Witness the Arctic

Volume 13
Number 3
09 October 2009

Interagency News

USFWS Plans for Studies of Wildlife in Changing Arctic

In August 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released a report identifying the priority research, modeling, and synthesis activities needed to predict climate-related impacts to fish and wildlife populations in the U.S. Arctic. The report builds on the findings from a November 2008 USFWS workshop, Wildlife Response to Environmental Arctic Change: Predicting Future Habitats of Arctic Alaska, held in Fairbanks, Alaska.

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Science News

Unusual Fauna Found on Ancient Underwater Landslide

The Storegga slide off the middle coast of Norway is one of the world's largest known underwater landslides. Discovered in the 1960s by Norwegian geologists, the slide occurred more than 8,100 years ago when an area of land approximately the size of Denmark slumped into the Norwegian Sea, triggering a very large tsunami. The Storegga slide was last in a series of huge underwater slides in this region during the past million years. The northern flank of the Storegga slide area (64°45'N, 5°E), which was fully surveyed by Statoil in 2004 using remotely operated vehicles, is known as Nyegga, or

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Arctic Natural Sciences Program

Edmonds Joins OPP as New Arctic Natural Sciences Program Director

Henrietta (Hedy) Edmonds joined the Office of Polar Programs in April 2009 as the Arctic Natural Sciences program director, replacing Jane Dionne, who retired in 2008. Edmonds' appointment is a permanent staff position. In addition to working with Bill Wiseman on the diverse Arctic Natural Sciences program, Edmonds will also manage the Postdoctoral Fellowships in Polar Regions Research.

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Study Reveals How Glacial Lakes Influence Ice Sheet Flow

Along its western margin, the Greenland Ice Sheet flows seaward at speeds of roughly 100 m/yr. Embedded within the ice sheet are faster flowing (200–15,000 m/yr) outlet glaciers that discharge ice directly to the ocean. Each summer the ice sheet surface melts at rates that can exceed 2.5 m/yr. When glacial mass balance is negative, the excess ice and water lost to the ocean contributes to sea level rise. Recent changes—in particular, increased rates of speed (50–100%) for many large outlet glaciers—have amplified Greenland's contribution to sea-level rise from near zero in the 1990s to a

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Project Investigates Fire Behavior of the Past and Future

Over the past 40 years, fire activity in the boreal forests of North America has increased dramatically, and this increase can be attributed primarily to anthropogenic climatic change; the annual area burned increased from an average of ~12,000 km2 per year in the 1960s to ~30,000 km2 per year in the 1990s. Such short-term historic observations, however, do not capture the full spectrum of boreal fire responses to climate change, and predictive models based on historic observations may be constrained by assumptions derived from climate-fire relationships over the observational record. Holocene

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Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)

2009 Arctic Observing Network Awards

Note that awards listed under the categories of atmosphere, ocean and sea ice, hydrology/cryosphere, terrestrial ecosystems, and data and information management are continuing projects.

New Projects

An Interdisciplinary Monitoring Mooring in the Western Arctic Boundary Current: Climatic Forcing and Ecosystem Response.

Robert Pickart (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution [WHOI]. #0856244, $2,317,495.

Kathleen Stafford (University of Washington [UW]). #0855828, $271,917.

Jeremy Mathis (University of Alaska Fairbanks [UAF]). #0856210, $195,417.

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NSF Awards $35 Million in AON Projects

In July 2008, NSF released a solicitation for the Arctic Observing Network (AON). Proposals were due 30 September 2008, and the agency anticipated making 15-20 awards totaling $18-24 million over 3-5 years. NSF received 57 proposals requesting $69 million for 36 projects. In June 2009, NSF announced funding totaling $35 million for 20 AON projects. Nine awards fund five projects that have not previously received AON Program funds, and 23 awards support the continuation of 15 existing AON projects. The current Arctic Research Opportunities solicitation invites AON proposals (www.nsf.gov/funding

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State of the Arctic Conference

State of the Arctic Conference Set for March 2010

Planning continues for the State of the Arctic Conference, which will be held 16–19 March 2010 at the Hyatt Regency Miami in Miami, Florida. The main goal of the conference is to review our understanding of the arctic system in a time of rapid environmental change. It will provide an open international forum for discussion of future research directions aimed toward a better understanding of the arctic system and its trajectory. Topics will range from basic understanding of the Arctic and system-wide change to developing response strategies to adapt and mitigate change.

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Arctic System Science Program

2009 ARCSS Projects Funded through Arctic Research Opportunities Solicitation

Awards were recently announced for ARCSS research funded through the Arctic Research Opportunities solicitation. A total of 19 awards were made totaling $5.6 million—all of the funds for these awards were provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Analysis and Attribution of Changes in Siberian Hydroclimate and Implications for the Future.

Judah Cohen (Atmospheric and Environmental Research Inc). #0909457, $180,389.

Jessica Cherry, Vladimir Alexeev (University of Alaska Fairbanks [UAF]). #0909525, $283,374.

Mathew Barlow (University of Massachusetts

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ARCSS Announces Awards for Seasonality Research

Awards were announced in July and August 2009 for the Arctic System Science (ARCSS) Program's most recent solicitation, Changing Seasonality in the Arctic System (CSAS). NSF received 71 individual proposals in response to the solicitation, representing approximately $30 million in requested funding—40 awards totaling $14.3 million were made. More than 85% of the funding for the 17 projects was provided through funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Information on these projects is listed below.

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Arctic Social Sciences Program

Study Explores Inuit Hunting and Economic Strategies

The subsistence practices of arctic peoples have long occupied the attention of social scientists working in the north. Research over the past four decades has established the continued importance of subsistence hunting to both the economies of northern communities and the maintenance of Inuit identity at a time of rapid social change. Generally speaking, this research has documented that subsistence hunting continues to be an important source of food for Inuit, but hunting from a modern settlement requires access to a variety of resources. Hunters require money, obtained through wage labor

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Polar Research Board

PRB Study Leads to Release of Arctic Sea Ice Imagery

In July 2009, the Polar Research Board (PRB) issued a report, Scientific Value of Arctic Sea Ice Imagery Derived Products, recommending the release of a suite of arctic sea ice images collected by U.S. government intelligence sources. The PRB report committee determined that the images could help scientists examine the effects of climate change and the impacts of diminishing sea ice and lead to significant improvements in the development of climate models. Shortly after the report was released, the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Civil Applications Program launched a website to disseminate a

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Feature Article

Coincidence and Contradiction in the Warming Boreal Forest

By Glenn Patrick Juday

This is the second article in an occasional series by authors invited to trace how their personal thinking about their research has changed over time.

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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.

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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. ARCUS also receives sponsorship for State of the Arctic activities from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Arctic Research Commission.

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.

Editors: Sarah Behr and Alison York

Contributors: L. Brown, P. Collngs, R. Crain, J. Crowe, S. Das, H. Edmonds, C. Elfring, S. Fox, P. Higuera, M. Hovland, F.S. Hu, I. Joughin, G.P. Juday, A. Kerttula, P. Martin, C. Sterne, N. Swanberg, T. Swem, H. Wiggins, W. Wiseman.