few official channels (e.g., Belmont Forum25) through which program managers can communicate internationally to set common research goals. Removing these barriers to efficient international collaboration requires long-term, sustained commitments from national funding agencies, as well as the development of policies that serve the interests of both national funding agencies and the scientific community. An Arctic activity is forthcoming from the Belmont Forum, which is a welcome first step, but a long-term sustained program supporting international collaboration would yield many additional benefits.
Global leaders are beginning to recognize the importance of cooperation in the Arctic. For example, in August 2013, the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported that:
“Japan believes there is a strong need to conduct continuous monitoring and research in the Arctic, in particular, in connection with global climate change,” Hakubun Shimomura [minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology] continued. “In view of the fact that Russia is a country to which the largest territory in the Arctic belongs, we consider cooperation with it as absolutely necessary. In particular, we need to work together in the sphere of creating monitoring stations in the Arctic, the use of the icebreaker fleet, exchange of experts and the general expansion of research in this sphere.” The minister said that a regular meeting of the Japanese-Russian Joint Commission on Scientific and Technological Cooperation will be held in Tokyo this September. “It will exactly discuss further prospects for the development of interaction and cooperation between the two countries in this part of the world. …We plan to put forward a concrete proposal on Arctic research cooperation, in particular, with regard to cooperation in the sphere of observation and personnel exchange,” said the minister.
Change can be detected only by observations over time. The precision by which change can be measured depends on the consistency, frequency, and breadth of those observations. At present, there are relatively few consistent, frequent, spatially extensive datasets for the Arctic. Instead, we have a smattering of ad hoc stations, incomplete time series, and varying methods. The “Undetermined Arctic” section in
25 The Belmont Forum was established to overcome some funding challenges by advancing international collaboration in research through joint announcement of targeted programs: “(1) strengthening engagement between the research funding agencies and the academic research community as represented by ICSU and (2) improving coordination of early phase engagement on GCR strategies and priorities in order to improve co-design, co-alignment, and co-funding of major research programs (http://www.igfagcr.org/index.php/challenge).” “The Forum requires each Collaborative Research Action to address the Belmont Challenge:To deliver knowledge needed for action to avoid and adapt to detrimental environmental change including extreme hazardous events. Belmont further requires consideration of human and natural systems in each proposal, and a minimum of three nations involved in each project (http://www.climate-cryosphere.org/news/clic-news/521-update-on-international-research-funding-from-the-belmont-forum).”