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.

SEARCH Science Steering Committee Meeting

Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) Update

An in-person meeting of the SEARCH Science Steering Committee (SSC), Action Team Leads, and Science Office took place at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado on 25-26 May 2016. The SSC discussed the accomplishments of SEARCH's three Action Teams as well as the newly convened Communications Working Group's efforts to prioritize audiences, messages, and tools to communicate SEARCH science products. The SSC also worked with SEARCH's Action Team leaders to prioritize the program's emerging interdisciplinary activities associated with Arctic observing coordination, scenarios development, methane synthesis, and coastal resilience.

SEARCH Contribution to Arctic Science Ministerial

Also in May, SEARCH recommended increased investments in Arctic observing systems to the White House's Arctic Executive Steering Committee. The recommendation urged the Committee to advance international support for sustained observing at the Arctic Science Ministerial planned for September 2016. A background document (see: Arctic Science Ministerial Meeting Input), expands on opportunities for a coordinated international Arctic Observing effort, building on discussions among the research community and stakeholders held at the Arctic Observing Summit and Arctic Science Summit Week in March 2016.

SEARCH Action Teams

The Permafrost Action Team: Document and Understand How Degradation of Near-Surface Permafrost Will Affect Arctic and Global Systems

Permafrost Carbon Network Co-Leads Meeting

The Permafrost Action Team will be hosting a meeting of the Permafrost Carbon Network's (PCN's) synthesis product leads/co-leads on 18-19 June 2016 in Potsdam, Germany. Taking place two days prior to the International Conference on Permafrost, this invitation-only meeting will engage approximately 20 participants from the United States, Europe, and China in the PCN's ongoing effort to generate new science synthesis projects and to link these efforts to the broader goals of the SEARCH Permafrost Action Team.

Sessions at the International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP) XI

The Permafrost Carbon Network has co-organized a session titled Climate Change, the Permafrost Carbon Feedback: Past, Present, and Future for this summer's International Conference on Permafrost in Potsdam, Germany. Chaired by Christian Knoblauch, Christina Schädel, and Yuri Dvornikov, it will feature oral and poster presentations on 20–21 June 2016.

New Science Highlight

An article from the Permafrost Action Team titled Potential Carbon Emissions Dominated by Carbon Dioxide from Thawed Permafrost Soils was published online in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The study was led by Northern Arizona University assistant research professor, Christina Schädel. Schädel's meta-analysis of 25 Arctic soil incubation studies found that both temperature and soil conditions affected the quantity of carbon released from thawing permafrost. "Our results show that increasing temperatures have a large effect on carbon release from permafrost but that changes in soil moisture conditions have an even greater effect," says Schädel. "We conclude that the permafrost carbon feedback will be stronger when a larger percentage of the permafrost zone undergoes thaw in a dry and oxygen-rich environment."

Scientists in the international Permafrost Carbon Network that Schädel co-leads with Northern Arizona University professor of ecosystem ecology, Ted Schuur, provided much of the data. To access this article—as well as many more studies published by members of the Permafrost Carbon Network in 2016—please visit: http://www.permafrostcarbon.org/publications.html.

Postdoctoral Fellowship Opportunity

The International Arctic Research Center (IARC) is currently accepting applications for a Postdoctoral Fellow to work with the SEARCH Permafrost Action Team. The foci of the position are: 1) to conduct new synthesis research on one of several topics important for understanding the impacts of degrading permafrost, and 2) to assist with the coordination of a permafrost synthesis network addressing this topic. In addition to expertise in permafrost, ecosystems, or global change biology, candidates with experience connecting permafrost issues to community sustainability, climate impacts on native/indigenous peoples, and/or Arctic infrastructure and resource development are especially encouraged to apply. The position is located at University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) with research visits to Northern Arizona University.

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Ted Schuur (ted.schuur [at] nau.edu). To apply, please submit required documents to the UAF Postdoctoral Fellow position described here. Application review starts June 30th and the position will remain open until filled.

The Sea Ice Action Team: Improve Understanding, Advance Prediction, and Explore Consequences of Changing Arctic Sea Ice

In the past few months, members of the Sea Ice Action Team have been active contributors to a number of SEARCH-affiliated sea ice activities, including the Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO) and the Sea Ice Prediction Network. They have also developed papers, posters, and surveys for key community events such as the Arctic Observing Summit 2016 and the 2016 Polar Prediction Workshop.

Sea Ice Action Team (SIAT) Workshops

In the months to come, the SIAT will be facilitating two workshops designed to engage diverse groups of researchers, stakeholders, and decision-makers in the Action Team's ongoing mission to advance understanding and awareness of the impacts of Arctic sea-ice loss by enabling collaboration, community engagement, and communication.

The first workshop, "Connecting Sea Ice, Science, and Societal Resilience in the Bering Sea", will take place as part of the Aleutian Life Forum on 20 August 2016 in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. By exploring the role that sea ice conditions (past, present, and future) play in Bering Sea communities, economies, and decision-making, this event will illuminate the critical connections that exist between sea ice and society and the implications for the production of societally relevant science.

The second event, a Sea Ice Action Team Knowledge Exchange Workshop, will take place 14-16 September 2016 in Washington, D.C. in collaboration with the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. At this event, invited experts will discuss the impacts of sea-ice loss on Arctic ecosystems and lower latitude weather as well as on human activities in the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas. The workshop will be used to identify emerging research topics and critical knowledge gaps that would benefit from scientific synthesis, and to build the connections and communications needed to sustain ongoing interdisciplinary collaboration around these topics. The Northern Pacific Research Board (NPRB) will be sponsoring two early career researchers to attend the workshop. Interested graduate students or early career researchers (within five years of receiving a terminal degree) can apply here or contact Matthew Druckenmiller (druckenmiller [at] nsidc.org) for more information.

