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NOAA's Arctic Research Initiative: Proceedings of a Workshop 1 Overview At the request of NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), on July 11, 1997, the Polar Research Board (PRB) conducted a workshop to bring together knowledgeable people whose views about the need for research on Arctic contamination issues would be valuable to NOAA as the agency plans for the second phase of its Arctic Research Initiative (ARI). The ARI began in 1997 with an initial appropriation of $1 million to support research in the Arctic. The original focus of the ARI was the health of the Western Arctic and Bering Sea Ecosystem, and during its first year the program emphasized two research themes: (1) the study of natural variability in the Arctic ecosystem and (2) understanding anthropogenic influences on that system. An Announcement of Opportunity was disseminated, proposals received, and funds allocated to proposals most relevant to these two themes based on scientific merit. In that first year, 57 proposals requesting over $3.5 million were received. In the end, a technical review panel selected 15 proposals for support and made awards of $900,000. The remaining $100,000 was used by NOAA and the University of Alaska's Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research (CIFAR) to run the scientific review process and for various aspects of planning and management, including this workshop. To guide the second year of the ARI, NOAA believed that additional thought about program themes, goals, and integration with other Arctic research activities was in order. Thus NOAA asked for the PRB's assistance, and this workshop was the result of that request. The intent of the workshop was to examine the ARI as currently structured and discuss how the program might evolve. Although this workshop can only provide a "snapshot" of the opinions of the participants, we hoped that through the presentations, brainstorming, and small group discussions, the workshop participants could examine the identified research themes and give input on whether they are still appropriate, expand on
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NOAA's Arctic Research Initiative: Proceedings of a Workshop these broad themes by proposing possible key research questions that could benefit from attention, and provide other ideas to facilitate NOAA's planning for continuation of the ARI next year and perhaps in years to come. This input is intended to help NOAA manage the ARI so it better supports the NOAA mission while at the same time contributing to meeting national and international goals for addressing the health of the Arctic environment. This proceedings serves as a record of the workshop: Chapter 1 is an overview written to summarize the day's most important discussions; Chapter 2 is a transcript of the presentations, and thus contains more detail; and Chapter 3 reproduces selected background materials used by the workshop participants. The workshop involved some 50 participants, including members of the Polar Research Board, key staff and administrators of NOAA, representatives of various agencies with Arctic interests and programs (such as the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Naval Research, the Marine Mammal Commission, the National Atmospheric and Space Administration, and the State Department), plus representatives of the Arctic Research Commission, the Arctic Consortium of the United States, and a variety of outside scientists with strong interests in the Arctic. Although funding was extremely limited, special effort was made to bring some representatives from Alaska. The goal was to involve a diversity of interests and expertise while keeping the group small to allow substantive discussions and an informal exchange of ideas. KEY ISSUES The workshop began with a series of presentations by NOAA staff who outlined current NOAA programs in the Arctic and their relevance to ARI themes. NOAA's mission is broad and in the Arctic it deals with weather monitoring and forecasting, fisheries management, habitat protection, and conservation of protected marine mammals. It addresses both natural variability in and anthropogenic influences on the region. Thus, Arctic contaminants—including their origin, transportation, and fate—are relevant because contaminants can affect these interests and because they play an important role in atmospheric problems such as Arctic haze, ozone depletion, and UV radiation. Current research suggests that climate change is occurring in the Arctic and that contaminants may be involved in this change. For instance, data indicate that the snow cover in parts of Alaska apparently melts earlier each year, and there appears to be a gradual and permanent thawing of the permafrost in certain areas. Because such changes may only be partially related to human-introduced contaminants, a knowledge of the variability in the ecosystem is necessary in order to sort the natural effects from those that are anthropogenic. According to discussions at the workshop, some of the areas where research would be useful include determining factors affecting ice-pack location and density, sea surface temperature analysis over long periods of time, and a range of physical and biologic oceanographic studies that could document climate change.
