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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18726.
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THE ARCTIC

IN THE ANTHROPOCENE

EMERGING RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Committee on Emerging Research Questions in the Arctic

Polar Research Board

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
                          OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.

www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18726.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS   •   500 Fifth Street, NW   •   Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, the Department of Energy under award number DE-SC0008724; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under award number NNX13A014G; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under award number WC133R-11-CQ-0048, TO#4; the National Science Foundation under award number ARC-1243485; and the Smithsonian Institution under award number 12-PO-590-0000254005. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsoring agencies or any of their sub agencies.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-30183-1
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-30183-1
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014944501

Additional copies of this report are available for sale from The National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; Internet, http://www.nap.edu.

Copyright 2014 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Cover image courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18726.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18726.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18726.
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COMMITTEE ON EMERGING RESEARCH QUESTIONS IN THE ARCTIC

HENRY P. HUNTINGTON (Co-Chair), The Pew Charitable Trusts, Eagle River, Alaska

STEPHANIE PFIRMAN (Co-Chair), Barnard College, Columbia University, New York, New York

CARIN ASHJIAN, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts

LAURA BOURGEAU-CHAVEZ, Michigan Technological University, Ann Arbor, Michigan

JENNIFER A. FRANCIS, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

SVEN HAAKANSON, University of Washington, Seattle

ROBERT HAWLEY, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

TAQULIK HEPA, North Slope Borough, Barrow, Alaska

DAVID HIK, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta

LARRY HINZMAN, University of Alaska Fairbanks

AMANDA LYNCH, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

A. MICHAEL MACRANDER, Shell Alaska, Anchorage

GIFFORD H. MILLER, University of Colorado Boulder

KATE MORAN, Ocean Networks Canada, Victoria, British Columbia

ELLEN S. MOSLEY-THOMPSON (NAS), The Ohio State University, Columbus

SAMUEL B. MUKASA, University of New Hampshire, Durham

TOM WEINGARTNER, University of Alaska Fairbanks

NRC Staff

MAGGIE WALSER, Co-Study Director

LAUREN EVERETT, Co-Study Director

LARA HENRY, Christine Mirzayan Fellow

ELIZABETH FINKELMAN, Senior Program Assistant

RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator

SHELLY FREELAND, Senior Program Assistant

ROB GREENWAY, Program Associate

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18726.
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POLAR RESEARCH BOARD

JAMES C. WHITE (Chair), University of Colorado Boulder

WALEED ABDALATI, University of Colorado Boulder

SRIDHAR ANANDAKRISHNAN, Pennsylvania State University, University Park

JULIE BRIGHAM-GRETTE, University of Massachusetts Amherst

JOHN CASSANO, University of Colorado Boulder

JENNIFER A. FRANCIS, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

EILEEN E. HOFMANN, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia

ELLEN S. MOSLEY-THOMPSON, The Ohio State University, Columbus

GEORGE B. NEWTON, QinetiQ North America, Marstons Mills, Massachusetts

RAFE POMERANCE, Independent Consultant

CARYN REA, ConocoPhillips, Anchorage, Alaska

GAIUS R. SHAVER, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

KATEY WALTER ANTHONY, University of Alaska Fairbanks

ALLAN T. WEATHERWAX, Siena College, Loudonville, New York

Ex-Officio:

LARRY HINZMAN, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

TERRY WILSON, Ohio State University, Columbus

DENEB KARENTZ, University of San Francisco, California

NRC Staff

AMANDA STAUDT, Board Director

LAURIE GELLER, Program Director

MAGGIE WALSER, Senior Program Officer

LAUREN EVERETT, Associate Program Officer

LARA HENRY, Christine Mirzayan Fellow

AMANDA PURCELL, Research and Financial Associate

RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator

ROB GREENWAY, Program Associate

SHELLY FREELAND, Senior Program Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18726.
×

Preface

This report comes at a unique time in human history. Never before has an ocean opened up before our eyes, awakening many to the importance and relevance of the far north. Because of the Arctic’s new strategic and economic potential, most of the Arctic countries—the United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, and Russia—have produced new or updated national Arctic plans within the past year. These countries include some of the world’s largest and strongest economies. Several of the national plans are oriented toward development and increased empowerment of northern populations, as countries grapple with the prospect of claiming newly accessible mineral and energy resources. Internationally, the opening of the Arctic has raised issues of sovereignty and preparedness and spurred political realignment. Recently, the European Command1 identified the Arctic as a security concern. The non-Arctic countries of China, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea were accepted as observers by the Arctic Council2 in 2013, joining France, Spain, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The United States will assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015.

The Arctic itself is unique. The seasonal shifts from icy white in winter to browns, greens, and blues in summer are more extreme than anywhere else on Earth as the snow melts on land and the sea ice retreats in the ocean. The Arctic Ocean is surrounded by land, with narrow passages allowing interchange between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. Its hydrology is subject to more terrestrial influence than is any other ocean’s, and it receives freshwater from some of the largest rivers on Earth, whose watersheds include much of North America and Asia. Some have called it the estuary for the rest of the world ocean. The nearly encircling, shallow continental shelves are dominated by national Exclusive Economic Zones; no other ocean has so much of its area so designated. The United States shares international borders with Russia and Canada in the Arctic.

Northern populations are unique in their relationship with the land, having thrived through some of the largest climate variations on Earth, ranging from the Ice Age, with mile-thick glaciers and frozen lands, to the warming, thawing, greening, glacial retreat, and urbanization of the Anthropocene. Resilient in the face of past changes, they face

_______________

1 See http://www.eucom.mil/.

2 See http://www.arctic-council.org.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18726.
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a complex suite of disruptions, dislocations, and opportunities in the years to come as all climate models project continued warming and loss of sea ice, on which many of their traditional practices and food sources depend. The need for actionable Arctic science has never been greater than it is today.

This report synthesizes the scientific community’s input on emerging research topics that concern the Arctic (i.e., those questions that we are only now able to ask or have a realistic prospect for studying). It especially considers topics that have been overlooked or underrepresented in current Arctic research. It also outlines opportunities and challenges in supporting new and existing research pathways and translating that research into practical information that can help guide management and policy decisions in the United States. The report is directed toward the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC),3 which represents 15 federal agencies and organizations with responsibilities in the Arctic. It is designed to address the urgency for understanding the rapidly changing Arctic by connecting the dots among future science opportunities and priorities, infrastructure needs, and collaboration opportunities at local, regional, and international levels.

In preparing this analysis, the committee heard from a broad spectrum of the scientific and stakeholder communities, and we thank everyone for their thoughts and perspectives (Appendix B). We also thank the over 300 anonymous participants in our community questionnaire (Appendix C). Special thanks go to Marc Meloche, David Scott, and Sandy Bianchini of the Canadian Polar Commission for hosting our committee meeting in Ottawa. On behalf of the entire study team, we also thank the sponsors who enabled the undertaking of this important analysis. Finally, this report would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of the National Research Council staff: Lauren Everett and Maggie Walser. We also thank Elizabeth Finkelman, Shelly Freeland, Rita Gaskins, and Rob Greenway for administrative and logistical support.

Stephanie Pfirman and Henry Huntington, Co-Chairs
Committee on Emerging Research Questions in the Arctic

_______________

3 IARPC member agencies/organizations include: the National Science Foundation; the Department of Commerce; the Department of Defense; the Department of State; the Department of Health and Human Services; the Department of Homeland Security; Office of Science and Technology Policy; the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Energy; the Department of the Interior; the Department of Transportation; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Smithsonian Institution; and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18726.
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Acknowledgments

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in their review of this report:

WALEED ABDALATI, University of Colorado Boulder

EDDY CARMACK, Institute of Ocean Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

F. STUART (TERRY) CHAPIN, University of Alaska Fairbanks

BYRON CRUMP, Oregon State University

GAIL FONDAHL, University of Northern British Columbia

DONALD PEROVICH, U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Dartmouth College

MARTIN ROBARDS, Wildlife Conservations Society

JULIENNE STROEVE, National Snow and Ice Data Center

ORAN YOUNG, University of California, Santa Barbara

TINGJUN ZHANG, National Snow and Ice Data Center

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by John Walsh, University of Alaska Fairbanks, appointed by the Division on Earth and Life Studies, who was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. The authoring committee also wishes to thank numerous individuals from a broad spectrum of the scientific and stakeholder communities (Appendix B). Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18726.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18726.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18726.
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How will climate change affect exchanges between the Arctic Ocean and subpolar basins?

