Witness the Arctic

Volume 25
Number 1
30 June 2021

ARCUS Member Highlight

UArctic Logo
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.

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 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.

Arctic Social Sciences Program

Figure 1. Screenshot of the first four questions in the polar Kahoot! of the Climate Challenge (Turrin et al., 2019). Each question has an accompanying image. Sometimes the image provides information relevant to answering the question. Answers are hidden in this image.
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.
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.

Data Management

Figure 1. A custom data portal for the Navigating the New Arctic (NNA) project focused on building the Permafrost Discovery Gateway, showing an interactive global map with permafrost temperature values from Obu et al. (2019). Future versions of the portal system will support additional custom visualizations, embedded interactive maps, and embedded analysis applications.
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.

Science News

Northern lights over the community of Shishmaref in spring 2021. Image courtesy of Kaare Sikuaq Erickson.
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.
Figure 1. A simulated red dye tracer released from the Beaufort Gyre in the Arctic Ocean (center top) shows freshwater transport through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, along Baffin Island to the western Labrador Sea, off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, where it reduces surface salinity. At the lower left is Newfoundland (triangular landmass) surrounded by orange color representing fresher water, with Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence occupied by weaker freshening. Image courtesy of Francesca Samsel an
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.

Science Education News

PolarTREC Logo
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.

National Science Foundation News

NSF Logo
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.

Interagency News

DoD Logo
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.

U.S. Arctic Research Commission

Figure 1. Arctic Sustainable Energy Research Conference logo. Image courtesy of USARC.
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.

International News

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.


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.


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.

Subscribe to the Witness the Arctic RSS Feed RSS Feed

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@arcus.org
  • www.arcus.org

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.