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NOAA's Arctic Research Initiative: Proceedings of a Workshop Participants also noted the importance of gaining an understanding of the role of Arctic tundra in the global carbon budget; evidence indicates that tundra has changed from being a carbon sink during historic times to being a source of CO2 for the atmosphere. Workshop participants stressed that the health of the Arctic marine biosphere has a real impact on people: about 40 percent of the fish consumed in the United States are taken from the Bering Sea fisheries, and the Bering Sea is critical to various local communities. Thus, there is an urgent need to understand the effects of contaminants on fish and mammals as well as the effects on humans resulting from human consumption of these marine resources. Because the food chain can be affected by UV and ozone changes, they also thought that careful work was necessary on the UV index, now an important part of daily weather forecasts, as well as the extent of ozone depletion. Representatives of federal agencies with Arctic interests expressed concern about related matters including the consequences of thawing of permafrost in Alaska (and Russia) and the consideration of the marine ecosystem and marine resources as important international issues that will need cooperation of the Arctic nations. What are the important research directions that NOAA should address in its ARI? How can the program be steered to better support NOAA's mission and conduct high priority work while at the same time contributing to national and even international efforts to understand and protect the health of the Arctic environment? The primary subjects discussed at the workshop fell into four major areas: anthropogenic influences on the western Arctic ecosystem—contaminant sources, transport and dispersion, and feedback loop effects on humans and key ecosystem components; Arctic haze, ozone, and UV flux; natural variability in the Arctic ecosystem; and interrelationship of NOAA's activities with the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP). The first three issues parallel the key themes used to guide the first year of the ARI, a sign that the ARI has been on the fight track. Workshop participants were given an opportunity to critique these themes or create new ones, but the general sense of the discussion was that these themes provided a solid foundation for addressing the health of the Arctic. As judged by the workshop participants, the ARI needs only to mature and evolve, and part of that evolution should be to move toward a more integrated and focused effort. Natural variability, while listed separately, is clearly a common denominator among the themes. The last item, AMAP, was the one substantive addition identified by workshop participants. While many participants felt that the most important issue is the effect of Arctic contaminants on people, most of the related areas of concern—such as individual and community health, subsistence, and risk assessment—are outside the scope of NOAA's mandate. However, the flow of contaminants through the ecosystem, especially
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NOAA's Arctic Research Initiative: Proceedings of a Workshop atmospheric and food chain effects, is of direct interest to NOAA and thus can be addressed by the ARI. Many workshop participants expressed the opinion that contaminant research should be science-driven. In other words, it should be the result of careful assessment of research needs and selection of priorities that give an integrated view of the problem as opposed to a more random assortment of good but not necessarily related proposals. Research should use an ecosystem approach focusing on the source of the contaminants, the interactions of atmospheric and oceanic sources and sinks, and the progress of contaminants through and their effects on the Arctic ecosystem. Better coordination of analytical techniques among the various groups conducting research is essential. In addition, it might prove useful to establish a set of Alaskan index sites and index species for a long-term study to document the effects of contaminants on the ecosystem. Workshop participants emphasized that research on Arctic haze, ozone depletion, and UV flux should continue to be key themes for the ARI. However, they noted that an accurate understanding of anthropogenic effects on the atmosphere can only be attained if the natural variability in the different system components is understood. Research in these areas should take advantage of instrumental and paleorecords, focus on stability/mixing dynamics, and use modeling to help identify and evaluate key variables. Understanding chemical and physical characteristics of Arctic haze may help define the source areas of the aerosols. Integrating this information with our knowledge of Arctic atmospheric circulation should aid in understanding and defining long-term trends. To accomplish this objective, Arctic ozone anomalies, losses, and trends should be studied further. In addition, better understanding of Arctic volcanic perturbations of stratospheric aerosol is needed to see the effects of such phenomena on the ozone. In addition, participants thought there was a need for research on the temperature trends for formation of polar stratospheric clouds and the wintertime stability of the Arctic stratosphere vortex. Finally, because the impact of commercial transpolar aviation on the Arctic stratosphere is largely unknown, further study of this issue should be encouraged. Workshop participants noted that there has been considerable progress toward understanding the Arctic UV flux. The UV International Research Centers (UVIRCs) provide an opportunity to use an integrative, multidisciplinary approach to identify, quantify, model, and predict the short-and long-term effects of UV radiation, and could include studies of UV-induced changes in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. From the workshop discussions, it is clear that understanding natural variability is a theme common among all the ARI topics of interest and that anthropogenic change cannot be understood without an understanding of natural variability. We need to know the variability amplitude and the relevant time scales of the important environmental parameters related to natural change. To gain this understanding, we need to develop and use long-term records of Arctic natural variability now stored in ice and marine and terrestrial sediment cores. The role of long-term natural variability in atmospheric and oceanic processes, and how this contrasts with human-induced changes, needs to be better understood. Such an understanding can be enhanced by sensitivity studies and simulation
