ARCUS was formed in 1988 to serve as a forum for planning, facilitating, coordinating, and implementing interdisciplinary studies of the Arctic. As part of this mission, ARCUS acts as a liaison between the arctic research community, agencies, national organizations, and policy makers through activities such as monitoring relevant legislation, providing science policy information to the research community, and responding to inquiries by agency and congressional staff concerning arctic science.

May 2008

Socioeconomic Tipping Points: Policy Implications of Arctic Climate Change

13 May 2008
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation Hearing Room
253 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC

Recent media, policy, and public attention have focused on the potential impacts of climate change in the Arctic and around the globe. The increasing pace and scale of observed environmental changes may represent "tipping points"—new, unknown, and potentially irreversible vanguards of arctic and global change. As we enter into the final stages of the International Polar Year 2007–2008 (IPY), the scientific and policy communities are presented with an unprecedented opportunity to build on the wealth of data collected in the IPY to produce transformative advances in our understanding of climate change and to formulate appropriate policy and scientific responses—thus ensuring a successful national IPY legacy that addresses critical stakeholder issues.

This briefing assisted Congress in understanding the current state of scientific research on climate change and tipping points, with the intent to provide a basis for navigating research findings and media headlines to inform decision-making and policy. Leading scientists discussed climate change implications such as infrastructure damage, food security, transportation, coastal erosion, national security, and the economic benefits of mitigating change.

Joshua Schimel, from the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California Santa Barbara, moderated the briefing, which featured:

  • Martin Miles, from the Environmental Systems Analysis Research Center, speaking on changes in arctic sea ice and probable trajectories
  • Maribeth Murray, from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, speaking on the human dimensions of arctic change
  • Craig Fleener, from the Gwich'in Council International, speaking about opportunities and costs to local communities

2008 Congressional Briefing Flyer (PDF - 80 KB)

2008 Congressional Briefing Attendees (PDF - 198 KB)

May 2007

Congressional Briefing on Observing, Understanding, and Responding to Arctic Change

22 May 2007
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation Hearing Room
253 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.

Arctic researchers Donald Perovich, Mark Serreze, Andrea Lloyd, and Maribeth Murray presented information on observed changes that are ongoing in the Arctic, as well as scientific advances that help us understand and respond to those changes. The briefing included discussion of practical challenges, opportunities, and policy implications associated with climate change, including coastal erosion, infrastructure damage, and social issues such as transportation and subsistence.

2007 Congressional Briefing Flyer (PDF - 114 KB)

2007 Congressional Briefing Attendees (PDF - 218 KB)

May 2006

Senator Lisa Murkowski at the 2006 Arctic Forum

Senator Murkowski Delivers Concluding Keynote at Arctic Forum

26 May 2006
National Home Builders Association
Washington, DC

The concluding keynote at the 2006 Arctic Forum was delivered by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The keynote was titled Advancing Arctic Research Through Policy and Science Advocacy. A transcript has been made available below.

Senator Murkowski - Speech Transcript (PDF - 15 KB)

May 2006

A Congressional Science Briefing on Recent Scientific Findings of Arctic Environmental Change

23 May 2006
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC

Arctic researchers Joshua Schimel, Mark Serreze, Matthew Sturm, and Charles Vörösmarty presented information on recent and significant arctic environmental changes in temperature, sea ice, permafrost, tundra, and the freshwater cycle. This briefing, jointly organized between ARCUS and Senator Lisa Murkowski's office, was held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building and drew a large audience of congressional staff. Download PDFs of the briefing presentation and flyer below.

2006 Congressional Briefing Flyer (PDF - 79 KB)

2006 ARCSS Congressional Briefing Presentation (PDF - 2.1 MB)