2002 ARCSS All-Hands Workshop | Overview

Seattle, WA
February, 2002

The National Science FoundationĂ­s (NSF) Arctic System Science (ARCSS) Program held an All-Hands Workshop in Seattle, Washington from February 20 to 23, 2002. Three hundred members of the arctic research community came together to share information and help plan the future of the ARCSS Program.

The workshop began with a presentation by Jack Kruse, outgoing ARCSS Committee Chair, that provided an overview of the ARCSS Program structure, as well as an outline of objectives for future ARCSS research. Mike Ledbetter, Program Director for the NSF ARCSS Program, then discussed the evolution of the Program, emphasizing the integrative, coordinated, and thematic approach to arctic system science that is the hallmark of ARCSS. ARCSS Committee member Amanda Lynch next introduced a basic process for moving from current ARCSS knowledge to future ARCSS research; a process that stresses the major discoveries, key uncertainties and readiness for researching those uncertainties, and priorities for integrative research. Subsequent presentations by representatives of the existing ARCSS components and emerging research initiatives followed the same guidelines by discussing major discoveries, key uncertainties and readiness for research within these components. A moderated panel followed with a discussion of the broad thematic questions from the 1998 ARCSS science plan, Toward Prediction of the Arctic System. Those questions are:

  1. How will the arctic climate change over the next 10-100 years?
  2. How will human activities interact with future global change to affect the sustainability of natural ecosystems and human societies?
  3. How will changes in arctic biogeochemical and hydrologic cycles and feedbacks affect arctic and global systems?
  4. Are predicted changes in the arctic system detectable?
Two researchers addressed each question, presenting the key uncertainties and research priorities for that question from their particular disciplinary and programmatic perspective.

The presentations on day one directed workshop participants toward the primary goal of the All-Hands Workshop: sketching out the future direction of the ARCSS Program. The workshopĂ­s four working groups represent aspects of the future ARCSS Program:
  1. The Hydrologic Cycle and its role in Arctic and Global Environmental Change (Arctic-CHAMP),
  2. Modes of Variability in the Arctic System
  3. Nearshore and Coastal Processes Initiative
  4. Biophysical Feedbacks and Transitions in the Arctic Regional System: Life Webs.
These groups met briefly at the end of day one. The second day of the workshop was primarily dedicated to working group discussions. Most working groups broke into smaller groups to discuss specific issues within that initiative. A plenary session during the afternoon of day two allowed each working group to present an initial summary of each discussion. The third day of the workshop included both working group sessions and a plenary session. During this last plenary session, each working group presented a final summary of the group discussions. Following each working group presentation, a panel, moderated by Mary Edwards, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, helped to clarify and synthesize the summaries. It quickly became apparent that the working group discussions identified numerous points of integration and areas of important and potentially fruitful collaboration. Each of the presentations made during all plenary sessions is available for download here. At the end of the final plenary session, Jack Kruse introduced Jonathan Overpeck, of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth (ISPE) at the University of Arizona, as the new ARCSS Committee chairman.

On the morning of day four the ARCSS committee members, along with ARCSS science management office directors, science steering committee chairs and working group leaders, met to begin reviewing the information presented during the All-Hands Workshop and to place the recommendations from the All-Hands Workshop in the context of the future ARCSS Program. The ARCSS Committee analyzed the areas of intersection and overlap identified throughout the workshop in the context of the five thematic ARCSS questions. The committee revised and refined the questions based on accomplishments and new priorities identified by the working groups. The refined questions, prefaced with a statement to establish the context, are:
Global change has implications for the Arctic system.
  1. Are detected changes predictable?
  2. How do human activities interact with changes in the arctic to affect the sustainability of ecosystems and societies?
  3. How will changes in arctic cycles and feedbacks affect arctic and global systems?

The ARCSS Committee and ARCUS staff would like to thank all of the participants and contributors for an informative and productive community workshop. The results of the workshop and information about the ongoing implementation of recommendations will be available on this web site.