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NOAA's Arctic Research Initiative: Proceedings of a Workshop modeling that can test the applicability of various parameters in the ecosystem. A solid understanding of coupled physical-biological models and processes, which may need to extend outside of the narrow borders of the Bering Sea, may be necessary to obtain some of this data. Another issue that arose, first in the working group on contaminant sources, transport and effects but then again in plenary discussions, was the importance of using a systems approach to contaminants research in the Arctic. Workshop participants stressed that a comprehensive, systems-oriented approach is essential if we are to develop a real understanding of the causes and effects of contaminants in the Arctic. One strong opinion expressed during the workshop discussions was that the United States should play a more active role in the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) (see Box 1), and that U.S. contributions to date have been disappointing. Full participation would involve at least one long-term study site in the U.S. Arctic where baseline and trend studies of environmental stressors could be made, and the provision of funding to support a U.S. AMAP coordinator. Better support of this international program would pay high dividends for the ARI as well as meet U.S. international obligations and allow the U.S. to benefit from other nations' contributions to the next phase of AMAP. Although a number of agencies are conducting and funding AMAP-related research, workshop participants thought that NOAA could play a lead role in the U.S. effort because the objectives of AMAP are complementary with the objectives of the ARI and with other elements of NOAA's mission. Another issue discussed during the workshop was how to ensure quality proposals that directly address the priorities set out by NOAA and ARI administrators. An Announcement of Opportunity is one way to proceed in any research granting process, as was done to select projects for ARI support in 1997 and as is planned for 1998. But workshop participants noted that this ''bottom-up'' approach for supporting research activities may not always foster a focused effort. Dr. Garry Brass, Director of the Arctic Research Commission, argued persuasively that perhaps some portion of ARI funds be allocated in a "top down" fashion—meaning that NOAA administrators take the initiative to determine selected high priority research questions and then solicit proposals from those who are best equipped to work on those questions. Using this approach for some of the funds would allow NOAA more control in ensuring that proposals meet identified needs and specific goals. A significant portion of the workshop was conducted in small groups, where participants focused on the major research themes and discussed a range of important research questions that might be addressed by the ARI. Three of the working groups addressed the main NOAA/ARI research themes of (1) natural variability; (2) anthropogenic influences: contaminant sources, transport, dispersion, and effects; and (3) anthropogenic influences: Arctic haze, ozone, and UV flux. Another group addressed U.S. involvement in AMAP. The groups were charged to first brainstorm a variety of potentially important research topics and then to attempt to identify some subset of those
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NOAA's Arctic Research Initiative: Proceedings of a Workshop BOX 1 The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) is an international effort begun in 1991 as part of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS). The main objective of AMAP is to monitor the levels of anthropogenic pollutants and assess the effects on the Arctic, including the atmosphere, the terrestrial environment, the freshwater environment, the marine environment, and human health. AMAP also was charged to document pollution trends, examine the impacts of pollution on Arctic flora and fauna, especially those used by indigenous people, and give advice to Ministers from participating countries on priority actions needed to improve the Arctic condition. The eight circumpolar countries that take part in AMAP are: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Federation of Russia, Sweden, and the United States. Representatives from indigenous peoples organizations and non-Arctic countries and international organizations involved in significant research and monitoring efforts also participate. The work within AMAP is based primarily on existing national and international programs. Bringing these existing efforts together, and creating new efforts to fill in the gaps, was intended to produce the first comprehensive assessment of the state of the Arctic environment. Efforts included monitoring projects Within countries and across borders under bilateral and multilateral agreements, joint research cruises, and remote sensing. The first phase of AMAP lasted from 1991 until 1997, with publication of the AMAP Assessment Report. U.S. participation in this first phase of AMAP was disappointing and how to improve U.S. efforts has been the subject of considerable debate within the U.S. government and the Arctic science community. questions that merit high priority attention. Boxes 2, 3, and 4 provide summaries of the small groups' thinking about the major research themes. Each group was also asked to develop a list of factors that ARI administrators should consider when evaluating research proposals, and Box 5 is a compilation of these suggestions. Please note that these summaries were created at the workshop by the groups and thus reflect only the views of the small groups of people with limited time to deliberate. They are provided only as guides to the types of questions experts consider appropriate for study; further effort would be needed to develop a more careful list of research priorities or a comprehensive strategy for addressing those priorities. There also was not enough time for a thorough discussion and review necessary to integrate across the ARI's theme areas; this would need to be done by the program administrators overseeing the proposal selection process. Although we have edited the lists slightly for readability, the structure and scope of the lists varied from group to group and we have not attempted to impose consistency or refine the thinking. Where items appear in bold, those items were judged by that group to be of especially high priority. Beyond grouping the bold items at the top of each list, the items are not listed in priority order.
