The Arctic in the Anthropocene: a Report from the National Academy of Sciences

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Lauren M Everett, National Academy of Sciences, Polar Research Board, Washington, DC, United States, Henry P Huntington, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Eagle River, AK, United States and Stephanie L Pfirman, Barnard College, Closter, NJ, United States
With rapid change unfolding throughout the Arctic, the need for actionable Arctic science has never been greater. A warming climate is reshaping Arctic ecosystems, bringing changes such as the loss of sea ice and glaciers, thawing of permafrost, and changing snow patterns. These shifts challenge Arctic citizens who must adapt to new environmental conditions, and have significant global implications. A 2014 National Research Council report, The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions, identifies research questions important for understanding how environmental and societal transitions will affect the Arctic and the rest of the world. It also assesses what is required to address these questions, and points to the need to translate research findings into practical information that can help guide management and policy decisions. Drawing upon the report, this presentation will focus on the scientific research questions identified under five categories: Evolving Arctic, Hidden Arctic, Connected Arctic, Managed Arctic, and Undetermined Arctic. It will also address methods to meet the challenges and assess what is needed to leverage efficiencies in making Arctic research happen, from collaboration and coordination to sustained observations, building human and operational capacity, making information actionable as well as accessible, and possible changes in funding approaches. It will demonstrate that fostering a sense of shared purpose to manage change to the best of our abilities is essential, as is a continued commitment to studying what exists, what is emerging, and what awaits us in the Arctic.