Polar Research Board's Arctic Matters Day

By: Lauren Everett, Program Officer at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Fran Ulmer, U.S. Arctic Research Commission Chair, welcomes the public to the keynote presentations during Arctic Matters Day. Photo courtesy of National Academies, Arctic Matters.Fran Ulmer, U.S. Arctic Research Commission Chair, welcomes the public to the keynote presentations during Arctic Matters Day. Photo courtesy of National Academies, Arctic Matters.

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.

Max Holmes, Woods Hole Research Center, talks about amplifying forces in climate change. Photo courtesy of National Academies, Arctic Matters.Max Holmes, Woods Hole Research Center, talks about amplifying forces in climate change. Photo courtesy of National Academies, Arctic Matters.

This event attracted a diverse, enthusiastic crowd of approximately 500 people. Attendees included university and high school students and teachers; congressional staff; embassy representatives; federal, state, and local government agency representatives, people from think tanks, NGOs, and private sector organizations; and individual concerned citizens—many of whom had never before attended an Arctic-themed event.

Presentation videos and a photo gallery are available along with further information on the Arctic Matters website. The Polar Research Board has produced a suite of educational resources, including a booklet, website, and classroom poster all available free online.

The PRB is a unit within the National Academies responsible for studies related to the Arctic, Antarctic, and cold regions in general. More information about the PRB and other related activities can be found here.

Members of the public attending Arctic Matters Day enjoyed interactive displays and conversations with presenters. Photo courtesy of National Academies, Arctic Matters.Members of the public attending Arctic Matters Day enjoyed interactive displays and conversations with presenters. Photo courtesy of National Academies, Arctic Matters.