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NOAA's Arctic Research Initiative: Proceedings of a Workshop CONCLUSION This workshop was intended to give NOAA guidance useful for steering the Arctic Research Initiative into its second year and beyond. This proceedings was produced to be a permanent record of the workshop discussions and an overview of the main lessons learned, and it should serve to give NOAA input to create a more focused approach for allocating funds under the Arctic Research Initiative. Our purpose in hosting the workshop was achieved: we were pleased with the amount of material covered, the seriousness of the deliberations, and the range of suggestions put forward. It was a significant level of work for a small group with only one day of effort available. But we realize that much of the real effort remains—sorting the most useful ideas from the many interesting thoughts and implementing them within the context of the Arctic Research Initiative. This step remains for NOAA, CIFAR, and the scientists submitting proposals and receiving grants from the program. Or perhaps given the liberty of a longer planning horizon, NOAA and the ARI managers might devise a mechanism to more carefully define the research priorities and questions, such as a workshop focused on each theme or a more in-depth program evaluation. The challenge is to move from the broad thinking expressed in the research themes to more specific activities without losing the overall vision for the program and in a way that makes the sum of the parts add up to some greater whole. Beyond this Overview, this proceedings includes copies of the background materials provided to the workshop participants and, as a record of the actual discussions, transcripts of the plenary sessions. Please note that the transcripts have been edited to improve readability but no substantive new material was added; thus the documents retain the informal, spoken tone of the meeting. Speakers were given an opportunity to review and edit the transcript of their talks. Transcripts of the questions asked and subsequent discussions are provided as well, but with the caveat that these are informal remarks provided only to give the gull flavor of the workshop.
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NOAA's Arctic Research Initiative: Proceedings of a Workshop Box 2 Research Needed to Address Natural Variability Coordinate, share, combine information from different databases. Need to establish baseline understanding so we can understand variability. Better understand the spectrum of the variability, amplitude, and time scales of important environmental parameters. Define important parameters; develop models to describe variability Environmental monitoring of critical areas (e.g., Barrow, Alaska). Improved ability to predict fisheries stock trends, to determine what is "natural" versus "man-made" effects; to understand regimes shifts. Improved capabilities to use of anthropogenic contaminants as tracers to better understand natural variability and contaminant transport; these must be nontoxic. More sensitivity studies and models to identify parameters of variability. Better quality assurance, quality control, and attention to how data is collected and analyzed. Better understanding of interannual variability of greenbelt processes, including shelf/slope exchange processes. Address ice dynamics/thermodynamics, including historical records and trends. Address variability Of stratosphere (ozone depletion, Cooling), long-term trends, effect of cloud, and driving forces for stratospheric stability. Better Understanding of coupled physical-biological models/processes including beyond the boundaries of the Bering Sea. Consider long-trail records (1000s of years) through ice and sediment cores to put current variability into perspective. Improved comparative studies in the Arctic, including comparisons of similar environments with different human usage. Better understanding multi-stressor problem-existing and possible future stressors. Better understanding of "predictability." How far out into the future do we need to predict? Increased emphasis on habitat change (e.g., migratory changes, permafrost, vegetation changes). Better understanding of the role of long-term Variability in atmospheric transport on temperature, cloud cover, and arctic haze variations (as opposed to greenhouse gas forcing). Increased use of common calibration procedures.
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NOAA's Arctic Research Initiative: Proceedings of a Workshop BOX 3 Research Needed to Address Contaminant Sources, Transport, and Effects Effects of contaminants on people, both now and in the future. Specific areas of concern include individual health, community health, subsistence, risk assessment, and risk communications. These areas are generally outside the scope of NOAA's mandate. However, related areas that do fall within the scope of NOAA's mandate include ecological risk assessment, the long-term study of possible sentinel species, and exposure estimates. Contaminants research should use an ecosystems .approach, focusing on the food web and biomagnification. The interaction between Arctic and subarctic transport processes. The interactions of sources and sinks, especially land-atmosphere exchanges. Large scale patterns of and controls on contaminant transport. Large scale patterns of and controls on atmospheric CO2 and methane concentrations. Studies of local sources of contamination and their effects. Baseline studies of local sources and effects of newly introduced chemicals should be conducted. An important area that has received little or no scientific attention is the decision-making processes used by and the motivations of the people who institute policies leading to serious environmental damage. Of particular interest are policy makers in the former Soviet Union. However, these issues fall within the domain of the social sciences and not NOAA. Contaminant research should be science-driven. This means that it should not be ad hoc, but guided by careful assessment of research needs so what results over time is an integrated view of the problem. Special attention Should be paid to multiple stressors and Synergy. ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES Continued efforts to improve and standardize analytical protocols so there can be calibration of the results of different studies. Systematic efforts archive data on contaminants (origin, transport, effects). If data are stored in dispersed locations, a network of communications between the several archives, and between the archives and researchers, needs to be created. A general policy governing proprietary rights to data must be agreed on before such a network will be able to function effectively. (To do this, the advice of scientists working on similar issues in the Antarctic should be sought.) A set of index sites should be established and monitored. A set of index species populations should be agreed upon and monitored. Documenting the effects of contaminants should be encouraged. There is a need for greatly improved communication between the members of the scientific community and Arctic residents with respect to contaminants. In this exchange, scientists should listen as well as speak.
