Witness the Arctic

Volume 20
Number 2
17 June 2016

Data Management

The NSF Arctic Data Center: A New Home for Arctic Research Data

In March 2016, the Arctic Data Center was launched and assumed preservation responsibility for Arctic research data from National Science Foundation (NSF) awards. The center serves as the NSF research community's primary repository for Arctic data preservation and data discovery, and is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) via a five-year award. The Arctic Data Center currently lists 3,899 data sets covering data from myriad research fields.

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Science Education News

New Program Brings the Arctic to the Classroom

The Arctic in the Classroom (TAC) is a recently developed program created by the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS) that partners scientists, educators, and communities to collaborate on improving Arctic education. This 4-year program provides activities targeted to educate K-12 teachers, students, communities, and others about the Arctic.

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Arctic System Science Program

The Forum for Arctic Modeling and Observational Synthesis (FAMOS) School

The Forum for Arctic Modeling and Observational Synthesis (FAMOS) is an NSF-funded project designed to enhance the collaboration between Arctic marine modelers and observationalists, as well as others who are interested in working with such scientists. A key part of this effort is the annual workshop, usually held at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) each fall. Since 2009, the first day of the workshop is devoted to the FAMOS School for those new to Arctic marine studies.

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ARCUS Member Highlight

ARCUS Member Highlight: UIC Science

"Witness the Arctic" regularly features the research and related programs of ARCUS member institutions. This issue spotlights UIC Science, a subsidiary of the Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation, the village corporation for Barrow, Alaska formed under the authority of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (43 U.S.C. 1601).

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Science News

Meltdown: Archaeologists Find Ancient History in Ice and Snow

A creative sub-specialty of archaeology, called glacial archaeology, has become the key to opening an ancient fragile treasury to begin to tell the story of ancient peoples and their innate relationships to the earth. At high latitudes and altitudes, formerly permanent ice is melting: climate change is immutably taking place. Artifacts and biological specimens, long preserved by freezing temperatures, are beginning to appear at diverse sites throughout the cryosphere.

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Cool as Ice: Ten Years and 10,000 Miles by Snowmachine to Study Arctic Lakes

Ten years ago Christopher Arp (UAF) and Benjamin Jones (USGS) left from Barrow, Alaska, by snowmachine and headed 100 miles southeast along the Beaufort Sea coast to Teshekpuk Lake—Alaska's largest Arctic lake. As novices to such remote winter fieldwork they experienced numerous challenges. With much appreciated support from the experience of local guide, Ronal Aveoganna, and another USGS scientist, David Selkowitz, Arp and Jones gained insight into making such expeditions safe, successful, and a source of valuable scientific data.

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U.S. Arctic Research Commission

Update on Recent U.S. Arctic Research Commission Activities

The U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) is an independent federal agency that was established in 1984 by the Arctic Research and Policy Act. Its principal duties are to develop and recommend an integrated national Arctic research policy and to assist in establishing a national Arctic research program plan. This article discusses recent appointments to the Commission, developments within the three USARC working groups, upcoming events, and new publications.

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International News

White House Arctic Science Ministerial and Call-To-Action

On 28 September 2016, the U.S. Administration will host the first-ever Arctic Science Ministerial meeting in Washington, D.C., convening science ministers, chief science advisors, indigenous representatives, and other high-level officials from foreign governments around the world in an effort to advance international scientific collaboration in the Arctic. The goals for the meeting are "to advance promising, near-term science initiatives and create a context for increased international scientific collaboration on the Arctic over the longer term."

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IASC Secretariat Moves from Germany to Iceland

The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) was founded in 1990 by representatives of scientific organizations from the eight Arctic countries. Currently comprised of the original eight countries plus 15 non-Arctic nations, the organizational needs of IASC are served by an international Secretariat that is hosted and financed by an IASC member country. Norway, Sweden, and Germany have previously hosted the Secretariat; during a March 2016 meeting the IASC Council decided that Iceland will host starting in 2017.

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Largest Arctic Science Summit Week to Date is a Leap Forward for Arctic Research and Policy

Over 1,000 Arctic experts and enthusiasts convened in Fairbanks, Alaska on 11-18 March for the 2016 Arctic Science Summit Week, Arctic Observing Summit, and numerous other meetings and events. With participants representing 30 nations and more than 130 different institutions, the gathering represents a significant step towards the future of Arctic research and policy. While this was the 18th Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) convened by the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and its partner organizations, the conference achieved many notable firsts.

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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 from each of SEARCH's three Action Teams as well as highlights from other activities that contribute to SEARCH goals, including the Sea Ice Prediction Network, the Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook, and the Arctic Observing Open Science meeting.

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National Science Foundation News

Recent Personnel Changes in NSF’s Division of Polar Programs

The National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs has seen several key personnel changes in recent months. Brian W. Stone, who had headed the Division’s Antarctic Infrastructure and Logistics (AIL) section, began an assignment as Chief of Staff to NSF Director France A. Córdova. In the wake of this appointment, other changes took place in the Division’s senior management.

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A Note From the ARCUS Executive Director

Arctic Research Policy Update: An Inside-the-Beltway View

Greetings from the ARCUS D.C. Office, which is increasingly serving as a hub of Arctic research activity here in the nation's capital. A major advantage of my being based in D.C. (with our headquarters remaining in Fairbanks, Alaska) is the ability to participate in the frequent policy discussions related to Arctic research. We can also host local events in our building, such as the ARCUS-sponsored Arctic Research Seminar Series, the December IARPC Re-visioning Workshop, and the April International Arctic Fisheries Meeting.

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Connecting Arctic Research – A Note from the ARCUS Executive Director

The Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS) has been dedicated to connecting Arctic research across boundaries 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, and we encourage each Witness reader to complete the Arctic research readership needs survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ArcticReadership.

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Interagency News

The Synthesis of Arctic Research - A Holistic Look at the "New Normal" Pacific Arctic

The Synthesis of Arctic Research (SOAR), led by NOAA scientists Sue Moore and Phyllis Stabeno, and supported by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), was initiated in 2011 to capture the conditions of the changing Pacific Arctic using completed and ongoing research. The effort takes a holistic look at the "new normal" Pacific Arctic of the last decade, which now has a longer open-water season with reduced sea ice thickness and extent, increased primary production, and observed changes in abundance and behavior of Arctic species.

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Development of the IARPC 5-Year Research Plan 2017-2021

The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee, a subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), is made up of representatives from 15 federal agencies and chaired by the National Science Foundation. It is in the process of drafting its next 5-year research plan—Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021—to guide the overall federal effort in Arctic research.

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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: Dr. Robert Rich

Editors: Betsy Turner-Bogren, Kristina Creek, and Helen Wiggins

Contributors: C. Arp, S. Bowden, A. Budden, R. Cooper, K. Creek, M. Druckenmiller, J. Farrell, Þ. Gunnarsson, B. Jones, M. Jones, B.P. Kelly, M. LaValley, B. Myers, K. Newyear, A. Pope, A. Proshutinsky, V. Rachold, R. Rich, T. Scambos, C. Schädel, M. Schildhauer, L. Sheffield Guy, M. Stapleton, S. Starkweather, M. Steel, K. Timm, J. Warburton, P. West, 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.