Witness the Arctic

Distribution Date: 8 November 2011

Volume 15, Number 3 - Fall 2011

Interagency Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)

Study of Environmental Arctic Change
The SEARCH Science Steering Committee (SSC) met in August 2011 in Denver, Colorado to continue its strategic planning activities. The SSC made significant progress on five-year priority science goals to guide future SEARCH activities.
Building on the Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (CADIS; http://www.aoncadis.org/ ), the NSF- funded Advanced CADIS (ACADIS) system is being developed to address the growing and increasingly diverse data management needs of the NSF arctic research community. In July 2011, NSF awarded a four-year continuing grant to the team of ACADIS investigators from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) , the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) , and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) . The new ACADIS system will foster scientific synthesis and...
Witness the Arctic (WTA) had the opportunity to talk with Mark Serreze of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC; http://nsidc.org/ ) and Jim Moore of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR; http://ncar.ucar.edu/ ) who lead the Advanced Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (ACADIS) team. We asked each of them a few questions about the new data management service. Here are excerpts from those conversations. (Further information about ACADIS is available in this issue of Witness .)

Arctic System Science Program

Changing Seasonality in the Arctic System
There now exists abundant evidence that pervasive changes are underway in the patterns of seasonality in the Arctic. Shifts in the timing, length, and pattern of individual seasonal events are occurring throughout the arctic system, including physical events (e.g., ocean and atmospheric circulation and fluxes, precipitation, sudden thaws, presence of ice and snow), biological events (e.g., plant phenology, animal life history events) and human activities (e.g., resource use, industrial activities).

Arctic Natural Sciences Program

Image courtesy: Daniel Montlucon, ETH Zurich.
Mobilization of carbon from permafrost soils and a reduction in sea-ice cover are two major manifestations of a warming Arctic. Both have the potential to perturb the Arctic Ocean carbon cycle, with attendant ramifications for the marine ecosystems and human populations that depend on them. Despite evidence that rapid changes are underway, our understanding of current biogeochemical processes within the central Arctic Ocean, and when and how they will respond in the future, remains limited. This lack of understanding hinders our ability to predict whether the Arctic will serve as a net carbon...

Arctic Social Sciences Program

Image Courtesy Language and Location: A Map Annotation Project.
The Arctic is home to over 40 indigenous languages from at least six unrelated language families: Uralic, Altaic, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Eskimo-Aleut, Dene-Yeniseian, Yukagir, and Nivkh. Rapid change in the Arctic has led to the endangerment or extinction of these indigenous languages and the relative geographic isolation of the Arctic makes it difficult to track the languages and their changes.

Arctic Research Support and Logistics

On 28 September 2011, NSF awarded CH2M HILL Constructors the Arctic Research Support and Logistics Contract to provide research support and logistics services for NSF-sponsored research in the Arctic. Since 1999, CH2M HILL has teamed with subcontractors Polar Field Services and SRI International to form CH2M HILL Polar Services (CPS). A new partner, UMIAQ, will join the CPS team for the contract period beginning in October 2011.

Science Policy News

In July 2010 the National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and the Great Lakes was established by President Obama through Executive Order to improve coordination of federal efforts and communication with state, local, and tribal governments in the management of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources. Also known as the National Ocean Policy (NOP), it provides stewardship principles to guide resource management and establishes a flexible framework for effective coastal and marine spatial planning. The NOP identifies nine priority objectives to address the most pressing...

Capitol Updates

The Obama Administration's fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget request, released on 14 February 2011, would provide $7.8 billion for NSF, an increase of 13% above the 2010 enacted level. This request includes $477.41 million for NSF's Office of Polar Programs and $112.94 million for the Arctic Sciences Division, 5.8% and 6.2% increases respectively over the level enacted for FY 2010. ( Note: a full-year continuing appropriations act, enacted on 15 April 2011, funded NSF at $6.8 billion for FY 2011, a 1.5% reduction from the FY 2010 enacted spending level. FY 2011 ended on 30 September 2011. )

U.S. Arctic Research Commission

In March 2011, I was appointed Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC), which is a great honor and an opportunity to help achieve the goals of the Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984—to advise both the President and Congress on national research policy and priorities for the Arctic. The Commission also offers recommendations to the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) and assists in developing agency plans to achieve improved arctic research programs. The Commission has identified five research goals, which are now evolving into a five-year Arctic Research...

Polar Research Board

Image courtesy: Frontiers in Understanding Climate Change and Polar Ecosystems
In May 2011, the Polar Research Board (PRB) of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences issued a workshop report that identifies a set of frontier research questions intended to help scientists better understand the impacts of climate change on polar ecosystems. The report, Frontiers in Understanding Climate Change and Polar Ecosystems , illustrates many of the observable impacts of climate change already occurring in the polar regions and builds on this knowledge to highlight the major topics in polar ecosystem science to be addressed in the coming decades.

International News

International Study of Arctic Change
ISAC, in partnership with SEARCH and supported by International Arctic Research Center UAF, held a meeting 30 May-1 June focused on international collaboration and cooperation in arctic environmental change programs.

A Note From the ARCUS Executive Director

In September 2011 Sarah Crowley joined the ARCUS staff as Education Project Manager. Sarah replaces Kristin Timm, who received a fellowship to pursue her graduate studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

About

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.

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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.

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If you have a question or an idea for a Witness article, contact Betsy Turner-Bogren at betsy [at] arcus [dot] org.

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Executive Director: Susan E. Fox

Editors: Betsy Turner-Bogren, Kristina Creek, Helen Wiggins

Contributors: H. Aristar-Dry, L. Brown, K. Creek, T. Eglinton, J. Farrell, S. Fox, J. Moore, M. Murrary, M. Serreze, B. Turner-Bogren, F. Ulmer, H. Wiggins

ARCUS is a nonprofit organization consisting of institutions organized and operated for educational, professional, or scientific purposes. Established by its member institutions in 1988 with the primary mission of strengthening arctic research, ARCUS activities are funded through cooperative agreements with NSF and the National Park Service, grants from NSF, a contract with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and membership dues.

Witness the Arctic is published periodically by ARCUS. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.