Update from the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC)
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 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and NSF are completing production of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) 5-Year Arctic Research Plan. Although details about the Plan have not been released yet, a draft version released for public comment in June 2012 (http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/arctic/iarpc/arc_res_plan_index.jsp) identified seven key research areas that would benefit from coordination and collaboration—not only among Federal agencies but also with state and local stakeholders, industry, academia, and non-governmental organizations. The seven research areas identified in that draft Plan were:
- Sea ice and marine ecosystem studies
- Terrestrial ice and ecosystem studies
- Atmospheric studies of surface heat, energy, and mass balances
- Observing systems
- Regional climate models
- Adaptation tools for sustaining communities
- Human health studies
Within each area research goals and milestones were identified which, when implemented, would lead to improved coordination of Federally-funded research in the Arctic. The draft Plan did not attempt to coordinate all Federal research in the area or even identify all Federally-funded research relevant to the Arctic. Rather, it focused on research that could gain the most in terms of efficiency and productivity if coordination among Federal agencies in those areas were enhanced. For example, several agencies are undertaking or are planning research activities in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas over the next decade. Communicating these activities and plans with one another and state and local stakeholders could improve coordination, reduce duplication of effort, and improve efficiency.
There is broad scientific consensus that rapid changes in global climate are altering ice and snow cover and affecting arctic ecosystems, indigenous societies, and natural resource development. Research is needed to increase fundamental understanding of these challenges and opportunities and to inform development of sound, science-based management decisions. The draft IARPC 5-year plan represented a focused attempt to address these challenges, and release of the final report is expected to inform a number of important pending policy decisions.
Notification of the Plan's release will be made over the ArcticInfo mailing list (http://www.arcus.org/arctic-info).
For further information, please see NSF's IARPC website: http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/arctic/iarpc/start.jsp or contact Brendan P. Kelly (Brendan_P_Kelly [at] ostp [dot] eop [dot] gov).