Polar News

News from a variety of sources dealing with polar related topics. Many thanks to APECS members for contributing to this shared resources! You can add these articles as a RSS feed in your favorite reader.

ScienceDaily (July 12, 2012)

The continent of Antarctica is at risk from human activities and other forces, and environmental management is needed to protect the planet's last great wilderness area, says an international team of researchers, including a Texas A&M University oceanographer, in a paper published in the current issue of Science magazine.

Mahlon "Chuck" Kennicutt II, professor of oceanography who has conducted research in the area for more than 25 years, says Antarctica faces growing threats from global warming, loss of sea ice and landed ice, increased tourism, over-fishing in the region, pollution and invasive species creeping into the area. One of the longer-term concerns that may present the greatest threat overall is the potential for oil, gas and mineral exploitation on the continent and in the surrounding ocean, the authors note.

Read more here: 


The July SEARCH Sea Ice Outlook reports are now available! The Pan-Arctic Summary, Full Pan-Arctic Outlook, and Regional Outlook are available at: http://www.arcus.org/search/seaiceoutlook/2012/july.

With 21 responses for the Pan-Arctic Outlook, the July Sea Ice Outlook projects a September 2012 arctic sea extent median value of 4.6 million square kilometers. The consensus is for continued low values of September sea ice extent. It is important to note for context that the estimates are well below the 1979-2007 September mean of 6.7 million square kilometers. The quartiles for July are 4.2 and 4.7 million square kilometers, a rather narrow range given that the uncertainty of individual estimates are on the order of 0.5 million square kilometers. This is also a narrower range than last year, which was 4.0 to 5.5. The July Outlook is generally similar to the June Outlook; the July median is higher by 0.2 million square kilometers than the June estimate, but the quartiles are similar.

Just after the June Outlook was completed (based on May data), arctic sea ice extent briefly set record daily rates of loss. In June we saw the second-most cumulative loss in the satellite record since 1979,
behind the record minimum extent for June in 2010. We also saw cases of early melt in some regions. The culprit for the rapid sea ice loss in early June was again the presence of the Arctic Dipole (AD) pressure pattern, but the pattern shifted towards the end of the month and ice loss slowed.

In addition to the Pan-Arctic Outlooks, there were five contributions to the July Regional Outlook report. The regional outlooks shed light on the uncertainties associated with the estimates in the Pan-Arctic
Outlook by providing more detail at the regional scale, including the Northwest Passage and Hudson Bay/Hudson Strait shipping routes, Beaufort/Chukchi Seas, the Canadian Archipelago/Nares Strait, and
Barents/Greenland Seas.

The SEARCH Sea Ice Outlook produces monthly reports throughout the summer that synthesize projections of the expected sea ice minimum, at both pan-arctic and regional scales.

For background on the Sea Ice Outlook, see the main Outlook website at: http://www.arcus.org/search/seaiceoutlook/index.php.

Or contact:
Helen Wiggins, SEARCH Project Office, ARCUS
Email: helen@arcus.org

Article by Andrew Freedman on Climate Central


The Greenland ice sheet is poised for another record melt this year, and is approaching a "tipping point" into a new and more dangerous melt regime in which the summer melt area covers the entire land mass, according to new findings from polar researchers. 

The ice sheet is the focus of scientific research because its fate has huge implications for global sea levels, which are already rising as ice sheets melt and the ocean warms, exposing coastal locations to greater damage from storm surge-related flooding.

To read on please follow this link.

July is Arctic Science month!  
PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating) teachers from all over the United States are headed out with polar researchers across the Arctic. The teachers will be spending anywhere from 4 –8 weeks learning about the Arctic and in particular getting hands-on science experience.  They will be sharing their amazing experiences through blogs, photos, and interactive, real-time "PolarConnect" events!  If you have a question, you can post it on the Ask the Team forum and get it answered by scientists or the teacher.  
Don't miss this incredible opportunity to learn more about the amazing science being conducted in the Arctic!  All this and more can be found through the website at http://www.polartrec.com or we can be reached at info@polartrec.com
Check out all these upcoming expeditions:

Read more: Upcoming Arctic Expeditions Through PolarTREC!

The Ocean Studies Board of the U.S. National Research Council (NRC) is soliciting nominations for individuals to serve on its new study committee, Responding to Oil Spills in Arctic Environments, co-led by the Polar Research Board and the Transportation Research Board.

Read more: Call for Nominations - NRC Responding to Oil Spills in Arctic Environments

Polar Educators International (PEI) announces the establishment of a formal international professional network for those that educate in, for, and about the polar regions.

