Witness the Arctic

Volume 25
Number 1
30 June 2021

ARCUS Member Highlight

University of Arctic (UArctic)—20 Years of Cooperation in Education, Research, and Knowledge Sharing

The University of the Arctic (UArctic) is a network of over 230 universities, colleges, research institutes, and other organizations concerned with education and research in and about the North. UArctic builds and strengthens collective resources and infrastructures that enable member institutions to better serve their constituents and their regions. Through cooperation in education, research, and outreach UArctic enhances human capacity in the North, promotes viable communities and sustainable economies, and forges global partnerships.

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Arctic System Science Program

SIPN2 News

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 the 2021 June Sea Ice Outlook (SIO) Report that provided 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 and a SIO Contributors Forum in which international participants shared information about sea-ice forecast methods, discuss related challenges, and identify activities and products that could advance forecasting skill. An upcoming webinar will provide an overview of a newly developed dynamical seasonal prediction system and its performance in predicting regional Arctic sea-ice conditions.

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U.S. Arctic Research Commission

Highlights from USARC's Arctic Sustainable Energy Research Conference

The US Arctic Research Commission (USARC) hosted the Arctic Sustainable Energy Research Conference 20–22 April 2021. The conference, held online, had a strong emphasis on "energy equity" and approaches to expand the inclusion and participation of individuals in underserved communities in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and decision-making.

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Science News

Beaufort Gyre Freshwater: Understanding how a Release of the Largest Arctic Ocean Freshwater Reservoir Could Impact the North Atlantic

Researchers on a collaborative project entitled, "Arctic Freshwater Pathways and their Impact on North Atlantic Deep Water Formation in a Hierarchy of Models," are investigating freshwater pathways—both oceanic and ice—between the Arctic and subpolar North Atlantic. The team has been focusing on the Beaufort Sea, the Arctic Ocean's largest freshwater reservoir, which has increased its freshwater content by 40% over the last two decades.

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“Proper Engagement” in Arctic Research

What does "proper engagement" between Arctic researchers and Indigenous communities in mean in 2021? With all the uncertainties surrounding Arctic research in the past year, it is vital that we remember some particularly important guidelines identified in the five core values of accountability, effective communication, respect for Indigenous Knowledge and Cultures, established and sustained relationships, and responsible environmental stewardship.

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Science Education News

PolarTREC has a Teacher in the Field!

PolarTREC announces support of 2021 PolarTREC teacher expeditions. Liza Backman, from Brooklyn, New York, spent 14 days in May quarantining in Fairbanks, Alaska before joining her research team studying the phenology and vegetation in the warming Arctic at Toolik Field Station. In September, Jon Pazol, is anticipated to head to Norway to board a ship-based expedition as part of the Nansen and Amundsen Basins Observational System program. PolarTREC alumni, Mark Goldner, will report from the High Arctic Change 2021 expedition supported by National Geographic.

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National Science Foundation News

NSF Issues Dear Colleague Letter on Efforts to Improve the Inclusion of Local and Indigenous Voices in Arctic Research

In a recent Dear Colleague Letter, NSF has outlined immediate actions being taken to support indigenous individuals and organizations. NSF has revised and clarified the Arctic Research Opportunities (NSF 21-526) and Navigating the New Arctic (NNA; NSF 21-524) to highlight ethical conduct of research in the Arctic. The updated solicitations also provide guidance on how to build true collaborations with local and Indigenous peoples in NSF-funded research and education.

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International News

The International Arctic Science Committee: Supporting Pan-Arctic Research

The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) new website is designed to connect scientists across international, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries and connecting those who do research with those who seek the outcomes of that research. Updated informationabout IASC organized meetings, its five Working Groups, reports, and other activities are summarized in this article.

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Interagency News

Department of Defense Announces Establishment of Arctic Regional Center

Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, has announced the establishment of a new Department of Defense Regional Center, the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies. Defense Department Regional Centers are international academic venues for bilateral and multilateral research, communication, and training with the goal of building strong, sustainable international networks of security leaders.

The significance of the inclusion of climate change in the establishment of the center is noted in a perspective from Marisol Maddox, Arctic Analyst at the Wilson Center's Polar Institute.

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Data Management

Supporting Data Management Early in the Research Cycle: New Directions for the Arctic Data Center

Since 2016, the Arctic Data Center has preserved the work of over 2900 researchers in over 6400 individual datasets. The recent NSF award will allow the Center to increase capabilities in a number of critical areas and enable researchers to create branded portals that provide a convenient, readily customized way to communicate their research to the broader community.

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Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook 2021: Alaska Native Sea Ice Experts Share their Observations of Spring in the Bering Sea

The Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO), a resource for Alaska Native subsistence hunters, coastal communities, and others interested in sea ice and walrus, provides weekly reports during the spring sea-ice season with information on weather and sea ice conditions relevant to walrus in the northern Bering Sea and southern Chukchi Sea regions of Alaska. The Outlooks are produced with information on weather and sea ice conditions provided by the National Weather Service - Alaska Region and Alaska Native sea ice experts. The 2021 SIWO season began on Friday, 26 March and ended on Friday, 18 June.

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Arctic Social Sciences Program

The Arctic Council and Gender Equality – A Milestone Report on Gender Equality in the Arctic Published

The "Pan-Arctic Report: Gender Equality in the Arctic" is a part of an international collaborative project under the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Group on Gender Equality in the Arctic (GEA) dating back to 2013. The purpose of the GEA project is to raise visibility and understanding of the importance of gender issues in the Arctic, to identify priorities and concrete strategies for increased diversity and gender balance in policy and decision-making processes, and to provide information to facilitate sustainable policy making for the future.

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What do US Students Know about the Polar Regions?

Through the Polar Learning and Responding Climate Change Education Partnership, researchers created the polar quiz Kahoot! as part of a series of Climate Challenges for education and engagement. At least three teachers hosted the quiz in each of the 50 US states and Washington, DC., demonstrating that US teachers are interested in including polar content in their classrooms. The Kahoot! game-based player response system records which state each response comes from, so the researchers have a glimpse of regional variations in student polar knowledge.

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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

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Executive Director: Helen Wiggins

Editors: Betsy Turner-Bogren and Lisa Sheffield Guy

Contributors: H. Ó. Ágústsson, A. E. Budden, W. Cheng, S. Eckert, K. S. Erickson, J. Fahnestock, L. Hamilton, M. B. Jones, J. Lai, K. Latola, C. A. Lloyd, M. Maddox, C. Narveson, E. Eir Oddsdóttir, S. Pfirman, C. Rosa, F. Scarpa, L. Sheffield Guy, M. Steele, B. Turner-Bogren, M. Turrin, J. Warburton, W. Weijer, J. Zhang

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 (OPP-1927894). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.