Witness the Arctic

Volume 17
Number 3
23 October 2013

Science Education News

Talking About Science

A dozen teenagers from Greenland, Denmark, and the U.S. are twirling across the rolling tundra on the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet laughing, looking as though they're just fooling around. But Dartmouth graduate students Julia Bradley-Cook and Ruth Heindel are leading them in a "carbon cycle dance" as a way to understand photosynthesis and other biological processes important to global warming.

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Spring Break on Ice: U.S. Naval Academy Polar Science Program Field Activities in Barrow, Alaska

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.

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Innovative Field Course Offers Climate Change Lessons for Classroom Teachers

Nine classroom teachers traveled to interior Alaska in July of 2013 for an innovative teacher-training course in climate change. The four-day field course, entitled "Climate Change: Seeing, Understanding, and Teaching" and held in Denali National Park, was facilitated by the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS) in partnership with Alaska Geographic and the National Park Service. Participants traveled throughout the park to view evidence of climate change in the ecosystem including tundra dynamics, receding glaciers, and shifting habitats. The course was co-taught by Sarah Bartholow

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Arctic Social Sciences Program

Ethnographic Study Considers Yup'ik Combat Soldiers of Southwestern Alaska

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is home to some 21,000 Yup'ik people living in fifty-six small and geographically isolated villages. The city of Bethel is the regional hub for economic, political, and cultural exchange. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is an area of approximately 30,000 square miles and is roughly triangular, with the Yukon River along its northern border, the Kuskokwim River along the southeast and the Bering Sea on the southwest.

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Arctic Natural Sciences Program

Understanding the Response of Greenland's Marine Terminating Glaciers to Oceanic and Atmospheric Forcing

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).

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Interagency News

Interagency Teams Formed to Implement Five-Year Arctic Research Plan

The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) has formed 14 interagency teams to implement the Administration’s five-year Arctic Research Plan: FY2013-2017. The plan, released in February 2013, outlines key areas of study the federal government will undertake to better understand and predict environmental changes in the Arctic. The plan was developed by a team of experts

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A Note from the ARCUS President

A Note From the Board President

In the last issue of Witness the Arctic Vera Alexander quoted Bob Dylan's song "The Times They Are A-Changin'" in reference to the myriad environmental, cultural, and political changes we're witnessing in the Arctic. As Vera's successor I've thought a lot about that quote and also thought about how fast things change in one's lifetime. I want to personally thank Vera for sharing, over the years, her keen insights and vast experience in Arctic research. ARCUS and Arctic research will benefit from her strong and enduring commitment to developing a multidisciplinary Arctic research community

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U.S. Arctic Research Commission

Alaska's Rural Water and Sanitation Conundrum

Water is needed for many purposes in daily life, including drinking, cooking, cleaning, and general hygiene. Much of the scientific discourse on water is focused on its quality but researchers have recently found that water quantity is also a factor critical to health in Alaska's rural villages.

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Data Management

Considerations for Data Management in the "Cloud"

Cloud computing -- using a set of hardware, networks, storage, services, and interfaces that combine to deliver data storage and management over the internet -- presents a paradigm shift in how we think about information technology (IT) services, solutions, and risks. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR, security arm of the U.S. Navy) is working with the NSF Arctic Sciences Section Information Security and Risk Management Program to help protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information supporting and generated by the Arctic research community.

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"Cyberinfrastructure for Polar Sciences" Workshop Report

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.

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ACADIS Data Management Services Expanded

The Advanced Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (ACADIS) team continues to support the data management needs of projects funded by NSF's Division of Polar Programs (PLR) Arctic Sciences Section with data submission, preservation, and sharing services.

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International News

International Study of Arctic Change: Arctic Observing Summit Update

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).

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News from the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary

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.

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Polar Research Board

Polar Research Board Study on Emerging Research Questions in the Arctic

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.

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Science Policy News

Arctic Forum 2013: Interagency Collaborations in Advancing Arctic Research

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.

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Arctic Research Support and Logistics

Future Directions for Arctic Research Logistics – Workshop Summary

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Arctic System Science Program

Is it ARCSS?

"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.

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Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)

Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) News

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.

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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, 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.