Witness the Arctic

Volume 13
Number 2
31 May 2009

University of Northern British Columbia: ARCUS Member Institution

UNBC Institutes Advance Priority Research Themes

            <p>UNBC has prioritized three interdisciplinary research themes that either relate to existing areas of research strength or to areas where the university foresees significant future potential and is seeking to build research capacity: natural resources and the environment; rural, remote, and northern health; and the sustainability of communities. Institutes that advance these themes at UNBC include:</p>

            <ul><li>The <a href="http://www.unbc.ca/nres-graduate-program" title="Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute" target="_blank">Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute</a> promotes integrative research addressing natural resource systems and human uses of the environment. Most researchers within the</li></ul>

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Geography Program

Housed within the College of Science and Management, the Geography Program (www.unbc.ca/geography/index.html) has ten faculty.

Gail Fondahl is involved in a project under the aegis of the Sustainable Development Working Group of the Arctic Council to develop and then test a set of social indicators for tracking human development in the Arctic. The Arctic Social Indicators (ASI) project, which is a follow-up to the 2004 Arctic Human Development Report and involves over two dozen collaborators, is led by Joan Nymand Larsen of the Stefansson Arctic Institute and Peter Schweitzer of the

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Environmental Science and Engineering Program

The Environmental Science and Engineering Program (www.unbc.ca/ensc/index.html) has 13 faculty members—their research interests range from large-scale global climate to regional environmental issues.

Stephen Déry leads the Northern Hydrometeorology Group (NHG), which, with funding primarily from the NSERC, investigates the role of climate variability and change on the high-latitude and alpine water cycle. Most group members are graduate students within the Environmental Science and Engineering Program or research staff.

In collaboration with Marc Stieglitz (Georgia Institute of Technology)

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Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management Program

The Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management Program (www.unbc.ca/ortm/) is within the College of Science and Management and has five faculty members.

Over the past four years, Pat Maher has established a diverse program of research on tourism in the polar regions. He recently worked with Parks Canada to study management issues associated with cruise ships in the national parks of Nunavut. The resulting technical report, Cruise Tourism in Auyuittuq, Sirmilik, and Quttinirpaaq National Parks, was published in 2008. Maher and colleagues from Vancouver Island University, Thompson Rivers

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Ecosystem Science and Management Program

The Ecosystem Science and Management Program (www.unbc.ca/esm/) houses 30 faculty with interests in all aspects of ecosystem function, from the cellular and molecular scale to the organismal and landscape scale, and the role of humans in modifying these ecosystems.

Paul Sanborn and master's student Lesley Dampier are working with the Yukon Geological Survey to explore the relationships between soil development and glacial history in the central Yukon Plateau, near Carmacks, a small community in Yukon Territory. The eastern edge of their study area was overridden several times by the

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Arctic Research at the University of Northern British Columbia

Established in 1994 with considerable public endorsement and enthusiasm, the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) has grown into one of Canada's premier small universities—just over 4,000 students attend the main campus in Prince George and four regional campuses throughout the province.

Today, UNBC offers 25 bachelor's programs, 14 master's programs, and 1 doctoral program in its two colleges—the College of Arts, Social, and Health Sciences and the College of Science and Management.

UNBC's internationally recognized academic and research programs prepare graduates in select

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A Note from the ARCUS President

New Executive Director Joins ARCUS

On behalf of the ARCUS Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce that Susan E. Fox became executive director of ARCUS in April 2009. Fox replaces Wendy K. Warnick who stepped down from the position after 17 years of service.

As a seasoned non-profit executive, Fox brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to ARCUS. Her experience includes a combined 15 years of service as executive director of the Society of American Archivists and the American Association of Law Libraries. In these positions, she worked with staff and the community to bring the organizations to a new level of

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International News

Denmark Assumes Chairmanship of Arctic Council

Denmark assumed chairmanship of the Arctic Council (AC) at the sixth Ministerial Meeting in Tromsø, Norway, in April 2009. More than 300 participants attended, including delegates from the eight arctic nations, observer states, and indigenous peoples' organizations.

