holding its 43rd Annual Meeting in Sitka, Alaska. This year it is being organized by archaeologists and anthropologists of the National Park Service - Alaska Region.
5th Annual Fletcher Opening Arctic Conference, March 12, 2016. The Opening Arctic Conference builds on the Fletcher School's Warming Arctic International Inquiry series, to bring together high-level thought leaders from across disciplines, Fletcher's hallmark. Staged annually, Fletcher's event continues to address the foreign policy, economic, environmental and security implications of the opening Arctic, while dispelling myths.
Arctic Science Summit Week Arctic Observing Summit, March 12-18, 2016 (Fairbanks, AK, USA). ASSW is the annual gathering of international organizations that support and facilitate long-term planning in Arctic research. In 2016, ASSW will be held in conjunction with AOS, which brings people together to facilitate the design, implementation, coordination and sustained long-term operation of an international network of Arctic observing systems.
** New this week** 15th Annual Arctic Health Science Seminar, April 1, 2016 (Anchorage, Alaska, USA). The American Society for Circumpolar Health will host the 15th Annual Arctic Health Science Seminar in Anchorage, Alaska. This event will include the annual meeting of the American Society for Circumpolar Health, the Robert Fortuine Memorial lecture, and the Albrecht Milan Foundation will provide the Albrecht-Milan Emerging Professional Award to one of the Arctic Health Science Seminar presenters. The call for abstracts is open through Monday February 29, 2016.
Alaska Rural Energy Conference, April 26-28, 2016 (Fairbanks, Alaska, USA). The Alaska Rural Energy Conference is a three day event offering a large variety of technical sessions covering new and ongoing energy projects in Alaska, as well as new technologies and needs for Alaska's remote communities. Building on the growing success, the Alaska Energy Authority and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power have joined forces again to organize and sponsor the 10th annual Alaska Rural Energy Conference.   

14th IATS Seminar, June 19-25, 2016 (Bergen, Norway). The University of Bergen (UiB) is honored to host the 14th IATS Seminar in Bergen, Norway, from Sunday 19 to Saturday 25 June 2016 in co-operation with the Network for University Co-operation Tibet-Norway, an academic network with the universities of Oslo, Bergen and Tromsø as partners. The convenor is Professor Hanna Havnevik, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo, and Chair of the Network.
11th International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP 2016), June 20-24, 2016 (Potsdam, Germany). The Alfred Wegener Institute has teamed up with UP Transfer GmbH and the University of Potsdam to organize a great conference for you, permafrost researchers. The conference aims at covering all relevant aspects of permafrost research, engineering and outreach on a global and regional level.
Inuit traditions are a repository of Inuit culture and a primary expression of Inuit identity. The theme for the 2016 Inuit Studies Conference invites Elders, knowledge-bearers, researchers, artists, policy-makers, students and others to engage in conversations about the many ways in which traditions shape understanding, while registering social and cultural change. The institutional hosts of "Inuit Traditions," Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Nunatsiavut Government, invite you to contribute to an exchange of knowledge to be held in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, October 7-10, 2016. Presentations on all aspects of Inuit studies will be welcome.

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