Witness the Arctic

Volume 15
Number 1
10 February 2011

Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)

SEARCH at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting

SEARCH held several activities at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco, California. A Town Hall entitled "The Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH): Current Activities and Community Input on Future Directions" was held to provide a forum for open exchange on SEARCH activities and future priorities. Specific topics included: the new SEARCH vision and mission and the Arctic Observing Network. Over 70 members of the arctic science community attended the Town Hall.

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Science Steering Committee Meeting Refines Future Directions for SEARCH

A SEARCH Science Steering Committee (SSC) meeting was held 17-19 November 2010 in Washington, D.C. The major items on the agenda were development of updated SEARCH vision and mission statements and five-year goals, and improved interagency implementation of SEARCH. The draft vision and mission statement, developed at the meeting to guide future SEARCH directions and specific activities, will be released in spring of 2011.

More information on the November SSC meeting can be found at: http://www.arcus.org/search/meetings/2010/ssc-november.

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State of the Arctic Conference Resolution Released

The final Conference Resolution from the State of the Arctic Conference has been released and is available online.

The State of the Arctic Conference, held March 2010 with 448 participants from 16 countries, including representatives of Indigenous Peoples' organizations, featured over 400 keynote addresses, scientific talks, and poster presentations. The resolution summarizes the four recommendations that emerged from the conference:

  1. Develop responses to arctic change and advance solution-driven science.

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Capitol Updates

America COMPETES Act Reauthorized

On 4 January 2011 President Obama signed into law the America COMPETES Act, reauthorized by Congress on 21 December 2010. The Act focuses on three main areas: (1) Increasing science and research investments; (2) Strengthening science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; and (3) Developing a national infrastructure for innovation. America COMPETES provides a three-year reauthorization for increased investment in the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Although continued full

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Temporary Funding Levels Extended for FY2011

On 21 December 2010, Congress approved House Resolution (H.R.) 3082, which extended fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) appropriations through 4 March 2011. This temporary spending bill, also referred to as a Continuing Resolution (CR), freezes discretionary appropriations for FY2011 at FY2010 spending levels. If Congress does not pass FY2011 regular appropriations acts before the 4 March expiration, they may extend FY2010 spending levels through another interim CR. The fiscal year runs from 1 October through 30 September.

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A Note From the ARCUS Executive Director

Jonathan Pundsack Joins ARCUS Staff

ARCUS is pleased to announce the appointment of Jonathan W. Pundsack as Program Manager, effective 1 January 2011. In this position he will assume responsibility for ARCUS projects and activities, primarily within the Arctic Science System Program (ARCSS), and for support for the Arctic Observing Network (AON) project within the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) program.

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Interagency News

Lessons for Potential Oil Spill Response in the Arctic

Immediately following the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, scientific expertise was needed in the emergency response and impact assessment efforts. These efforts included the tracking of ship and personnel assets; tracking surface oil, tar balls, and an underwater oil plume in four dimensions; measuring rates of oxygen consumption by microbial decomposition of oil and methane; assessing the damage to coastlines, fish stocks, and fish larvae; and tracking the effects of the oil spill on seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals. The science community responded quickly

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National Oil Spill Commission’s Findings, Recommendations, and Implications for the Arctic

The Presidentially appointed Oil Spill Commission released "Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling" on 11 January 2011. The report, issued after six months of investigations and public hearings, addresses the causes and consequences of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and proposes reforms to reduce the risk of future large-scale spills.

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International News

International Ice Chart Working Group Warns of Continued Navigation Hazards in Polar Seas

The International Ice Chart Working Group (IICWG) held its 11th annual meeting 18-22 October 2010 in Washington, D.C. Established in 1999, IICWG promotes cooperation between the international ice services charged with monitoring sea ice and icebergs for maritime safety and brings together the operational ice services of Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, the United States, and the International Ice Patrol. Seventy-one representatives of ice service organizations from nine arctic nations attended the October meeting, which was hosted

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International Study of Arctic Change (ISAC) Science Plan Published

The International Study of Arctic Change (ISAC) Science Steering Group has released the ISAC Science Plan. This plan was developed after broad community input and outlines an international research program on arctic environmental change.

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National Science Foundation News

New Faces in Arctic Sciences Division at NSF

Dr. Brendan P. Kelly was appointed to the new position of Deputy Director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Arctic Sciences (ARC). Dr. Kelly came to NSF from NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory where he led investigations regarding the impact of sea-ice loss on arctic seal populations. As Division Deputy Director, Dr. Kelly will represent the Director of NSF as Chair of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) and work closely with the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House (See Witness Fall 2010).

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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

Editors: Betsy Turner-Bogren, Kristina Creek, Helen Wiggins

Contributors: P. Clemente-Colon, H. Eiken, S. E. Fox, B. P. Kelly, P. A. McGillivary, M. Murray, P. West, H. Wiggins

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.