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Arctic Daily Update: November 23, 2015


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November 23, 2015  
Today's Congressional Action:   
The House and Senate are not in session. 
Enormous Mounds of Methane Found Under the Arctic Sea: Underwater Pingos May Reveal 'Worrying' Clues About Climate Change. Huge mounds filled with methane have been discovered forming on the frozen sea bed of the Arctic Ocean, raising fears they are being caused by climate change. Scientists fear thawing permafrost beneath the ocean is causing methane to become free, forming underwater pingos - mounds of earth and ice - off the coast of the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia.Similar structures are thought to be behind enormous craters that have appeared on the land on the peninsula as methane exploded out of the Earth. Daily Mail
NOAA Climate Feud: Pursuit of Scientific Truth vs. Public Accountability. The standoff between federal climate scientists and a senior House Republican over a groundbreaking global warming study is exposing an emerging tension over government research: the freedom to pursue scientific truth vs. the public's right to know what is being done with taxpayer money. The flash point in the feud between House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a congressional subpoena. The congressman, a prominent global warming skeptic, is demanding that the government turn over its scientists' internal exchanges and communications with NOAA's top political appointees. Washington Post
Holdren Top US Science Adviser: 'We Cannot Stop Climate Change... We Need to be Prepared.' "No matter what we do ... we cannot stop climate change in its tracks," says John Holdren, President Obama's science adviser. "It's already having significant impacts. Those impacts will grow, and we need to be prepared for that." Holdren says it's no longer realistic to focus on mitigating the causes of climate change - efforts such as limiting carbon emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. KUAC
Thinning Ice Leads to Winter Warming in the Arctic. Even when the Arctic goes dark and cold, thinning ice could keep the North Pole from cooling off. The loss of insulating ice between the ocean and atmosphere increases the amount of heat-trapping water vapor and clouds in the Arctic air. That extra moisture keeps air temperatures relatively warm during fall and winter and melts even more ice, new climate simulations suggest. This self-reinforcing cycle could partially explain why Arctic warming has outpaced the global average over recent decades, researchers report online November 11 in the Journal of Climate. Science News
Arctic Field Research Season Poses Challenges. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) 2015/16 field season is underway with dozens of scientists and support staff - together with planes and tonnes of equipment and fresh supplies - arriving at BAS's five Antarctic research stations. This year's science and operational campaigns involve over 250 scientists from BAS, the UK and international research institutions. Major international collaborations utilize specially equipped Twin Otter aircraft to capture new data that will advance understanding about the future stability of a key Antarctic ice shelf and to generate new knowledge about the Earth's gravitational field from an area that cannot be surveyed by satellites. Hydro International
polar bear matt Polar Bear Populations Could Plummet by 30% in Next Few Decades Due to Climate Change, Report Finds. The planet's 26,000 remaining polar bears could see their population decline by 30 per cent in the coming decades due to global warming and the continued melting of arctic sea ice. According to a report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), one of the world's most influential conservationist groups, global warming is now the single biggest threat to the long-term surival of the polar bear as a species. The Independent
Harmful Algal Toxin Found in Stranded Minke Whale. A dead minke whale that washed up on the beach near Cape Nome in August tested positive for domoic acid, a neurotoxin produced by algal diatoms, confirmed Kathi Lefebvre, a research biologist with the North- west Fisheries Science Center at NOAA and the founder of the Wildlife Algal-toxin Research and Response Network for the U.S. West Coast. Diatoms are a type of algae that thrive in warmer waters and some types called pseudo-nitzschia can produce the poison called do- moic acid. Brandon Ahmasuk with Kaw- erak's Subsistence Program and Gay Sheffield with UAF Alaska Sea Grant responded to the report of the dead whale and sampled it. The eye- ball was tested in Lefebvre's Seattle lab. The eyeball indicated a signifi- cant presence of the toxin. However, Lefebvre said, this does not mean that the animal died of it and the cause of death remains unknown. The Nome Nugget
Legislative Action 
No Arctic legislation was formally considered Friday.
Future Events
In the Spirit of the Rovaniemi Process 2015, November 24-26, 2015 (Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland).When the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, the so-called Rovaniemi Process, was adopted in 1991, it aimed at overcoming divisions and turning the zone of Cold War military tensions into a region of peace and co-operation. In this joint effort focusing on the protection of environment, and later, sustainable development, the Arctic states supported by indigenous organizations laid grounds for institutionalized collaboration and the emergence of Arctic regional identity. The second international conference will bring together decision-makers, scholars, artists, designers and students to address these questions and discuss the Arctic in global, regional and local perspectives.
[Proposals due 11/27/2015] 14th IATS Seminar, June 19-25, 2016 (Bergen, Norway). Interested contributors to the session the 'Third Pole': science diplomacy and transnational connections between Tibet, the Arctic and Antarctic should send their proposed contribution to Rasmus Bertelsen by 11/27/15.