Following on two years of Norwegian leadership, Denmark's program for 2009–2011 prioritizes peoples of the Arctic, the International Polar Year (IPY) legacy, climate change, biodiversity, megatrends in the Arctic, integrated resource management, operational cooperation, and the AC in a new geopolitical framework. Per Stig Møller

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ASSW 2009 Includes Open Science Symposium For the First Time

This year's Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) was held in March 2009 in Bergen, Norway, attended by more than 300 scientists, students, policy makers, and other professionals.

The purpose of the summit, which is organized by IASC and other scientific organizations, is to provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in all areas of arctic science and to combine science and management meetings. This event typically features annual meetings of arctic organizations and presentations on arctic research being undertaken by the host country. This year and

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IASC Merges with AOSB; Secretariat Moves to Potsdam

The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) is implementing several structural changes. The planned IASC merge with the Arctic Ocean Sciences Board (AOSB), combining the resources and scientific expertise of both organizations, was made official during Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) 2009 in Bergen, Norway.

Another change in structure—formation of Scientific Standing Committees and Action Groups as new core elements to advance IASC's mission—was presented during ASSW. Feedback received at the meeting and input from IASC member countries is currently being incorporated into the

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Capitol Updates

FY 2010 NSF Budget Proposal Tops $7 Billion

The Obama administration released details of its FY 2010 budget request in early May 2009. The proposed NSF budget is $7.045 billion, an increase of $555 million (8.5%) over the FY 2009 budget plan of $6.49 billion. NSF received an additional $3 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (commonly called the stimulus bill; see Witness Winter 2008/2009 and page 6); this one-time appropriation is not included in the following calculations or discussion.

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Science News

Workshop Report Outlines Gaps and Makes Recommendations for Monitoring Efforts in Arctic Seas

            <p>The Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) and the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) sponsored a workshop on marine research and monitoring efforts in the Arctic, particularly in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, as part of the January 2009 Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage, Alaska. </p>
            <p>The goal of the workshop, attended by 145 individuals from more than 60 organizations, was to share information and promote collaboration among the many entities with increasing activities in marine research and monitoring in the region, including the oil and gas industry, local, state, and</p>

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State of the Arctic Conference

State of the Arctic Conference Set for March 2010

Planning is underway for a large State of the Arctic Conference, which will be held 16–19 March 2010 in Miami, Florida. This open international forum will provide an opportunity to present, exchange, and discuss the latest knowledge on the state of the Arctic and future directions of arctic science and policy. Specifically, the conference will:

  • review the scientific understanding of the basic functioning of the arctic system, including human subsystems;
  • assess our capacity to observe and understand the system, especially in light of rapid system-scale changes in all subsystems;

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Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)

2009 SEARCH Sea Ice Outlook Effort Underway

The Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) Sea Ice Outlook (SIO), which provides an integrated, community-wide summary of projections of the annual arctic sea ice minimum, has launched activities for the 2009 season. Contributions are currently being accepted, and the first monthly report will be released in early June, with subsequent reports each month through September 2009.

This NSIDC image, derived from satellite passive microwave data, depicts the April 2009 average percentage of ice cover for areas that were more than 15% covered by ice.

More than 20 research groups, including scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), contributed to the 2008 Sea Ice Outlook (SIO) by providing information on current and expected states of

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Arctic System Science Program

Update on ARCSS Program Activities

The latest Arctic System Science (ARCSS) Program solicitation, Changing Seasonality in the Arctic System (CSAS), was released in June 2008. The proposal deadline was in October 2008. In response to the solicitation, NSF received 71 proposals representing approximately $30 million in requested funding. NSF anticipates making between 10 and 20 awards totaling $5 to $10 million. Awards are expected to be announced by July 2009.