How will Arctic change affect the long-range transport and persistence of biota?

How will changing societal connections between the Arctic and the rest of the world affect Arctic communities?

Managed Arctic

How will decreasing populations in rural villages and increasing urbanization affect Arctic peoples and societies?

Will local, regional, and international relations in the Arctic move toward cooperation or conflict?

How can 21st-century development in the Arctic occur without compromising the environment or indigenous cultures while still benefiting global and Arctic inhabitants?

How can we prepare forecasts and scenarios to meet emerging management needs?

What benefits and risks are presented by geoengineering and other large-scale technological interventions to prevent or reduce climate change and associated impacts in the Arctic?

Undetermined Arctic

Priority Setting

4   MEETING THE CHALLENGES

Enhancing Cooperation

Interagency

International

Interdisciplinary

Intersectoral

Cooperation through Social Media

Sustaining Long-Term Observations

Rationale for Long-Term Observations

Coordinating Long-Term Observation Efforts

Managing and Sharing Information

Preserving the Legacy of Research through Data Preservation and Dissemination

Creating a Culture of Data Preservation and Sharing

Infrastructure to Ensure Data Flows from Observation to Users, Stakeholders, and Archives

Data Visualization and Analysis

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18726.
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image

The Arctic

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Once ice-bound, difficult to access, and largely ignored by the rest of the world, the Arctic is now front and center in the midst of many important questions facing the world today. Our daily weather, what we eat, and coastal flooding are all interconnected with the future of the Arctic. The year 2012 was an astounding year for Arctic change. The summer sea ice volume smashed previous records, losing approximately 75 percent of its value since 1980 and half of its areal coverage. Multiple records were also broken when 97 percent of Greenland's surface experienced melt conditions in 2012, the largest melt extent in the satellite era. Receding ice caps in Arctic Canada are now exposing land surfaces that have been continuously ice covered for more than 40,000 years.

What happens in the Arctic has far-reaching implications around the world. Loss of snow and ice exacerbates climate change and is the largest contributor to expected global sea level rise during the next century. Ten percent of the world's fish catches comes from Arctic and sub-Arctic waters. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that up to 13 percent of the world's remaining oil reserves are in the Arctic. The geologic history of the Arctic may hold vital clues about massive volcanic eruptions and the consequent release of massive amount of coal fly ash that is thought to have caused mass extinctions in the distant past. How will these changes affect the rest of Earth? What research should we invest in to best understand this previously hidden land, manage impacts of change on Arctic communities, and cooperate with researchers from other nations?

The Arctic in the Anthropocene reviews research questions previously identified by Arctic researchers, and then highlights the new questions that have emerged in the wake of and expectation of further rapid Arctic change, as well as new capabilities to address them. This report is meant to guide future directions in U.S. Arctic research so that research is targeted on critical scientific and societal questions and conducted as effectively as possible. The Arctic in the Anthropocene identifies both a disciplinary and a cross-cutting research strategy for the next 10 to 20 years, and evaluates infrastructure needs and collaboration opportunities. The climate, biology, and society in the Arctic are changing in rapid, complex, and interactive ways. Understanding the Arctic system has never been more critical; thus, Arctic research has never been more important. This report will be a resource for institutions, funders, policy makers, and students. Written in an engaging style, The Arctic in the Anthropocene paints a picture of one of the last unknown places on this planet, and communicates the excitement and importance of the discoveries and challenges that lie ahead.

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