The Age of the Arctic
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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.
Last month, ARCUS held its annual membership meeting in Washington DC, along with a face-to-face Board meeting and retreat, all in conjunction with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Science Policy Conference 2012. AGU very generously encouraged us to include the Arctic Forum in that venue, with an emphasis on emerging arctic policy. Our interest and involvement in policy recognizes the changing Arctic, which produces multiple needs and challenges. Since our members for the most part are academic institutions, our focus is primarily on the scientific information needed to inform strategy and policy.
Increasing activity, plans for oil and mineral extraction, increased marine transportation, and the emergence of an ever-growing international arena are all factors raising multiple issues of safety, sovereignty, and impacts on coastal communities. Only one aspect, military presence in the support of U.S. arctic research, has decreased since I started looking at arctic policy in the 1980s. In the present environment it is critical that policy decisions be made using the best possible scientific information; this creates an expanded need for research and effective communication of the results. Furthermore, this information must be available freely with no restrictions. This is not only needed for decisions on various issues, but is needed for the scientific work itself. Science is an iterative process. It builds on the existing state of knowledge and increases and refines it as new information emerges. Therefore, access and discussion is absolutely essential to scientific progress. ARCUS, as an academic research-based organization, has a large role and responsibility in this regard.
— Vera Alexander
President, ARCUS Board of Directors