Witness the Arctic

Volume 20
Number 1
29 February 2016

Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)

Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) Update

This update on the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) program includes recent news highlights from each of SEARCH's three Action Teams as well as reports from the Sea Ice Prediction Network and the Arctic Observing Open Science meeting.

During the SEARCH annual planning meeting that convened 19-20 November 2015 following the Arctic Observing Science Meeting, a shared knowledge-to-action framework was developed to encourage greater coordination and integration across each of SEARCH's three action teams (See: Figure 1).

The framework emphasizes meaningful exchanges across disciplines, significant interactions between researchers and stakeholders, and encourages the cultivation of new scientific knowledge, understanding, and critical observational capabilities.

Using the framework as a guide, Action Team leaders are now sharing what they have learned after their first year of activities with one another. Together, they are identifying new opportunities to increase each Action Team's overall capacity to address SEARCH's five-year science goals and to provide a stronger foundation for Arctic change science and research.

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International News

Arctic Observing Summit Aims to Fulfill Long-standing Potential Between Arctic Governance and Research

In March, the third biennial Arctic Observing Summit (AOS 2016) will be held at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), in conjunction with the Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) and the Arctic Council's Senior Arctic Officials Meeting. Collectively, these events are being convened in hopes of advancing a cohesive agenda for the national and international Arctic research and policy communities. The Arctic Observing Summit is being convened to provide community-driven, science-based guidance for the design, implementation, coordination and sustained long-term (decades) operation of an international network of Arctic observing systems.

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University of Alaska Fairbanks to Host First International Arctic Assembly

Scientists, indigenous people, government officials and other people interested in the Arctic are invited to participate in the first International Arctic Assembly at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) on Tuesday, 15 March 2016. The one-day event will be held at the UAF Davis Concert Hall and streamed online. It will harness the expertise of high-level officials attending the Arctic Science Summit Week, Arctic Observing Summit, and the Arctic Council's Senior Arctic Officials Meeting to examine how the research community, the people of the Arctic, and the policy community can work together to better respond to a rapidly changing Arctic.

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Polar Research Board

Polar Research Board's Arctic Matters Day

The Polar Research Board's "Arctic Matters" initiative is a multifaceted public engagement effort timed to coincide with the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council (April 2015-April 2017). The initiative aims to increase public understanding of changes affecting the Arctic region and the many potential impacts of such changes on people and places around the world.

As part of that initiative, the Polar Research Board (PRB) held a free public event, "Arctic Matters Day," on 14 January in Washington, D.C. The program included six keynote presentations, a variety of panel discussions, and a set of ten interactive exhibits. Throughout the day, the focus was on layman-friendly demonstrations and discussions about how we all affect and are affected by the dramatic environmental changes happening in the Arctic region.

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Interagency News

IARPC Releases Biennial Report and Plans for Next 5-year Research Plan

In December 2015, the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability released the Biennial Report of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC). The report covers Arctic research activities carried out by 16 Federal agencies under the IARPC 5-Year Arctic Research Plan issued by the White House in February 2013. An excerpt from a White House blog post written by Tamara Dickinson and Mike Kuperberg at the time of the Biennial Report's release is provided below, followed by information about the process by which IARPC will update the current 5-Year plan.

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NOAA's 2015 Arctic Report Card

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released the 2015 Arctic Report Card on 15 December 2015 during a press conference associated with the Fall Meetings of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, California. The report was presented by Report Card co-Editors, Martin Jeffries (Office of Naval Research) and Jackie Richter-Menge (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory), along with contributor Kit Kovacs (Norsk Polarinstitutt/Norwegian Polar Institute) and NOAA Chief Scientist Rick Spinrad.

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Science Education News

2016-2017 PolarTREC Expeditions

PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating), a professional development program that brings together K-12 teachers from around the United States and polar researchers through an innovative teacher research experience is one of ARCUS' signature programs. For over a decade, ARCUS has placed over 150 teachers with scientists in the Arctic and Antarctic to increase their knowledge about polar science and become better teachers. Working within the research teams, the teachers serve as research technicians, laborers, educators, or observers. They also act as public outreach officers, making contact with the public through web-based presentations, journals, and photos of their experiences. Once home, participants integrate their experiences into classroom instruction and continue public outreach, making the experience a part of their ongoing professional career development. In 2016-2017, fifteen teachers will be heading out to the polar regions for their teacher research experiences. More information about their experiences can be found on the Virtual Base Camp.

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Arctic Social Sciences Program

Arctic Horizons —Developing Goals for Arctic Social Sciences in the 21st Century

Arctic Horizons has planned a series of five workshops in 2016 that engage a diverse group of approximately 150 western and indigenous scholars to discuss the state-of-the-art in Arctic Social Sciences. Each workshop is structured around a set of core questions, which will be circulated to attendees in advance. The full schedule of workshops and information on joining is available here. In addition, the Arctic Horizons Steering Committee will hold town hall meetings at 2016 Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW2016), the Alaskan Anthropological Association 2016 Conference, and the Association of American Geographers 2016 Conference to broaden input from the scientific community.

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A Note From the ARCUS Executive Director

Connecting Arctic Research – A Note from the ARCUS Executive Director

Greetings from ARCUS headquarters in snow-covered Fairbanks!

The Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS) is dedicated to connecting Arctic research across boundaries, and has been for more than 25 years. We work to support communication, coordination, and collaboration between researchers, among institutions, spanning disciplines, bridging sectors, and connecting nations. Witness the Arctic is one of many offerings we provide.

Since I last wrote, ARCUS has been very busy. We convened the Arctic Observing Open Science Meeting in November that brought a wide range of researchers and funders to Seattle. We kicked off the eleventh year of PolarTREC, enabling teachers from around the country to become a part of an Arctic or Antarctic research expedition and inspire their teaching and that of their colleagues. We inaugurated the Arctic Research D.C. Seminar/Webinar Series, which allows some of the leading Arctic researchers to meet with Washington policymakers and others to discuss the latest discoveries.

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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
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Executive Director: Dr. Robert Rich

Contributors: S. Bartholow, N. Bauer, J. Danielson, T. Dickinson, L. Everett, M. Jeffries, A. Kerttula, M. Kuperberg, A. Larson, B. Myers, J. Overland, R. Rich, J. Richter-Menge, L. Sheffield-Guy, S. Starkweather, K. Timm, B. Turner-Bogren, J. Warburton, H. Wiggins

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.