2009 SEARCH Sea Ice Outlook Effort Underway
Witness the Arctic provides information on current arctic research efforts and findings, significant research initiatives, national policy affecting arctic research, international activities, and profiles of institutions with major arctic research efforts. Witness serves an audience of arctic scientists, educators, agency personnel, and policy makers. Witness was published biannually in hardcopy from 1995-2008 (archives are available below) and is currently published online 3-4 times annually, depending on newsworthy events.
With the Spring 2009 issue, ARCUS changed the format of Witness the Arctic. To provide more frequent updates and reduce printing and mailing costs and associated environmental impacts, the newsletter is now distributed online in three or four shorter issues per year, depending on newsworthy events.
The Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) Sea Ice Outlook (SIO), which provides an integrated, community-wide summary of projections of the annual arctic sea ice minimum, has launched activities for the 2009 season. Contributions are currently being accepted, and the first monthly report will be released in early June, with subsequent reports each month through September 2009.
The SIO effort, which began in 2008 in response to the drastic and unexpected record sea ice minimum of 2007, provides a means to synthesize and communicate community outlooks for the annual sea ice minimum. The SIO is based on an open and inclusive process—more than 20 research groups contributed in 2008—by providing information on current and expected states of the arctic sea ice. A 2008 retrospective report concluded that the SIO showed good agreement between outlook projections and observations, served as a successful forum and model for community synthesis, and was an important initial step toward better understanding arctic sea ice loss. A central lesson learned from the 2008 SIO was that the condition of sea ice in late spring was a major driver of the 2008 sea ice minimum.
A workshop to further evaluate the SIO effort and plan for the upcoming season was recently held in Boulder, Colorado. Participants at this March 2009 meeting discussed lessons learned from 2008 and made several recommendations for improvements to the 2009 Outlook. The presentations from this workshop are available on the meeting website. The resulting workshop report, which will be circulated as a draft for community and public input, includes recommendations for the 2009 Outlook on scientific goals, content, and format and will be available as a PDF file on the SIO website in June 2009.
For more information or to contribute to the SIO, go to SIO website, or contact Helen Wiggins at ARCUS (helen [at] arcus [dot] org), James Overland at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (james [dot] e [dot] overland [at] noaa [dot] gov), or Hajo Eicken at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (hajo [dot] eicken [at] gi [dot] alaska [dot] edu).