Witness the Arctic

Volume 16
Number 3
14 November 2012

ARCUS Member Highlight

Sandia National Laboratories
Sandia National Laboratories, an ARCUS Member Institution since the early 1990s, develops science and technology-based solutions to national and global security problems. Sandia is a government-owned/contractor operated (GOCO) facility managed by Lockheed Martin, a Fortune 500 company, for the U.S. Department of Energy. The GOCO partnership allows each partner to focus on its strengths: the government establishes mission areas, and the private sector implements the missions using best business practices.

Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)

Study of Environmental Arctic Change
The SEARCH Science Steering Committee (SSC) made significant progress over the past few months in moving SEARCH towards full implementation (see Spring 2012 Witness the Arctic article ). The SEARCH SSC revised the five-year science goals and objectives to incorporate input from the broader scientific community
National Science Foundation
Witness the Arctic (WTA) had a conversation with Dr. Neil Swanberg, Program Director for the Arctic System Science Program (ARCSS) at NSF. He shared his perspective about how opportunities for arctic research are evolving at NSF, the value of and characteristics of successful interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary arctic science efforts, and the challenges and opportunities for the SEARCH program as it continues to develop. WTA: In your view, how are opportunities for arctic research evolving at NSF?

Arctic System Science Program

Witness the Arctic | 2012 | Article | Image
An interdisciplinary team of researchers has applied a systems science approach to investigate how dramatic changes in permafrost features influence the structure and function of the arctic landscape. This study, led by W. B. Bowden of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, focuses on the composition of vegetation, the distribution and processing of soil nutrients, and exports of sediments and nutrients to stream and lake ecosystems to help understand how thawing permafrost will change the arctic landscape and other implications.

Arctic Natural Sciences Program

Healy Top Crew
In the last months of 2011, scientists and crew aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy conducted the first winter research cruise in the Arctic. The purpose of the forty-day cruise was to collect baseline information on the winter physical and biological characteristics of three important arctic seas: the Bering, the Chukchi, and the Beaufort.
Bering Sea scale image
The Bering Sea Project is a multiagency integrated ecosystem study of the eastern Bering Sea. This six-year project received over $50 million from a 2007 NSF and North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) partnership plus significant contributions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and the National Marine Fisheries’ Alaska Fisheries Science Center. It has supported 43 collaborative research projects, nearly 100 principal investigators, plus postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and technicians. With assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies, the Bering Sea Project assembled monetary and ship resources that would have been beyond the reach of any one agency. Now in the synthesis and writing phase, the Bering Sea Project promises to deliver a wealth of new knowledge and understanding of the mechanisms controlling the flow of energy and material through Bering Sea pelagic and benthic food webs, and an enhanced ability to anticipate the inevitable changes that will occur with global warming.
The Lena River discharges to the Arctic Ocean
A research team at the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks has strived to improve understanding of atmospheric dynamics and their role in the rapidly changing arctic climate system. The research is funded in part by the NSF Arctic Sciences Division in collaboration with national and international scientists and students from North Carolina A&T State University, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, North Carolina State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the NASA Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science...

Arctic Research Support and Logistics

NSF's Arctic Sciences (ARC) has established an Information Security and Risk Management Program to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information supporting and generated by scientific research. This initiative is designed to manage Information Technology (IT) risk to better secure information and systems and empower well-informed risk management decisions.

Data Management

Advanced Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service
The Advanced Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (ACADIS) system has expanded to meet data management needs of all research projects sponsored by the NSF’s Arctic Sciences Division. ACADIS builds on the Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (CADIS) project that supported data management needs associated with the Arctic Observing Network (AON). The updated ACADIS Gateway portal ( http://www.aoncadis.org ) now provides data preservation and access services for all projects funded by Arctic Natural Sciences (ANS), Arctic System Sciences (ARCSS), and Arctic Social Sciences (ASSP) programs.

Science Education News

JSEP leaders Lynn Shelly Russell
In July 2012, a group of high school students from three arctic nations visited research facilities in Greenland to participate in the Joint Science Education Program (JSEP), a cultural and scientific exchange between Denmark, Greenland, and the United States. For the past five years this program has brought students together for first-hand experience with arctic research and to learn about each other's language, customs, and cultures. Under the guidance of teachers from all three nations, the students worked alongside researchers in activities that included gathering snow samples to gauge...
PEI initial meetings
Polar Educators International (PEI) is an international professional network for everyone who educates in, for, and about the polar regions. Evidence shows that education and outreach associated with the 2007-08 International Polar Year touched 24 million people through the work of teachers, scientists, writers, filmmakers, policymakers, government agencies, and many others. PEI was organized to continue this momentum. The network began to form during discussions at the IPY meeting in 2010 and was realized during the IPY meeting in 2012 with a formal announcement from Peter Harrison, chair of the IPY 2012 Montreal conference.

Interagency News

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and NSF are completing production of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) 5-Year Arctic Research Plan. Although details about the Plan have not been released yet, a draft version released for public comment in June 2012 ( http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/arctic/iarpc/arc_res_plan_index.jsp ) identified seven key research areas that would benefit from coordination and collaboration—not only among Federal agencies but also with state and local stakeholders, industry, academia, and non-governmental organizations. The seven...
ONR logo
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) Arctic and Global Prediction Program is motivated by the significant sea ice retreat that has occurred in recent summers in the Arctic Ocean, and the implications for the U.S. Navy of the observed and predicted increase in maritime activity due to the diminishing summer ice cover. The overarching goal of the program is to improve the coupling of arctic system modeling and sea ice prediction capability at a variety of space and time scales in support of safe and efficient Navy mission planning and execution. To achieve this goal, the program supports basic...

International News

International Study of Arctic Change
The International Study of Arctic Change (ISAC) is an interdisciplinary program of research on arctic environmental change initiated in the wake of the 2003 Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) Open Science Meeting . A legacy of the International Polar Year (IPY), ISAC facilitates cooperation and collaboration in international arctic research and full integration of stakeholders into the research process. ISAC seeks to extend study of the Arctic from basic science to offer insight into options for solving real-world problems intrinsic to a changing planet.

A Note From the ARCUS Executive Director

Susan Fox
Recently an ARCUS member institution representative asked for my help in making the case for our consortium dues to his department dean. Together we successfully outlined the value that member institutions receive from their ARCUS dues. It is a message worth sharing more broadly.

From the ARCUS Board

ARCUS Board Member Marianne Douglas
In May 2012 the ARCUS Board met in its first face-to-face meeting of recent years. The ARCUS Annual Meeting , convened in Washington, D.C. following the inaugural AGU Science Policy Conference and the ARCUS Arctic Forum, was the opportune time for a one-day retreat. The ever-growing myriad of arctic-related organizations emphasizes the increasing need for interdisciplinary science research that will form the basis for informed arctic policies. An organization such as ARCUS, whose membership is largely academic institutions, can play an important role in enabling this necessary research and...


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 [at] arcus.org.

Subscribe to the Witness the Arctic RSS Feed RSS Feed

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, Helen Wiggins, Kristina Creek, with support from Sue Mitchell, Inkworks

Contributors: C. Ashjian, W. B. Bowden, K. Creek, S. Crowley, M. Douglas, H. Eicken, H. Fiebing, S. E. Fox, S. Harper, G. L. Hunt, Jr., M. Ivey, M. Jeffries, B. P. Kelly, C. Lee, J. Moore, M. Murray, M. Serreze, N. Swanberg, B. Turner-Bogren, P. West, H. Wiggins, L. Yarmey, B. Zak, X. Zhang

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.