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NOAA's Arctic Research Initiative: Proceedings of a Workshop BOX 4 Research Needed to Address Arctic Haze, Ozone, and UV Flux General Areas of Significance: • Define variability in atmospheric circulation as a driver for all 3 areas, plus: - take advantage of instrumental and paleo records, - focus on stability/mixing dynamics, and - improve modeling and Validation. • Effects of UVB on biosphere (e.g., Aleutian low dynamics). UV Flux (Note: The working group the IASC document. "Effects of UV Radiation" as the basis for its discussion and selecting the following key issues.) • UV International Research Centers (UVIRCs): using the research stations that already exist in the Arctic to measure UV changes, we should incorporate a biological component so we can begin to develop a coordinated understanding of UV flux and its effects. • Surface and Satellite monitoring and modeling of the UV radiation field. • Effects of UVB on aquatic ecosystem (e.g, abundance, distribution, composition, and biogeochemical cycling of particulate and dissolved organic matter in diverse aquatic ecosystems). • Effects of UV on terrestrial ecosystems. UV-induced changes in plant chemical composition. • Effects of UVB on human health. • Social impacts of UVB radiation, e.g., perturbation of food chain and impact to indigenous populations. • Effects of arctic haze and clouds on UV radiation Ozone: Stratosphere • Characterize ozone anomalies, loss, and trends. • Understand temperature trends for formation of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs). • Wintertime stability of Arctic stratosphere Vortex. • Volcanic perturbations to stratospheric aerosol and effects on ozone. • Impact. of current commercial transpolar subsonic aviation (current and projected). on Arctic stratosphere. Arctic Haze • Understanding and defining long-term trends. • Understanding chemical and physical characteristics of Arctic haze. • Atmospheric circulation variations. • Understanding source regions of aerosols. • Comparisons of databases in U.S. and Russia.
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NOAA's Arctic Research Initiative: Proceedings of a Workshop BOX 5 Brainstorming Results: Factors Consider When Evaluating Research Proposals Be high-quality science, as judged by the peer review. Address identified gaps. Greatest socioeconomic impact. Reasonable cost. Strong impacts/effects. Relevance to identified three theme areas. New finding; current need related to human health and environment. Meet the intent of Congress (as specified in authorization). Help honor U.S. international commitments (e.g., AMAP). Study design must be based on clear paradigms (study locations, spatial and temporal resolutions, risk, assessments, etc.). Must be a fair and open selection process. Relevance to societal needs and basic research. The contribution of the research to an understanding of systems. The extent to which the research involves partnerships, cost sharing, participation of Alaskan Natives. The extent to which the research is built on existing programs (i.e., leveraging). Individual efforts must integrate to equal something greater than or equal to the parts. References Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, 1997. Arctic Pollution Issues: A State of the Arctic Environment Report. Oslo, Norway. Arctic Research Consortium of the United States, 1997. People and the Arctic: A Prospectus for Research on the Human Dimensions of the Arctic System for the National Science Foundation, Arctic System Science Program. ARCUS, Fairbanks, Alaska. International Arctic Science Committee, 1996. Effects of Increased Ultraviolet Radiation in the Arctic: An Interdisciplinary Report on the State of Knowledge and Research Needed. IASC Secretariat, Oslo, Norway.
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NOAA's Arctic Research Initiative: Proceedings of a Workshop National Research Council, Polar Research Board 1996. The Bering Sea Ecosystem. National Academy Press. Washington, DC National Research Council, Polar Research Board 1993. Science and Stewardship in the Antarctic. National Academy Press. Washington, DC. National Research Council, Polar Research Board 1974. Southern Ocean Dynamics: A Strategy for Scientific Exploration 1973-1983.
Representative terms from entire chapter: