Volume 17
Number 3
23 October 2013

Volume 17, Number 3 - Fall 2013

Interagency Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)

The SEARCH Science Steering Committee (SSC) is awaiting results of a proposal that the SEARCH SSC and the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS) submitted to NSF and other SEARCH Interagency Program Management Committee agencies in support of a new organizational structure and framework (see the main SEARCH website for a PDF summary of the new SEARCH framework). The results of the proposal and next steps will be announced via ArcticInfo as they are known.

Arctic System Science Program

"Does my idea for a proposal fit the Arctic System Science (ARCSS) program?" This is probably the most common question we hear from prospective researchers. Often the question is asked in a binary fashion—does it fit ARCSS or Arctic Natural Sciences (ANS)? In fact it was the frequency of this particular question that prompted us in the Arctic Sciences Section (then Division) to experiment for a few years in blurring the boundaries between ARCSS and ANS by holding a joint Arctic environmental competition.

Arctic Natural Sciences Program

Mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet between 1992-2011 resulted in a net contribution to sea-level rise of approximately 7.5 mm, roughly twice the Antarctic contribution (Shepherd et al. 2012). Half of this loss is associated with increased melt and run-off caused by rising air temperatures over the ice sheet, and is well reproduced by models (van den Broeke et al. 2009).

Data Management

In mid-September, the Polar Geospatial Center hosted the NSF-Sponsored Workshop on Cyberinfrastructure for Polar Sciences at the University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center. The workshop featured invited talks, plenary discussions, and breakout sessions, and was attended by approximately 60 in-person participants. In addition, community members were invited to participate virtually. Plenary talks (downloadable as a PDF document) and recorded video presentations are available on the workshop website .

Science Education News

For the majority of undergraduate students, the term "spring break" is synonymous with sun, surf and, sand. However, this was not the case for five students from the United States Naval Academy (USNA) this past March. The newly developed and fast-growing Polar Science Program (PSP) of the USNA's Oceanography Department conducted its first Naval Academy Ice Experiment (NAICEX), based out of Barrow, Alaska, from 8-16 March 2013.

Science Policy News

The 2013 Arctic Forum convened on 25 June in Washington D.C. with a focus on U.S. government interagency collaborations to advance Arctic research. The forum, sponsored by ARCUS with funding from NSF's Division of Polar Programs Arctic Sciences Section, was a featured section of the 2013 American Geophysical Union's (AGU) Science Policy Conference: Preparing for our Future .

Polar Research Board

Arctic research has gained substantial prominence during the last decade, as change in this region has been system-wide and has progressed at a rate exceeding expectations. Public attention has grown as well, a result of reductions in sea-ice, increased threats to homes from coastal erosion, loss of land ice and the implications for sea-level, thawing of permafrost and what that might mean for climate change and for Arctic and sub-Arctic infrastructure, and the exposure brought by the International Polar Year 2007-2008.

International News

The Arctic Institute of North America (AINA) is a non-profit membership organization and a multi-disciplinary research institute at the University of Calgary. The Institute was created in 1945 by an act of Canadian Parliament. It's mandate is to advance the study of the North American and circumpolar Arctic through the natural and social sciences and the arts and humanities, to preserve and disseminate information on the physical, environmental, and social conditions in the North.
Planning for the second Arctic Observing Summit, AOS 2014, is now underway. The AOS is led by the International Study of Arctic Change (ISAC). It is a task of the Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) process. SOAN is led jointly by the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).


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 3-4 times per year depending on newsworthy events. Witness has over 9,800 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.

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Executive Director: Susan E. Fox

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

Contributors: S. Bartholow, S. Bowden, L. M. Brown, T. DeLiberty, H. Eicken, H. Fiebing, C. Geiger, L. B. Green, G. Henderson, R. M. Holmes, L. McDavid, J. Moore, M. Murray, J. Pundsack, M. Retelle, I. Rigor, C. Rosa, T. Rosati, M. Serreze, F. Straneo, N. R. Swanberg, B. Turner-Bogren, H. Wiggins, S. Wolfe, J. Woods, L. Yarmey

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.