Witness the Arctic

Volume 18
Number 1
28 February 2014

ARCUS Member Highlight

Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University (TAMU), a long-standing ARCUS Member Institution, is a Land Grant, Sea Grant and Space Grant institution with its main campus in College Station, Texas. TAMU is dedicated to the discovery, development, communication, and application of knowledge in a wide range of academic and professional fields. With more than $700 million in research expenditures generated by faculty-researchers, the school has over 58,000 students—including 12,000 graduate students—enrolled in 10 academic colleges. The University supports several Arctic research efforts including those in the Colleges of Geosciences, Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Liberal Arts.

Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)

Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) News
Online proposals are being solicited for funding support to enable discussions related to long-term observing management and governance. Supported discussions will focus on development of best practices in long-term observing, lessons learned from other long-term observing activities, and other related issues. Funding for these discussions is being provided through a cooperative agreement to ARCUS from NSF's Arctic Observing Network (AON) Program.

Arctic Research Support and Logistics

Nation Science Foundation
NSF's Arctic Research Support and Logistics (RSL) program hosted an Arctic Field Safety Risk Management Workshop on 4-5 February 2014 to initiate a discussion of Arctic field safety risk management. Over 50 participants attended representing diverse academic disciplines, facility managers, university risk management offices, field support providers and incorporating experiences from across the Arctic.

Data Management

The Advanced Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (ACADIS) team continues to support data management needs of projects funded by NSF's Division of Polar Programs (PLR) Arctic Sciences Section (ARC) with data submission, preservation, and sharing services.
Communities by region
By: Ginny Fay and Ben Saylor, Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, http://www.iser.uaa.alaska.edu The Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) recently launched the Alaska Energy Data Gateway , a new online database containing energy data—most of it at the community level—from across Alaska. The site provides data from many sources, in a user-friendly format and through a single access point with data available for download in a variety of file formats. Communities by region The purpose of this new data gateway is to make it easier for Alaskans—...

Science Policy News

National Strategy for the Arctic Region
On 30 January 2014 the Obama Administration released the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region (Implementation Plan). This plan sets forth the methodology, process, and approach for executing the National Strategy for the Arctic Region (Strategy), which the Obama Administration released on 10 May 2013.
State Department
United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, announced plans to create a Special Representative for the Arctic Region. These plans were announced 14 February 2014 and communicated to U.S. Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska.
Department of Defense 2013 Arctic Strategy
The Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the Department of Defense (DOD) Arctic Strategy during the Halifax International Security Forum on 22 November 2013.

National Science Foundation News

Nation Science Foundation
Arctic Natural Sciences Program Director William Wiseman hosted NSF's Arctic Sciences Town Hall meeting on 10 December 2013 during the American Geophysical Union (AGU) fall meeting in San Francisco. Polar Cyberinfrastructure Program Director Marco Tedesco and Research Support and Logistics program contractor Jennifer Mercer joined Wiseman at the meeting to provide news from the Arctic Sciences Section, program updates, and an open forum for questions about NSF activities.

Interagency News

Photo by Jeff Peneston (PolarTREC 2008/2009), Courtesy of ARCUS
The Sea Ice Predication Network (SIPN) , launched in late 2013, is a collaborative network of scientists and stakeholders seeking to advance research on Arctic sea ice prediction and communication of sea ice knowledge and tools. With funding from NSF's Arctic Sciences Section...
Arctic Report Card Website
The 2013 Arctic Report Card was released on 12 December 2013 during a press conference led by Dr. Martin Jeffries, Principal Editor of the Arctic Report Card and science advisor to the U.S. Arctic Research Commission . This annual update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports on key indicators and components being tracked in the Arctic. The 2013 update contains 18 essays by 147 authors from 14 countries describing the state of the Arctic environmental system.
Jeremy T. Mathis, PhD, is also the Director of the Ocean Acidification Research Center at University of Alaska Fairbanks. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Mathis.
Since the pre-industrial era, human activities have increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) concentrations by about 40% to values near 400 ppm, which is higher than at any point during the last 800,000 years. During this rapid loading of the atmosphere, the ocean has absorbed more than 25% of the total emitted anthropogenic CO 2 , helping to offset atmospheric warming, but fundamentally changing ocean chemistry.
Figure 1. 2012-2014 Northern Alaskan study area and sites mentioned in text.  Image courtesy of Shelby Anderson.
While the impacts of climate change on natural systems and contemporary northern communities are fairly well established, current and future climate change impacts on the archaeology of the north are not well understood. The general threat of climate change to Arctic archaeological sites is apparent (Blankholm 2009).

International News

Figure 1. An adult arctic fox peruses the beach for washed-up carrion in Hornstrandir, stronghold of the Icelandic arctic fox. Photo courtesy of Juliann Schamel.
The Arctic Fox Research Centre , located in Sudavik, Westfjords, Iceland, opened in September of 2007 to conduct primary research on the arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) and to inform and develop sustainable tourism practices for visiting and viewing the arctic fox in Iceland's national parks and preserves.

From the ARCUS Board

Michael J. Retelle
Michael J. Retelle is the current President of the ARCUS Board of Directors. Elected to the board in 2007, and as its president in July 2013, his term ends in 2016. Mike also served on the ARCUS board in the 1990's.
Johannes (Hans) Verlinde
Johannes (Hans) Verlinde is the current Secretary of the ARCUS Board of Directors. Elected to the Board in 2008, and as its secretary in 2013, his term ends in 2014.


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.

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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

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

Contributors: S. Andersen, D. Cairns, R. Crain, H. Eicken, G. Fay, J. Fahnestock, M. Jeffries, J. T. Mathis, J. Mercer, J. Moore, J. Richter-Menge, T. Rosati, B. Saylor, J. Schamel, M. Serreze, M. Tedesco, B. Turner-Bogren, H. Wiggins, Wm. Wiseman, 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.