Witness the Arctic

Volume 16
Number 1
28 February 2012

Science Policy News

Public Comment Period Extended for Draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan

The National Ocean Council has extended the public comment period on the draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan through 28 March 2012. This extension will provide stakeholders, users, and the public additional time to provide input to inform development of the final Implementation Plan.

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Capitol Updates

Update on Funding for NSF’s Office of Polar Programs and Arctic Sciences Division

On 18 November 2011 the President signed into law the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012. Division B of the Act provides funding for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for fiscal year (FY) 2012, which began 1 October 2011. Although final agency budget reports are not yet available, the estimated National Science Foundation (NSF) funding level is $7 billion, which is an increase of $173 million (2.5%) from the FY 2011 enacted level. The estimated FY 2012 budget for the Office of Polar Programs (OPP) is $435.87 million. The estimated allocation for the

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Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)

In Remembrance of Dr. Deanna Kingston

Dr. Deanna Paniataaq Kingston, professor of anthropology at Oregon State University (OSU) and prominent arctic social scientist, died 2 December 2011 at the age of 47. A native Inupiat from King Island, Alaska, Dr. Kingston was a pioneer in exploring the intersections of native traditional knowledge and western science.

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SEARCH Meeting Advances New SEARCH Goals and Implementation Strategy

The SEARCH Science Steering Committee (SSC) and representatives from several government agencies met 13-15 February 2012 in Washington, D.C. Over the last several months, the SEARCH SSC has developed a new SEARCH vision statement and draft 5-year science goals with input from SEARCH panels and agency representatives. The goal of the SEARCH meeting in February was for the SSC and agencies to further refine the 5-year science goals and develop a plan of action.

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Arctic Natural Sciences Program

Planning Underway for U.S. Arctic GEOTRACES Initiative

The U.S. GEOTRACES Science Steering Committee (SSC) has launched a planning effort for a U.S. Arctic GEOTRACES initiative to help characterize and understand regional biogeochemical changes associated with rapid climate change. The initiative includes a cruise, which is tentatively planned for 2015. The SSC has scheduled several informational meetings to update the community on the planning process and solicit input from attendees.

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U.S. Arctic Research Commission

U.S. Arctic Research Commission Releases 2011-2012 Goals Report

The U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) recently released the "USARC Report on the Goals and Objectives for Arctic Research 2011-2012." This biennial report recommends key goals and objectives to the President and to Congress. The report lists five broad priority research goals:

1. Observe, understand, and respond to environmental change in the Arctic, Arctic Ocean, and Bering Sea;
2. Improve arctic human health;
3. Assess natural resources;
4. Advance civil infrastructure research; and
5. Assess indigenous languages, identities, and cultural research needs.

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Interagency News

NOAA Releases 2011 Arctic Report Card

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released the 2011 Arctic Report Card. The report reflects the published and ongoing work of an international team of researchers and includes a range of arctic environmental observations. The report is organized around five chapters, which discuss changes observed in the atmosphere, sea ice and ocean, marine ecosystems, terrestrial ecosystems, and hydrology and terrestrial cryosphere.

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Pew Report Recommends More Science in U.S. Arctic Ocean

The Pew Environment Group and Ocean Conservancy have released a white paper recommending further research to inform conservation and development decisions in America's Arctic Ocean. The white paper, authored by 14 arctic marine ecosystem scientists, evaluates the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Circular 1370, which summarizes gaps in Arctic Ocean research. The white paper is divided into two main parts. The first part assesses the adequacy of the USGS report and deems it to have identified major gaps in scientific knowledge in an unbiased manner. The second part of the white paper emphasizes

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Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee Developing Five-Year Arctic Research Plan

The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) Principal Members met twice in 2011 to address an agenda that includes developing a five-year arctic research plan that will help federal agencies in implementing their arctic research programs. At their April meeting, Principal Members approved an outline for the research plan focusing on topics that will particularly benefit from multiagency collaboration. A draft of that plan was reviewed at the second Principal Members meeting in November 2011. During the following months, the IARPC staff, which includes staff members from ten

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National Science Foundation News

NSF Arctic Sciences Division Town Hall Meetings at AGU

The National Science Foundation Division of Arctic Sciences held two Town Halls on 7 December 2011 during the American Geophysical Union (AGU) fall meetings in San Francisco. The Town Hall meetings provided a forum for open exchange on NSF activities and directions. Nearly 100 people participated in these meetings.

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Staffing Changes in the Office of Polar Programs and Arctic Sciences Division

Dr. Kelly Falkner will serve as Acting Head for NSF's Office of Polar Programs (OPP) effective 1 April 2012 subsequent to the retirement of Dr. Karl A. Erb. Prior to joining NSF as Deputy Head of OPP on 3 January 2011, Falkner was a professor in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. From 2007 to 2009 she served at NSF as the founding program director of the Antarctic Integrated System Science program in OPP. Falkner holds a PhD in Chemical Oceanography.

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Office of Polar Programs Director Karl A. Erb to Retire

Dr. Karl A. Erb will retire from government service in April 2012 concluding over 13 years as Director of the Office of Polar Programs (OPP). Dr. Erb is widely recognized for his contributions to the international polar research community and for his leadership in the construction and operation of National Science Foundation (NSF) research facilities in the Arctic and Antarctic, which provide state-of-the-art capabilities to the frontiers of polar science and engineering.

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Accelerated Spending Requirements for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Funded Projects

The Division of Institution and Award Support in NSF’s Policy Office has issued a notice of intent to limit the expenditure period for cooperative agreements funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to ensure project completion by 30 September 2013. This notice applies to all NSF awardees with active agreements that have been supported in whole or in part with ARRA funds.

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A Note From the ARCUS Executive Director

Arctic Forum Planned for May 2012

The Arctic Forum 2012 and the 24th ARCUS Annual Meeting will convene 1-2 May 2012 in Washington, D.C. The Arctic Forum will take place on Tuesday, 1 May at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. It is being held as part of a larger Science Policy Conference hosted by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), aimed at natural and social scientists and decision makers. The Forum will focus on science that helps inform stakeholders' decision-making processes. Assessing gaps and priority needs for arctic scientific information, the Forum will address three themes:

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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: R. Crain, H. Eicken, M. Engel, K. Erb, J. Farrell, S. Fox, H. Huntington, D. Kadko, B.P. Kelly, E. Key, J. Osborne-Gowey, S. Stephenson, K. Sloane, B. Turner-Bogren, H. Wiggins, W. Wiseman

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.