Membership is open to everyone in the polar science and science education communities. The founding members come from polar and non-polar nations such as Belgium, the United Kingdom, India, Italy, the United States, Canada, Norway, and Portugal. The new group draws together museums, schools, science centers, formal and informal education, expeditions, NGOs, companies, and governmental and nonprofit organizations. Working across national, disciplinary, and age boundaries, PEI wants to improve science education for the next generation of policymakers, entrepreneurs, explorers, citizen scientists, journalists, and educators.

The new group, which consists of more than 200 leading educators and scientists, will develop innovative teaching resources and practices designed to bring the importance of the polar regions closer to home. We intend to excite students about learning and about their planet, and thereby change the terms of debate, and the framework of education, to rekindle student and public engagement with global environmental changes.

The PEI Steering Committee is currently doing strategic planning, planning for upcoming conference and polar events, developing a formal web presence, and building the network of polar educators and scientists.

For further information or to become a member, please email: polareducators@gmail.com.

Or ask to join the group's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/groups/247660677828.

Carbon stored in Arctic tundra could be released into the atmosphere by new trees growing in the warmer region, exacerbating climate change, scientists have revealed. The Arctic is getting greener as plant growth increases in response to a warmer climate. This greater plant growth means more carbon is stored in the increasing biomass, so it was previously thought the greening would result in more carbon dioxide being taken up from the atmosphere, thus helping to reduce the rate of global warming.

However, research published in Nature Climate Change, shows that, by stimulating decomposition rates in soils, the expansion of forest into tundra in arctic Sweden could result in the release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Read more

The Polar Libraries Colloquy is pleased to announce the winner of the William Mills Prize for Non-Fiction Polar: Arctic Eden: journeys through the changing high Arctic, published in Vancouver by Greystone Books, David Suzuki Foundation, c2010.

The honour was announced at an awards ceremony on June 13, 2012 in Boulder, Colorado, USA at the group’s biannual conference. The book prize honours the best Arctic or Antarctic non-fiction book published throughout the world. The prize consists of a $300 US award, certificates for the author and publisher, and the right to use the William Mills Prize logo when advertising the winning book. The prize was first awarded in 2006.

Read more: 2012 Mills Prize Award


Information security is a high priority for the federal government. The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA,
http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SMA/fisma/index.html) is the relevant policy setting standards for the agencies. The Division of Arctic Sciences is working with the IT security arm of the U.S. Navy known as the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) to implement the appropriate level of IT security and risk management for cyber infrastructure provided by the Division of Arctic Sciences.

The personnel below make up the Arctic Information Assurance (IA) Team, and have visited several field sites in Greenland and Alaska and continue to work with contractors like CH2M HILL Polar Services to ensure FISMA compliance. This summer, personnel from the SPAWAR Office of Polar Programs (SOPP) headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina will continue to make visits to relevant groups providing cyber infrastructure for the Arctic, and will be leading an Arctic Program Security Working Group to assist in security policy implementation and IA Awareness training. SPAWAR personnel working on Arctic IA include contractors from Booz-Allen Hamilton (BAH). This group also supports the U.S. Antarctic Program.

       - Jack Buchanan, SPAWAR Office of Polar Programs (SOPP) Program Manager
       - Sarah Wolfe, BAH SOPP Security Program Manager
       - Heather Fiebing, BAH Arctic Information Security Lead
       - Dallas Jordan, BAH Arctic Technical Security Lead

NSF is trying to make the arctic research community more aware of these efforts to manage risks to the IT infrastructure, and asks that people share this information with others. To engage the broader community of arctic researchers in the Arctic IA effort, the first edition of the Arctic Sciences Program Information Security Newsletter has been made available on the NSF website, at:

The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC), which consists of principals from 13 agencies, departments, and offices across the federal government, is charged with developing five-year plans for federally sponsored research in the region. For the years 2013 to 2017, the IARPC identified seven over-arching categories to form the basis of a national policy for arctic research and that will especially benefit from interagency collaboration. They are:

       1. Sea ice and marine ecosystem studies
       2. Terrestrial ecosystem studies
       3. Atmospheric studies of surface heat, energy, and mass balances
       4. Observing systems
       5. Regional climate models
       6. Adaptation tools for sustaining communities
       7. Human health studies

Categories were chosen based on broad scientific consensus that rapid changes in climate are altering ice and snow cover with consequences for arctic ecosystems, indigenous societies, and global climate. The research aims to prompt solutions based on sound research discovered and implemented by multiple efforts. This plan does not include all research conducted by federal agencies. Many important priority investigations are and will continue to be conducted within individual agencies or other interagency collaborations.

Comments may be submitted through Friday, 22 June 2012, 11:59 EST, by email (agraefe@arctic.gov; include "IARPC FIVE-YEAR PLAN COMMENT" in the subject line) or hard copy:

       Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC)
       c/o Arctic Sciences Division
       National Science Foundation
       Suite 755S
       4201 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22230
       Attention: "Linda Izzard, IARPC FIVE-YEAR PLAN COMMENT"

To download the full plan, please go to: http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/arctic/iarpc/arc_res_plan_index.jsp.

