Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) Progress and Activities
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.
SEARCH Goals and Implementation
The SEARCH Science Steering Committee (SSC) made significant progress over the past few months in moving SEARCH towards full implementation (see Spring 2012 Witness the Arctic article). The SEARCH SSC revised the five-year science goals and objectives to incorporate input from the broader scientific community. The revised goals are available through the SEARCH website:
- Improve Understanding, Advance Prediction, and Explore Consequences of Changing Arctic Sea Ice
- Document and Understand How Degradation of Near-Surface Permafrost Will Affect Arctic and Global Systems
- Improve Predictions of Future Land-ice Loss and Impacts on Sea Level
- Analyze Societal and Policy Implications of Arctic Environmental Change
The SSC has developed a plan for a suite of activities to support the five-year goals, cross-cutting synthesis, and the Arctic Observing Network. The SSC will submit a proposal to NSF and other agencies in support of a new SEARCH organizational structure to implement these activities.
SEARCH at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) 2012 Fall Meeting
A Town Hall meeting, "SEARCH: Current Activities and Future Directions," is scheduled at the AGU fall meeting on Monday, 3 December from 6:15-7:15 p.m. Pacific Standard Time in Moscone West, Room 2010. Refreshments will be served. Discussion topics will include:
- Recommendations for the Arctic Observing Network (AON), including a report for AON Design and Implementation (see: http://www.arcus.org/search/aon/adi);
- SEARCH five-year goals (see: http://www.arcus.org/search/goals); and
- Development of a new SEARCH implementation strategy.
Members of the arctic science, education, and policy communities are invited to attend, and young investigators are particularly encouraged to participate.
In addition to the Town Hall, a SEARCH poster presentation will take place Monday, 3 December from 8:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. in Moscone South, Hall A-C in the session "Climate Change Science for Sustainability Planning" (Session GC11B-0999), offering an opportunity to discuss the program.
Arctic Observing Network (AON) Design and Implementation
The AON Design and Implementation (ADI) effort has provided guidance to the National Science Foundation (NSF), the scientific community, and others engaged in arctic environmental observations on how to achieve a well-designed, effective, and robust arctic observing system.
ADI activities are overseen by an ADI Task Force and have included a combination of virtual and in-person meetings and a community survey. The Task Force has released its final report, "Designing, Optimizing, and Implementing an Arctic Observing Network (AON)." The report includes the following:
- An assessment of the present state and near-term implementation plans of the AON and related efforts;
- A synthesis of lessons learned from other observing systems;
- A discussion of promising approaches and options for system design and optimization; and
- ADI Task Force findings and recommendations.
The report is available online at: http://www.arcus.org/search/aon/adi. Requests for hardcopies can be sent to Helen Wiggins at helen [at] arcus [dot] org.
Sea Ice Outlook and Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook
The 2012 arctic sea ice minimum, at 3.41 million square kilometers, was the lowest extent in the satellite record since 1979—18% below 2007 and 49% below the 1979 to 2000 average. The arctic sea ice extent averaged for September 2012 was 3.61 million square kilometers (see the National Snow and Ice Data Center website for more details.
The 2012 Sea Ice Outlook provided insight into the sea ice conditions and methods of sea ice prediction. A post-season analysis that examines the causes of this summer's sea ice minimum and the success of the Outlook projections will be available soon through the Sea Ice Outlook website.
In addition, a multi-disciplinary group of Sea Ice Outlook organizers and participants submitted a collaborative proposal to build on current Outlook activities. If the proposal is successful, the Outlook will undergo significant expansion in the 2013 season.
The Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO), which provides weekly reports on sea ice conditions relevant to walrus in the Northern Bering Sea and southern Chukchi Sea regions of Alaska, ended its third season in June. Due to increasing demand of SIWO products, SIWO organizers are also developing a proposal to expand activities for next year.
For more information about the Sea Ice Outlook, go to: http://www.arcus.org/search/seaiceoutlook/index.php
For more information on the Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook, go to:
For more information on all SEARCH activities, please contact Helen Wiggins, ARCUS (SEARCH Project Office) at helen [at] arcus [dot] org, or Hajo Eicken (SEARCH SSC Chair) at: hajo [dot] eicken [at] gi [dot] alaska [dot] edu.