Witness the Arctic

Volume 24
Number 1
29 July 2020

ARCUS Member Highlight

Photo 1. Ribbon cutting over newly paved road in Elim, 2019. Photo courtesy of Davis Hovey.
Kawerak, Inc., an ARCUS member organization, is a regional consortium of federally recognized tribal governments in the Bering Strait. With programs ranging from education to transportation, and natural resource management to economic development, Kawerak seeks to improve the Region's social, economic, educational, cultural, and political conditions in alignment with its mission, "Advancing the capacity of our People and Tribes for the benefit of the region."

Arctic System Science Program

SIPN2 Logo
The Sea Ice Prediction Network–Phase 2 (SIPN2) is a network of US and international members working to advance research on the processes driving sea ice predictability, prediction products, and the communication of findings to interested stakeholders. Recent activities include town hall meetings, webinars, and report publications from the Sea Ice Outlook that provides an open process for those interested in Arctic sea ice to share ideas and predictions for Arctic ice extent, sea-ice probability, ice-free date, and other variables.

Arctic Natural Sciences Program

NNA Logo
The first Navigating the New Arctic (NNA) Investigators Meeting, held virtually 16–17 April 2020, was a cooperative effort among the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Office of Polar Programs, the NNA Working group at NSF, ARCUS, experts on Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge and working with Arctic communities, and NNA project investigators and team members.

Arctic Social Sciences Program

Figure 1. Map of historic Khanty and Mansi territory. Image courtesy of Waking the Bear: Understanding Circumpolar Bear Ceremonialism.
For centuries, Indigenous peoples across Eurasia and North American have maintained harmonious relations with bears with whom they share the world, and honor this relationship through ceremonies. A current NSF-funded project: "Waking the Bear," led by Andrew Wiget with Olga Balalaeva, explores the range of traditional practices. The project website describes the bear ceremonies of Siberian people, the Mansi and the Khanty through narrative, photos, videos, and audio recordings. The content is in both English and Russian.

Science News

Figure 1. The Beaufort Gyre Observing System and Joint Ocean Ice Study cruise track (left) in the Beaufort Sea and Canada Basin north of Alaska and Nunavut. Figure courtesy of Michael DeGrandpre.
Anthropogenic emissions have increased atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past 100 years leading to levels that are higher on average than the surface ocean. Air-sea exchange of carbon dioxide in the Arctic Ocean has been limited in the past because of extensive, perennial ice cover. The response of the carbon cycle to the changing physical conditions of the Arctic Ocean is complex and not readily predicted, but observations indicated that, while the Arctic Ocean has been a significant sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide, this will diminish in the coming years if sea-ice loss continues.

Science Education News

PolarTREC Logo
COVID-19 has had far-reaching impacts, and in April 2020 the decision was made to postpone the deployment of all the 2020 PolarTREC educators to both the Arctic and Antarctica until 2021. Despite the postponed deployments, ARCUS staff have continued working with all the teams with the intent on keeping the cohort engaged, expanding their outreach, and preparing for future deployments.

National Science Foundation News

Sethuraman Panchanathan
Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan was sworn in as the 15th Director of the National Science Foundation on 18 June 2020. Panchanathan has been a leader in science, engineering, and education for more than three decades. He has a distinguished career in both higher education and government, where he has advocated for knowledge enterprise development—advancing research, innovation, strategic partnerships, entrepreneurship, global development, and economic growth.
NSF Logo
News from NSF's Office of Polar Programs includes updates on guidelines for Arctic fieldwork, details about a virtual office hour scheduled for 5 August 2020, news of a new Arctic Research Support and Logistics contract, and summary biographies of new Arctic Sciences Section Program Managers.

Interagency News

Opening Doors Logo
The Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) convened a 6th Annual Conference titled "Opening Doors: Collaboration Across Knowledge Systems" on 19 May 2020. The conference promoted knowledge exchange between multidisciplinary early career scientists, science communicators, educators, and local community members in polar and alpine regions.
OAR Strategic Plan 2020–2026 Aims to Deliver NOAA's Future
The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) provides the research foundation for understanding the complex systems that support the planet. In response to OAR's changing operating landscape and the specific factors influencing the environmental science community, OAR has developed five strategies that will help deliver NOAA's future. These strategies support the delivery of OAR's goals and objectives, as well as the advancement of NOAA's science and technology focus areas.
AGU Strategic Plan for 2020
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has released their 2020 strategic plan, which includes three strategic goals, that will frame the work of the board, council, staff, and members in the coming years. The AGU staff, board, council, and broader community will work together to develop an implementation plan over the coming year.

A Note From the ARCUS Executive Director

Helen Wiggins
Executive Director, Helen Wiggins, highlights some of the ways ARCUS staff, Board, members, and collaborators have been working to advance Arctic research and education.

A Note from the ARCUS President

David Cairns
Board President, David Cairns, reflects on the valuable role ARCUS plays in supporting the Arctic research community and creating an environment where knowledge can be shared, innovation can be celebrated, and traditions maintained.

From the ARCUS Board

Pips Veazey
Board member Pips Veazey comments on the opportunity to work in a truly interdependent manner across the Arctic and collaborate with one another to find a vision for life that is sustainable and informed by people of the Arctic and our research communities. ARCUS is a key player in this quest and has the expertise and vision to bring people together to develop a shared understanding of our collective future.
Cheryl Rosa
Dr. Rosa's interest in serving on the ARCUS Board relates to her involvement in several of the the organization's mission goals: networking, communications, education, and research community support and facilitation of Arctic research. Through her work and experience at the US Arctic Research Commission (USARC) she has brought researchers, program managers, community members, and other stakeholders together to network, plan, communicate, and work towards common goals. She hopes her experience in creating these efficiencies and links will be a "value added" to ARCUS.


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: Helen Wiggins

Editors: Betsy Turner-Bogren and Lisa Sheffield Guy

Contributors: O. Balalaeva, D.Cairns, M. DeGrandpre, R. Delgado, T. Edillon, W. Evans, J. Fahnestock, C. Harris, R. Krishfield, J.-L. Menzel, B.Myers, G. Roldan, C. Rosa, D. Slingsby, M. Steele, M.L. Timmermans, B. Turner-Bogren, P. Veazey, J. Warburton, A. Wiget, H. V. Wiggins, B. Williams

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.