Arctic Council and Beyond, December 4, 2015 (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). This one-day conference hosted by The Northern Institute will focus on the role of the Arctic Council as a forum for Arctic cooperation, the place of the Arctic in Canada's foreign policy and approach to the circumpolar world, the role of the Arctic in global relations in light of the increasing interest in the region by European and Asian states, and the voice of Indigenous Peoples within the Arctic Council and in shaping circumpolar countries' Arctic policies.
Paris Arctic Climate Research Strategy Meeting, December 4, 2015 (Paris, France). The purpose of this facilitated discussion is to discuss future regional, national, and international funding opportunities for interdisciplinary Arctic climate research and develop concrete ideas for such research. All disciplines across humanities, social and natural sciences, art, health, technology and others as well as representatives of research, government, civil society, business and others are encouraged to attend.
The Arctic and Nordic Climate Science, Technology and Diplomacy in a Global Context, December 5, 2015 (Paris, France). This side event of the UN Climate Change Conference will address how the five Nordic countries, including their self-governing communities (Aaland Islands, Faroe Islands and Greenland) and indigenous peoples (Inuit and Sami) contribute to global climate diplomacy, regulation, mitigation and adaptation through Arctic science, technology and diplomacy.
Arctic Encounter Paris (AEP 2015), December 11-12, 2015 (Paris, France) (During the UN Convention on Climate Change - COP21). The Arctic Encounter Paris (AEP) will take place at the French Senate at Luxembourg Palace and the French Military College, École Militaire, in Paris, France, on the final days of the monumental United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP21) where thousands of global citizens and government delegates will be gathered to deliberate the world's response to our changing planet in Paris. The AEP is the only Arctic policy and economics side event currently planned to take place during the UN Convention. A reception will take place following the closing panel.
AGU logoFall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, December 14-18, 2015 (San Francisco, California). The 48th meeting of the union brings together nearly 24,000attendees, and lots of Arctic research results. The scientific program is here. There will be several Arctic-related "Town Hall" meetings, including those sponsored by NASA, DOE, NSF, ISAC, IARPC, and SEARCH.
 This symposium is part of an ongoing initiative of the National Academies of Science Polar Research Board to expand public understanding of why the dramatic changes affecting the Arctic region ultimately matter to us all.  The agenda features engaging presentations and discussions with top Arctic science and policy experts, and displays and interactive exhibits that illustrate Arctic change and its global impacts.  The event is free and open to the public.  There are sponsorship opportunities, and a call for exhibitor applications (by Oct.31, 2015).  Audience space is limited, so register today; and please encourage your friends, neighbors, and colleagues to participate-as our goal is to reach well beyond the small circle of specialists who typically attend Arctic-themed events in the DC area.   The U.S. Arctic Research Commission is helping to sponsor this event.
Building upon the preceding Arctic Encounter event in Paris, the third annual Arctic Encounter Symposium (AES) in Seattle, Washington will convene policymakers, industry leaders, and leading experts to confront the leading issues in Arctic policy, innovation, and development. As the largest annual Arctic policy event in the United States, the AES mission is to raise awareness, engage challenges, and develop solutions for the future of a region and a people. The two-day program includes two keynote luncheons, expert plenary sessions, break out sessions, a networking cocktail reception and seated dinner. A closing reception will take place at the conclusion of the program.
**New this week** 2016 Arctic Frontiers, January 24-29, 2015 (Tromso¸, Norway).The Arctic is a global crossroad between commercial and environmental interests. The region holds substantial natural resources and many actors are investigating ways to utilise these for economic gain. Others view the Arctic as a particularly pristine and vulnerable environment and highlight the need to limit industrial development. Arctic Frontiers 2016 will discuss the balance between resource utilisation and preservation, and between industrial and environmental interests in the Arctic. Envisioning a well-planned, well-governed, and sustainable development in the Arctic, how can improved Arctic stewardship help balance environmental concerns with industrial expansion? How can the industrial footprints from future business activities be minimised? And last, but not least, what role will existing and emerging technologies play in making industrial development profitable and environmentally friendly, securing a sustainable growth scenario for Arctic communities?
16th Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 25-29, 2016 (Anchorage, AK, USA)No detailed info yet (common guys...), but a valuable meeting, focusing on research results from the Gulf of Alaska, the Bering Sea, and the Arctic Ocean. Good, in-depth, research from Alaska's marine regions. AMSS.
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.
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.
ICETECH 2016, August 15-18, 2016 (Anchorage, Alaska, USA). The Arctic Section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) together with Alaska's Institute of the North (ION) will host the International Conference and Exhibition on Performance of Ships and Structures in Ice (ICETECH 16), the premiere international conference on ships and structures in ice. The conference will take place in Anchorage starting with an opening icebreaker reception on the evening of Monday, August 15, and concluding in the afternoon on Thursday August 18, with a possible workshop on Arctic EER on Friday August 19. 
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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