Witness the Arctic

Volume 22
Number 1
24 August 2018

ARCUS Member Highlight

WHRC scientist Max Holmes peers over the edge of a bluff of permafrost – dense stores of soil carbon which contain high volumes of carbon. Photo courtesy of Sue Natali.
This article spotlights the Woods Hole Research Center that has been an ARCUS member institution since 2006. The work of the Woods Hole Research Center is centered on land-based carbon: where it is stored, where it is changing and at risk of being released. Their scientists combine fieldwork, satellite data, and computer simulations to examine the land-climate connection – how changes in land use effect the climate system and how the changing climate is altering systems on land such as forests, ecosystems, and agriculture.

Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)

SEARCH Program Updates
This update on the SEARCH program includes information about new members to the Science Steering Committee, a workshop organized by the Permafrost Carbon Network's Synthesis Working Group, and highlights of the Arctic Futures 2050 initiative activities, including Arctic Answer briefs and plans for the Science to Inform Decisions conference scheduled for early September 2019.

Arctic System Science Program

SIPN2 Activities
The Sea Ice Prediction Network–Phase 2 (SIPN2) network of U.S. and international members aims to improve Arctic sea ice forecasts using a multi-disciplinary approach that includes modeling, new products, data analysis, and scientific networks. Stakeholder engagement and partnerships are fostered through the open Sea Ice Outlook (SIO) process, action teams, webinars, and workshops.

Arctic Natural Sciences Program

Figure 1. Map of recent beaver colonization in Arctic tundra of Alaska and northwestern Canada. Orange line approximates treeline, which was historically considered to be the range limit of beavers. Yellow arrows denote known beaver colonization routes since 1999. White arrows speculate future colonization routes and the plus signs indicate observed beaver ponds beyond treeline. Image courtesy of Tape et al.
Beavers are ecosystem engineers that alter hydrology and impact many aspects of stream and surrounding ecosystems. A team of researchers recently developed a new approach that used Landsat data to identify wetting and drying trends and high-resolution satellite imagery to locate potential sites of beaver pond formation and map the beaver encroachment from the boreal forest into the increasing shrub habitat in the Arctic tundra.
Photo of TA station E22K, located near Anaktuvuk Pass in the Brooks Range, on 18 July 2018. On this service trip, IRIS staff installed two additional lithium batteries and a wind turbine for extra power (the black cylinder on the left). The box in the foreground marks the top of the seismometer borehole. Photo by Max Enders, IRIS
The EarthScope Transportable Array (TA) of seismic stations across Alaska and western Canada covers areas that previously had sparse or no monitoring. Enhanced instrumentation can provide data to allow for detailed monitoring of sea-ice coverage and thickness, weather data available to fire managers, and expand both the geographic range and landscape-type coverage for permafrost study.

Science News

Figure 1. Annual mean SAT anomalies (solid lines) relative to 1979-2004 climatology and their linear trends (dashed lines) over 1998-2012 for (a) the Arctic region (60-90ºN) and (b) the globe. In (a), the black lines are the results using the conventional Kriging interpolation, the red lines are the mean of two reconstructed datasets using the new method of DINEOF, and the blue shading represents the range of the two reconstructed datasets. In (b), the black lines show the results using global SATs from Kar
Recent work by a group of researchers at University of Alaska Fairbanks and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, revealed gaps in the spatial and temporal observation datasets analyzed in the earlier global warming studies. By analyzing a newly reconstructed global surface air temperature (SAT) dataset, the group found that the Arctic warming amplification has significantly contributed to the global warming trend, causing a continued and even accelerated increase in global mean SAT, rather than a hiatus or slowdown of the trend as earlier studies suggested.