Early-Release Data on Ice Thickness, Snow Depth, and Ice Characteristics

A new webpage, developed through the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH), provides access to early-release datasets on ice thickness, snow depth, and ice characteristics collected in March/April of 2012 in the North American Arctic. The webpage is available at: http://www.arcus.org/search/seaiceoutlook/ice-thickness-data.

Data were obtained by different projects, centering around the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Operation IceBridge survey flights with key contributions from National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded activities of the interagency Arctic Observing Network (AON).

Read more: New Online Resource Available

The June SEARCH Sea Ice Outlook reports are now available! The Pan-Arctic Summary, Full Pan-Arctic Outlook, and Regional Outlook are available at: http://www.arcus.org/search/seaiceoutlook/2012/june.

With 19 responses for the Pan-Arctic Outlook, the June Sea Ice Outlook projects a September 2012 arctic sea extent median value of 4.4 million square kilometers, with quartiles of 4.3 and 4.7 million square kilometers. This compares to observed September values of 4.6 in 2011, 4.9 in 2010, and 5.4 in 2009. Both the 2012 quartile values and the range (4.1 to 4.9) are quite narrow. The 2012 June Outlook differs from all previous Outlooks in that there are no projections of extent greater than 5.0. It is always important to note for context that all 2012 estimates are well below the 1979-2007 September mean of 6.7 million square kilometers.

Read more: 2012 Sea Ice Outlook: June Reports Available


The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is currently accepting abstract submissions for the 2012 Fall Meeting. The meeting will be held 3-7 December 2012 in San Francisco, California.

Abstracts must focus on scientific results or their application. Following the abstract deadline, submitted papers may be placed in a
different, more appropriate session than the one to which it was submitted. Final decisions regarding placement of individual papers and sessions rests with the Program Committee.

A flat fee of $60 ($30 for students) will be charged for each regular submission. This fee is non-refundable, and does not register the author for the meeting. Registration will for the meeting will open in mid-July.

Abstract submission deadline: Wednesday, 8 August 2012.

For further details on the abstract submission process, please go to: http://agu-fm12.abstractcentral.com/.

For additional information on the AGU Fall Meeting, please go to: http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2012/.

A head of cabbage for $20. Fifteen bucks for a small bag of apples.

A case of ginger ale: $82.

Fed up and frustrated by sky-high food prices and concerned over widespread hunger in their communities, thousands of Inuit have spent weeks posting pictures and price tags from their local grocery stores to a Facebook site called Feed My Family.

Read more

A new open-access book on "The Arctic Council: Its Place in the Future of Arctic Governance", edited by Thomas S. Axworthy, Timo Koivurova and Waliul Hasanat and published by the Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation is now available. Several APECS members have contributed articles to this publication and presented them during the Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program conference January 17-18, 2012 in Toronto.

The whole book or individual articles can be downloaded here


As the news that carbon dioxide levels in atmosphere in the Arctic are now over 400 parts per million, two new documentary films stress the local repercussions of continued burning of fossil fuels and deforestation around the globe.  The films focus on the native villages of Savoonga and Shaktoolik in Alaska and are now available through the Alaskans Sharing Indigenous Knowledge (AKSIK) project website (http://aksik.org).  The two films focus on the threats that climate change has on these villages.

The film entitled AKSIK “shares the native voices” that first-time filmmaker Jonathan Ignatowski “gleaned from the island” while working on the AKSIK project in Savoonga, located on St. Lawrence Island.   The film “details the culture and specific aspects of the culture, such as hunting practices that are impacted by the climate change.”  Ignatowski hopes the film serves “as a toolfor advocacy for subsistence cultures in the Arctic” and that “the film attracts an audience and starts a dialogue” about the implications of not acting on climate change.

Mera Kenney highlights the threats increasingly violent storms have on Shaktoolik, Alaska in her film entitled Silageetuq.  The film features two women, Carole Sookiayak and Tonia Sagoonick, from the village who describe the imminent threat these storms have on their survival.  The film also explores the needs of the village, mainly an evacuation road and evacuation center so the villagers can escape the next storm.  According to Kenney, “Without an evacuation road, the Inupiat community who call Shaktoolik home is at greatrisk of perishing during the next fall storm.”   “This short film was inspired,” she says, “by a walk along the Bering Sea coast with Carole Sookiayak.  On that walk I was deeply moved by the resilience and perseverance of their community despite the looming threat of bigger and more severe storms, and I felt an obligation to share the struggle of our fellow human beings.”  

