The rapid warming of the Arctic and melting of Arctic sea and land ice has ramifications around the globe. Shipping routes through an ice-free Arctic in combination with modifications to ocean circulation and regional climate patterns linked to Arctic ice melt affect trade, transportation, coastal ecology and hydrology, human-built infrastructure, demographics and cultural identities, fish and wildlife, energy resources, and air and water quality—not only in the Arctic but also in mid-latitude coastal regions such as New England. With profound changes on the horizon, now is a critical time to prepare for uncertain yet inevitable economic and environmental impacts of Arctic change on the eastern coast of North America.
The main goal of this project is to assess the socio-economic and environmental links between Arctic change and New England, identifying transformational convergence research initiatives to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to future impacts and opportunities. Events have been designed to develop strategies for conducting scientific research that will best inform decision-making and sustainable communities in anticipation of Arctic change. Particular emphasis is given to concerns unique to New England and its relationship with the Arctic. The anticipation is that identifying specific research problems ripe for convergent approaches will enable the development of innovations in observing systems and modeling efforts as well as strategies for engaging a range of communities and interest groups in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of future research initiatives.
This initiative began with a workshop in 2018 to assess the socio-economic and environmental links between Arctic change and New England, identifying transformational convergence research initiatives to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to future impacts and opportunities. Specific objectives included:
- Developing a vision for how Arctic change might impact New England over the next several decades (opportunity, risks, and hazards) and recommending future convergent research priorities linking Arctic change and New England;
- Establishing a regional network to encourage multi-institutional convergence research projects; and
- Identifying specific convergence research initiatives, core collaborative teams, topics for review papers, and follow-up plans in line with NSF Navigating the New Arctic (NNA).
Participants subsequently founded the New England Arctic Network (NEAN), a group dedicated to open collaboration and information-sharing through seminars, newsletters, workshops, working groups, and social media. By expanding research, scholarship, and training opportunities beyond individual institutions, NEAN strives to attract diverse and innovative leadership to promote the sustainable develop and resilience of communities both within the Arctic and globally. The network is open to all who are interested in Arctic change, and participation is encouraged through the website (nearctic.net).
Preparing for a Northwest Passage: A Workshop on the Role of New England in Navigating the New Arctic. This workshop, hosted by the University of New Hampshire in March 2018, gathered expertise and talent from academic and external partners throughout New England involved in Arctic research. Discussions focused on the role of New England researchers in combining tools, techniques, and ways of thinking from diverse fields into convergent problem-solving, including mechanisms for integrating scientific discourse with policy agendas and ongoing public dialogue.
Charting the Course for a New England Arctic Network. Based on recommendations from the March 2018 workshop, a follow-up event in October 2018 developed the foundation and vision for a New England Arctic Network (NEAN).
Convergence Research, North Atlantic Arctic, Regional Network