Interagency News

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Barrow Observatory in Utqiagvik is one of several research facilities used by federal agencies in Alaska's Arctic. The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee is working on revised guidelines for those agencies. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
The newly revised Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic is now available for public comment. The new version was developed by the Principles Revision Working Group, that undertook a year-long process to update the 1990 version, to reflect approaches to collaboration and to be applicable across scientific disciplines. The process included a variety of methods, including listening sessions at scientific conferences, through a Federal Register Notice, and targeted interviews with Alaska residents and researchers. Public comments are due by 4 September 2018.
Registration for the "Taking the Helm" panel discussion with more than 300 participants, representing 32 countries. Photo courtesy of Stephen Curtain.
International panelists explored the experiences and prospects for women in polar research during the "From Entering the Field to Taking the Helm, Perspectives of Women in Polar Research" panel discussion. This event, attended by more than 300 participants, was convened during June 2018 in coordination with the POLAR2018 conference held in in Davos, Switzerland.
Participants at the 2018 Anchorage Arctic Research Day and North by North Festival network during the evening reception in the Anchorage Museum.  Photo courtesy of Institute of the North.
The 2018 Anchorage Arctic Research Day was attended by over 100 participants from government, corporate, academic, not-for-profit, and Indigenous groups engaged with Arctic research. The event fostered new connections and collaborations among the broad array of organizations.

U.S. Arctic Research Commission

Production facilities at the Red Dog Mine located in northwestern Alaska, in the Western Brooks Range, approximately 82 miles north of Kotzebue and 46 miles inland from the coast of the Chukchi Sea, on land owned by NANA Regional Corporation. Photo courtesy of John Farrell.
An update from the USARC include details about the public meeting scheduled for 5-7 September in northwestern Alaska; information about the upcoming Arctic Science Ministerial scheduled for 26 October 2018, in Berlin, Germany; and the development of USARC's "Report on the Goals and Objectives for Arctic Research 2019-2020."

A Note From the ARCUS Executive Director

Scholars, Rosemary Ahtuanguarak (left) and Theresa Arevgaq John (right) meeting with Senator Lisa Murkowksi in her office. Photo courtesy of Robert Rich.
A pilot program, "Empowering Arctic Indigenous Scholarship and Making Connections," has been recently organized by ARCUS and the Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska to begin bridging the significant gaps in communication, culture, connections, and knowledge systems between remote Arctic villages and policy-makers in the nation's capital. ARCUS Executive Director Bob Rich reflects on the recent trip, supported by the pilot program, that two outstanding scholars made to Washington, D.C.

A Note from the ARCUS President

Audrey Taylor
ARCUS Board President, Audrey Taylor, shares comments on the current trends in Arctic research and the ongoing strategic planning effort at ARCUS to stay on top of these trends as part of the organization's mission to connect and support the Arctic research community.

From the ARCUS Board

Charlene Stern and her son.
As an Indigenous researcher, ARCUS Board Member Charlene Stern, is passionate about changing the paradigm of Arctic research to be more responsive to the needs of Indigenous communities. She believes that ARCUS has an opportunity to become a leader in helping to elevate the voices of Indigenous peoples in research.
Diane Hirshberg
ARCUS Board Member Diane Hirshberg is interested in understanding how both institutional and non-institutional education systems can support sustainable development in the Arctic. She views ARCUS' goal of connecting Alaska's Arctic communities and Arctic researchers as crucial to ensuring that Arctic research addresses the challenges facing Arctic communities.


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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Executive Director: Dr. Robert Rich

Editors: Betsy Turner-Bogren, Stacey Stoudt, Lisa Sheffield Guy, Brit Myers, and Helen Wiggins

Contributors: R. D. Crain, R. Delgado, J. Farrell, B. Grassi , M. Holmes, D. Hirshberg, B. P. Kelly, D. McGlinchey, R. Rich, J. Rohde, S. Starkweather, C. Stern, K. Tape, A. Taylor, B. Turner-Bogren, X. Zhangr

Witness the Arctic is published by the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS), a nonprofit organization that advances Arctic research and education. Witness the Arctic is funded through a Cooperative Agreement with the National Science Foundation (PLR-1304316). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.