The ARCSS Committee, which is appointed by ARCUS and offers a mechanism through which NSF can stay informed of community interests, is currently focusing on two main

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National Science Foundation News

NSF Stimulus Funding will Support ARRV Construction

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly known as the stimulus bill, includes $400 million for the NSF Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account. From this amount, NSF plans to direct more than $100 million to the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) to support construction of the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV), which was approved as a MREFC project in 2007. The final amount of the award is still to be determined.

The ARRV will be a 77 m (254 foot) ice-capable vessel designed to support a variety of research objectives in high latitudes

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Arctic Research Support and Logistics

CH2M HILL Polar Resources Readies for Busy Season of Research Support and Alternative Energy Development

CH2M HILL Polar Services (CPS), logistics provider to NSF's arctic research program, is busy supporting 2009 summer fieldwork. Projects on the CPS roster continue to be largely multi-institutional, international in scope, and focused on understanding the Arctic as a system. In addition to research support, CPS has several renewable energy projects planned for the 2009 summer; these projects continue work with NSF to reduce the impact of research on the fragile polar environment.

Approximately 135 research projects are currently slated to receive CPS services in the Arctic: 61 in Alaska, 56 in

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Feature Article

IPY Heightens Attention to Arctic Issues

By Mead Treadwell

Over the two-year official period of the fourth International Polar Year (IPY), from March 2007 to March 2009, scientists from more than 60 nations carried out over 160 IPY projects, supported by approximately $1.2 billion, mostly from national scientific agencies. Although its full scientific legacy will evolve over the coming years, it was clear as IPY came to its successful close in early 2009 that the program had made valuable progress toward the four major goals set by the International Council for Science (ICSU) IPY planning group in 2004:

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Witness News

Our New Format

Dear Subscribers,

ARCUS has changed the format of Witness the Arctic. To provide more frequent updates and reduce printing and mailing costs and associated environmental impacts, the newsletter will now be distributed online in three or four shorter issues per year, depending on newsworthy events. Subscribers will receive an e-mail when each issue has been released, with a link to the online content.

We hope you find the new format useful and welcome your feedback on the changes. For further information, or to submit suggestions, please contact me at ARCUS (york [at] arcus.org).

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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); starting in early 2009 the issues have been published online. Witness has over 8,700 subscribers.



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.


If you have a question or an idea for a Witness article, contact Betsy Turner-Bogren at betsy@arcus.org.

Witness Community Highlights

Witness Community Highlights is an online publication launched in May 2017 to complement the regular publications of Witness the Arctic. It was developed in response to community feedback identifying the need for a monthly publication to highlight 1–2 Arctic research efforts and other timely items of interest to our readers. Community Highlights is distributed monthly via our Witness the Arctic mailing list of over 8,700 subscribers.

Witness Community Highlights

  • Arctic Research Consortium of the United States
  • 3535 College Road
  • Suite 101
  • Fairbanks, AK 99709 USA
  • Phone: 907-474-1600
  • Fax: 907-474-1604
  • info [at] arcus.org
  • www.arcus.org

Executive Director: Susan E. Fox

ARCUS is a nonprofit organization consisting of institutions organized and operated for educational, professional, or scientific purposes. Established by its member institutions in 1988 with the primary mission of strengthening arctic research, ARCUS activities are funded through cooperative agreements with NSF and the National Park Service, grants from NSF, a contract with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and membership dues.

Witness the Arctic is published periodically by ARCUS. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF. Submit suggestions for the next issue of the newsletter by August 2009.

Editors: Sarah Behr and Alison York

Contributors: V. Alexander, J. Berkson, D. Coxson, T. Dahl, S. Dery, J. Farrell, S. Fox, S. Green, J. Hansen, E. Key, K. Lewis, L. Mack, M. McCammon, V. Rachold, K. Rithner, N. Swanberg, M. Tedesco, M. Treadwell, T. Whitledge, H. Wiggins