Arctic System Science (ARCSS) Committee Meeting

Saturday, 30 September 2000 to Sunday, 1 October 2000

Summary of Meeting Results

Following the September 28-29 ARCSS Summit, which focused primarily on ARCSS science management issues, the ARCSS Committee held a hands-on meeting to begin planning for a second ARCSS All-Investigators' (All-Hands) Workshop. The tentative date for this ARCSS All-Investigators' (All-Hands) Workshop is February 2002.

The first All-Hands meeting in 1996 resulted in Toward an Arctic System Synthesis (the meeting's proceedings) and Toward Prediction of the Arctic System (the updated ARCSS plan; both published by ARCUS, 1998). The principal goals of the second All-Hands meeting will be to develop an integrated progress report on the state of the program in terms of:

  • PROGRESS: the ARCSS program's accomplishments (What progress has been made in answering ARCSS research questions? Which issues, in light of new information, are more important or no longer as important as we once thought?)
  • GAPS: the important questions not currently being addressed in ARCSS (What steps critical to making progress with a particular question are not being taken? Are investigators facing intractable research problems, or are the issues insufficiently mature for focused research efforts or developed enough for integration to be useful?)
  • NEW QUESTIONS: emerging research issues in ARCSS (What new questions are raised by the progress we’ve made? These new questions may arise from surprises–new issues that cause changes in research direction– or from changing priorities)

The objective of the 2000 AC meeting was to develop a process to guide such an assessment and outline the ways in which this assessment process could form the framework for the All-Hands meeting. It was immediately clear that the assessment process needs to occur at a more “grassroots” level (i.e., at the level of the PIs, SMOs, SSCs, and SPOs) but be directed by a “whole-ARCSS” perspective.

The AC started discussions with the five ARCSS themes, which form the basis of the 1998 ARCSS plan, and modified them as follows:

  1. How will the climate of the Arctic change over the next 10 to 100 years? To highlight our interest in understanding the process of climate change in the Arctic, we propose to add the following sub-question:
  • "How do natural and human-induced sources of climate variability interact to produce regional climate changes in the Arctic and sub-Arctic?"
  1. How will future climate change interact with human activities to affect the sustainability of natural ecosystems and human societies? We propose that the "Human Interactions" theme should pay special attention to human adaptations, including policy responses.

  2. How will changes in arctic biogeochemical cycles and feedbacks affect arctic and global systems?

  3. How will changes in arctic hydrologic cycles and feedbacks affect arctic and global systems? We may propose, if it helps integration, grouping themes 3 and 4 together under “Arctic Feedbacks”.

  4. Are predicted changes in the arctic system detectable? We propose that, “Are predicted changes in the arctic system detectable?” be treated as a cross-cutting theme. Rather than diminishing its importance by this approach, we want to underscore the importance of having an observation system in place to detect changes in all components of the arctic system.

What does organizing the All-Hands meeting around themes mean in practice?

We're proposing that we hold concurrent sessions, with one session per theme (for example, using the current proposed themes):

  • Arctic Climate Change (theme 1)
  • Human Interactions (theme 2)
  • Arctic Feedbacks (themes 3 and 4 together)

In addition to these sessions focused on a single theme, the meeting structure should allow opportunities for integration among as well as within themes.

We expect the plans for the meeting to evolve on the basis of community forum prior to the All-Hands meeting. In fact, we are relying on community input to develop idea maps to guide the meeting sessions.

What are the intended products of each thematic session?

  1. A progress report on:
  • Data collection (by spatial and temporal scale)
  • Synthesis of data
  • Analysis of relationships
  • Modeling and simulations
  1. Identification of gaps

  2. Identification of new questions

“Idea maps”

To be able to produce these progress reports at each thematic session, a good deal of homework needs to be done ahead of time to assess progress and identify gaps, integration opportunities, and new questions. We need to see the links between the ARCSS themes, ARCSS components (e.g., LAII, OAII, PARCS), ARCSS projects (SHEBA, SBI, ATLAS, RAISE, SEARCH, ITEX), ARCSS grants, and other major research efforts (e.g., international). We think we can best visualize these links by developing an "idea map" for each ARCSS theme. We propose that, in collaboration with the AC, the ARCSS Science Management Offices (OAII, LAII, PARCS) and Science Project Offices (SHEBA, SBI, ATLAS, RAISE, SEARCH, ITEX) develop and link idea maps for their area of effort to the ARCSS thematic maps.

We would like the idea maps to:

  • Highlight relationships
  • Foster integration across disciplines
  • Use progressive layers of detail
  • Link ARCSS themes ultimately to grants (through SSCs and projects)

The final form of the idea maps will almost certainly evolve as they are filled in. At this point, each of the ARCSS thematic level idea maps would start with the same building blocks.

  • Land/Atmosphere/Ocean/Human/Global
  • Arctic Feedbacks Idea Map
  • Human Interactions Idea Map
  • Arctic Climate Idea Map

Before each of the ARCSS components’ next meetings (see below), the AC will work with SMOs, SSCs, and SPOs to prepare drafts of:

  • Idea maps for their area of effort, with appropriate links to the larger ARCSS theme idea maps
  • Status reports (see examples linked to Arctic Feedbacks Idea Map)
  • Links to grants (see Arctic Feedback examples)

These drafts will be reviewed & revised at these meetings:

  • LAII – Feb. 2001
  • SBI – Feb. 2001
  • PARCS – March 2001
  • AC meeting – April 2001
  • OAII – fall 2001

The development of these idea maps and status reports at the ARCSS "grass roots" before the All-Hands meeting should accelerate our ability, at the meeting itself, to:

  • integrate and synthesize new results,
  • identify unaddressed questions and develop strategies for tackling them, and
  • articulate emerging research opportunities.