The Land Ice Action Team (LIAT): Improve Predictions of Future Land Ice Loss and Impacts on Sea Level

Over the past few months, the Land Ice Action Team's focus has been on laying the groundwork to establish a Greenland Ice Sheet Ocean Observing System (GrIOOS) to collect long-term measurements at the glacier margins of the Greenland Ice Sheet. In December 2015, the Land Ice Action team hosted a workshop with researchers, agency officials, and stakeholders to identify key features of the system such as observation variables, monitoring sites, and methods of data capture.

Outcomes from the workshop informed the LIAT's white paper contribution to the March 2016 Arctic Observing Summit and the team's presentation in April to the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) Glaciers and Fjords Collaboration Team. Workshop outcomes have also been synthesized into a formal workshop report that is now under review by the SEARCH community. This document will be shared with the wider public over the months to come to further develop the plan for GrIOOS implementation and to build the international partnerships and support that will be necessary for system deployment.

New Postdoc to Join the Land Ice Action Team (LIAT)

Allen Pope (twitter: @PopePolar) will be joining SEARCH's Land Ice Action Team as a postdoctoral researcher in July 2016. Allen, a research associate with the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, is already contributing to SEARCH communication and outreach efforts. As part of the LIAT, Allen will assist with efforts to improve predictions associated with future land-ice loss, develop tools that are useful to stakeholders and decision-makers in preparing for land-ice loss impacts, and assist in the facilitation of new cross-disciplinary networks and research activities designed to meet the SEARCH LIAT's science goals.

Other SEARCH-Related Activities

The activities below have emerged from the wider SEARCH research community and are considered contributions to SEARCH.

Sea Ice Prediction Network (SIPN)

The Sea Ice Prediction Network (SIPN), led by an interdisciplinary leadership team, manages a series of activities to improve seasonal sea ice forecasting.

2016 Polar Prediction Workshop

SIPN co-organized the 2016 Polar Prediction Workshop with several sponsors and co-organizers, including: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Polar Climate Predictability Initiative, the Polar Prediction Project, World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), World Weather Research Programme (WWRP), and World Climate Research Programme-Climate and Cryosphere (WCRP-CliC).

The workshop focused on sources of polar predictability on the sub-seasonal to inter-annual timescales, sea ice prediction, and operational and research efforts. The meeting included a series of invited talks as well as contributed presentations and poster sessions. Seventy-four participants attended, with 61 additional participants joining via a live, and live-tweeted (follow @ArcticResearch), webcast. Outcomes of the meeting included recommendations for the Sea Ice Outlook and other activities related to polar prediction; the meeting organizers will develop a brief meeting summary this summer.

Webinar Series

SIPN continued its webinar series with a webinar in March by Cathleen Geiger, University of Delaware, on "Challenges and Best Practices: Sea Ice Thickness Distribution as a Rosetta Stone for Cross-Scale Communication." This webinar focused on estimating sea ice thickness across scales and included discussion on measurement accuracy and challenges related to estimating sea ice thickness, and new best practices. Fifty participants attended the webinar, which is archived at: https://www.arcus.org/sipn/meetings/webinars.

The next webinar will be held in July and announced via the SIPN mailing list.

Sea Ice Outlook

The Sea Ice Outlook (SIO) is the core activity of SIPN and provides an open process for those interested in Arctic sea ice to share predictions and information on seasonal Arctic sea ice. The monthly reports contain a variety of perspectives—from advanced numerical models to qualitative perspectives from citizen scientists.

The 2016 SIO season commenced with a call for early and informal contributions and a call for formal contributions for the June report; the June report will be released the last week of June.

Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO)

25 May 2016, a walrus lounges on an ice floe off the coast of Wales, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Amos Oxereok.25 May 2016, a walrus lounges on an ice floe off the coast of Wales, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Amos Oxereok.

The 2016 Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO) was launched with the first report on 30 April. SIWO. Funded by a Cooperative Agreement from NSF to ARCUS, SIWO combines sea ice, weather, and wind forecasting efforts from the National Weather Service with in situ observations from researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and local feedback from native village elders and experts. Looking specifically at four rural Alaskan villages—Gambell, Savoonga, Wales, and Shishmaref—in the Bering Strait region, SIWO releases weekly reports on conditions relevant to the spring walrus hunts that are critical to these communities' subsistence lifestyles.

The season will likely end with the report released last Friday, 10 June, as the areas in question are now almost completely free of sea ice. This end-date is similar to the 2015 season but earlier than the project's average. The weekly reports from the project's inception through the current season are archived on the SIWO website, at https://www.arcus.org/search-program/siwo.

The Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS), which serves as the project management office for SIWO, plans to seek funding to expand the project in the coming year. If you have thoughts or ideas for the Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook, please contact project manager Kristina Creek (creek [at] arcus.org).

2015 Arctic Observing Open Science Meeting (AOOSM)

The Arctic Observing Open Science Meeting (AOOSM) was held 17-19 November 2015 in Seattle, WA. The meeting provided an opportunity for community discussion of scientific findings, advances, and achievements in Arctic observing. Presentations and abstracts from plenary, panel, and parallel session speakers are available on the meeting website. AOOSM outcomes were presented at the 2016 Arctic Observing Summit held in Fairbanks, Alaska in both a Short Statement and Poster (see: https://www.arcus.org/search-program/meetings/2016/AOS). Meeting organizers are currently developing a meeting report and additional products.