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First U.S. Arctic Science Summit Week Seeks to Share Data, Fill ‘Gaps’ in Circumpolar Research

Filling the gaps in Arctic science …

“We’re bringing everybody together in one room, at one time, to meet each other, to address some of the major challenges that are facing the Arctic,” says Larry Hinzman, vice chancellor for research with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

That’s why UAF has organized a major meeting of more than a thousand scientists and policymakers from 29 nations who’ll be meeting on the campus in the coming days.

Credit Flickr
Larry Hinzman, UAF vice chancellor for research

More than a hundred white papers will be presented during Arctic Science Summit Week. Hinzman says they’ll all share a common theme.

“What do we need to do to advance science and policy in the Arctic?” he said. “Where is more science needed to take on some of these policy questions? Where do we need more research to aid in decision-making?  

This year’s summit will be the biggest in its 18-year history, and the first to be held in the United States. It’s bringing together top Arctic scientists to exchange their latest research, and to determine what future studies are needed.

Credit UAF

“We’re trying to identify where the gaps in knowledge are, where the gaps in measurements are,” Hinzman said, “so we can get different nations working together, so that we share our accomplishments, share the data, share the observations, so we can make greater advancements.”

Much of that information will be exchanged during the Arctic Observing Summit, says Hajo Eicken, the director of UAF’s International Arctic Research Center and organizer of the summit-within-a summit.

Eicken says they’ll also talk about better ways to communicate their findings in the rapidly evolving field of Arctic research.

Credit Flickr
UAF International Arctic Research Center Director Hajo Eicken

“In many respects, it’s about sharing,” he said. “How do we best share our different sources of data? How do share different types of technologies? How do we share our perspectives on what we think is going on in the Arctic?

And, he said, perhaps most importantly: “How do we best respond?”

To help facilitate a joint response, Eicken says summit organizers also have invited international policymakers and observers to the sessions. They include the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials, and other stakeholders with interests in the Arctic, including representatives of indigenous-peoples’ organizations and industry.

To find out more about Arctic Science Summit Week, go to ASSW2016.ohttp://ASSW2016.orgrg.

Editor's note: This story has been revised for posting online.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.