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.

Katherine Stewart and a team of researchers from University of Saskatchewan and Yukon College have created the Northern Biochar for Northern Remediation project exploring the uses of "biochar" or charcoal created through pyrolysis as an soil remediation product.  They received the first NSERC grant ever given to a northern school (Yukon College).  Unlike conventional fertilizers, biochar only requires one-time addition to soil.  Read full article at:


European Commission: "INTERACT, International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic, has brought most of the Arctic's research stations together. It enables them to share information, improve environmental observations, make data more accessible and collaborate on the development of new environmental monitoring technology. 

At the outset, 32 partners from 14 countries formed the consortium together with the Arctic Council's Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme and WWF Arctic. Since then, 12 new research stations have joined as observer stations, bringing 4 new countries into the consortium. INTERACT includes infrastructures throughout Alaska, Canada, Europe and northern Russia. "

Read the full article: http://ec.europa.eu/research/infrastructures/index_en.cfm?pg=success7 

INTERACT webpage: http://www.eu-interact.org/

The second edition of this intense, 10-day course organized by the University of Alaska at Fairbanks took place from June 10-20, immediately preceding the International Glaciological Society conference.  McCarthy is a small village about 10 hours southeast of Fairbanks, accessible only by a footbridge.  27 students spent their days with 9 instructors, attending lectures, completing exercises, developing group projects, and taking field excursions to the Kennicott Glacier.  Returning home after such a positive experience--filled with new knowledge, an expanded professional (and friend!) network, and magnificent landscapes--was bittersweet.  The Summer School was made possible by the following sponsors: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), University of Alaska at Fairbanks, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (CNSM), and International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG).

New article from Chown et al., in Science magazine. The authors determined that the major short-term threats to Antarctica included climate change impacts on marine systems, marine resource use, ocean acidification, invasive alien species, pollution, habitat alteration, and regulatory challenges within the Antarctic Treaty system.

Read the full arcticle here: 


Polar Field Services (PFS) in partnership with CH2M HILL Polar Services announce an arctic-themed image contest intended to generate material to populate a 2013 calendar.

To participate in this contest, please submit a photo to: comms@polarfield.com.

PFS will contact entrants whose images areselected.

Submission Deadline: Wednesday, 15 August 2012.

For further information about PFS, please go to:http://www.polarfield.com.

The Norwegian polar Institutes interactive Svalbard map have recently been updated with a 3D view.

Clicking the map button will literally add an extra dimension to the map! Along with the existing features such as the aerial photos, information on place names and in some places photographs this makes the map a useful tool when planning fieldwork on Svalbard.

The map can be found here: http://toposvalbard.npolar.no/

by Steve Killgallon 

A group of scientists and environmentalists are fighting to end fishing in Antarctica's Ross Sea

Read the full story here:



Volume 65, Number 2 

Journal of the Arctic Institute of North America (AINA)

The Arctic Institute of North America (AINA) announces publication of the June 2012 issue of the journal ARCTIC, Volume 65, Number 2. A non-profit membership organization and multidisciplinary research institute of the University of Calgary, AINA's mandate is to advance the study of the North American and circumpolar Arctic through the natural and social sciences, as well as the arts and humanities; and to acquire, preserve, and disseminate information on physical, environmental, and social conditions in the North. Created as a binational corporation in 1945, the Institute's United States Corporation is housed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

For information on becoming an AINA member and receiving the journal, please visit the Institute's website at: http://www.arctic.ucalgary.ca/. Members have the options of receiving ARCTIC in print, online, or both in print and online.

Read more: June 2012 Issue of the Journal ARCTIC Available


A new NSF-funded website entitled 'Climate Data Guide' is now available. It can be accessed at: https://climatedataguide.ucar.edu/.

The website is a source for information and advice on the strengths, limitations, and applications of climate data. It shares expertise and advice on datasets, including strengths and limitations from expert users. The Climate Data Guide facilitates access to many types of datasets and arranges them in convenient categories, such as data related to earth system model diagnostics, data from various satellite missions, and the numerous atmospheric reanalyses, to name a few. Over 3,000 unique monthly visitors from around the world make the Climate Data Guide a one-of-a-kind platform for increasing the visibility of climate data sets as well as studies assessing climate data. Users are from academia, government, and the private sector.

To be the best possible resource for the community, the Climate Data Guide depends upon contributions from data developers and users. Comments and perspectives on datasets or model evaluation strategies are encouraged and will be credited to the author. To provide feedback, please go to: http://climatedataguide.ucar.edu/contribute.

Suggestions and questions may be submitted to the website itself or emailed to: climatedataguide@cgd.ucar.edu.


New Report Available

A report released by the Dickey Center for International Understanding and the UArctic Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy (IACP) finds that rapidly changing health conditions in the Arctic, due in part to climate change and globalization, call for a dramatically new approach to research and delivery of services to improve the health and wellness in arctic communities.

Twenty-seven health experts met at Dartmouth in 2011 to tackle the critical health issues facing arctic communities and to recommend ways of combating these problems. They conclude that a focus on wellness and the resilience of northern communities is a more productive path to solutions than many traditional health care approaches.

Communities from the Canadian North to the Russian Arctic face a variety of health challenges ranging from the movement north of insect and water borne diseases as temperatures rise, the threat of environmental contaminants such as mercury, an increase in heart disease and obesity with a shift away from traditional foods, as well as the difficulty of providing health services to remote areas.

The report's recommendations include assuring that health research creates tangible benefits for communities as well as individuals, brings local and traditional knowledge into health practices, actively involves the community in making health research priorities, and focuses more on holistic practices that protect and sustain people rather than solely on health problems.

The report can be downloaded by clicking on the link in the right-hand sidebar at: http://iacp.dartmouth.edu/.

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:

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