 Taken together, the films are part of the larger AKSIK project, a multi-year science and advocacy project headed up by Jon Rosales, Ph.D. of St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.  AKSIK documents localknowledge of climate change in Shaktoolik and Savoonga and their efforts toadapt to these changes.  The project also highlights the needs of the communities and communicates these needs via the project website at aksik.org.  Rosales hopes the project “brings attention to the needs of these communities who receive no media attention by showing a human face of climate change on the website and prods decision makers to act” on this crisis.  The two films capture this sentiment, and Kenney hopes “that if people with political power see their films, then perhaps a crisis will be averted before something tragic happens.”

Announcement of a Special Issue of the Journal of Hydrology New Zealand on: "Snow and Ice research"

Papers are invited for a special topic issue of the Journal of Hydrology New Zealand entitled "Snow and Ice research".

This special issue is open to submissions of papers related to snow and ice research, with a focus on the Australasia/Antarctic regions. Studies are welcomed on ice in any of its forms.

All submissions will be considered but some example topics are: snow and glacier hydrology; snow and ice resource assessments; relationships of snow and ice to climate (past, present and future); snow and ice processes; glacier mass balance; snow and ice monitoring/measuring techniques; snow and ice modelling efforts.

For consideration of inclusion in the special issue please email a title, author list and an indicative abstract to Tim Kerr (Tim.Kerr at NIWA.co.nz) by 21st August 2012.

Submitted papers should follow the guidelines set out on http://www.hydrologynz.org.nz/journal.php except that only electronic submissions will be accepted, and they should be sent to Tim.Kerr at

The submission deadline is 1st February 2013.

The intention is to have the issue completed in the second half of 2013.

Non members of the NZ Hydrological Society will have an opportunity to purchase a copy of the special issue.

All articles will be typeset at no cost to the author.

Tim Kerr (Tim.Kerr at NIWA.co.nz) will coordinate the editing of the
special issue. Please direct all enquiries regarding this special issue
to him.

This special issue is an initiative of the NZ Snow and Ice Research Group (http://www.sirg.org.nz), in collaboration with the NZ Hydrological Society (http://www.hydrologynz.org.nz).


Title/author/abstract submission: 21st August 2012

Paper submission : 1st February 2013

NOAA: Carbon dioxide levels reach milestone at Arctic sites

NOAA cooperative measurements in remote, northern sites hit greenhouse gas milestone in April

May 31, 2012

Contact: Katy Human, 303-497-4747 

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Barrow, Alaska, reached 400 parts per million (ppm) this spring, according to NOAA measurements, the first time a monthly average measurement for the greenhouse gas attained the 400 ppm mark in a remote location.

Carbon dioxide (CO2), emitted by fossil fuel combustion and other human activities, is the most significant greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.

“The northern sites in our monitoring network tell us what is coming soon to the globe as a whole,” said Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist with NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo. “We will likely see global average CO2 concentrations reach 400 ppm about 2016.”


The purpose of this questionnaire is to solicit input to inform the development of the science and technology (and supporting) infrastructure at the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) that will be built in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. The information compiled from this exercise will inform the design of the infrastructure of the Station. Individual responses will remain confidential and only collated information will be distributed.

CHARS will provide a year-round, world-class hub for science and technology activities in Canada's North, complementing and anchoring the existing network of smaller regional facilities. The science and technology undertaken by CHARS will be interdisciplinary and will include natural and physical sciences, economic and social sciences, health and life sciences, the humanities as well as engineering and technology development. It will integrate across scientific processes and across scales. Activities may include monitoring and surveillance; research, modelling and prediction; technology development and transfer; knowledge application; training, education and outreach as well as provision of logistics services.

The Station will engage CHARS staff as well as Northerners, industry personnel, academics and government and international researchers in its science and technology activities.

To fill out a questionnaire please go to the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/charsinfrastructurequestionnaire

For further information on CHARS please visit: www.science.gc.ca/CHARS

The questionnaire will remain open until June 7, 2012.

For questions on CHARS or the questionnaire contact Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's Arctic Science Policy Directorate at CHARS-SRCEA@aadnc-aandc.gc.ca

The Ice Drilling Program Office (IDPO) of the U.S. Ice Drilling Program announces a request for community input and comments on the Long Range Science Plan. The deadline for contributions is Friday, 8 June 2012.

The draft 2012 Long Range Science Plan has been updated to reflect the outcomes from the 2012 Science Advisory Board (SAB) meeting. The document is meant to be the forward planning path for the Ice Drilling Program sciences. The IDPO requests that members of the ice coring and drilling community take the time to review the working draft and send input via email (icedrill@dartmouth.edu). IDPO will coordinate review of the input by the SAB for incorporation into the final document.

Submission deadline: Friday, 8 June 2012.

To download the working draft, please visit: http://icedrill.org/scientists/scientists.shtml#scienceplan.

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