Towards a Unifying Pan-Arctic Perspective: Concepts and Theories
Overview: This grant is to support an international group of scientists, including a significant number from the US, to develop a shared, high-level conceptual model of the functioning of the Arctic Ocean that synthesizes our understanding of the key processes and elements governing the responses of the Arctic marine ecosystems to current pressures and changes. The development of a unified pan arctic conceptual model for the Arctic Ocean, which may include a nested array of additional models addressing specific regions and processes, will enable improved coordination of research efforts addressing the Arctic Ocean in a time of change. Broader Impacts: The Arctic Ocean is a region of peaceful and constructive political and economic cooperation, which can be improved through science-based knowledge sharing and unifying concepts. The outcome of this workshop will be reported in two publications: (1) an extended revision of conceptual models of the Arctic Ocean, and (2) a compact and distilled version of the unified conceptual model to be developed at the workshop identifying the key processes and levers governing the response of the Arctic Ocean ecosystem to change. The workshop will be held and its products developed during the period of the US Chairmanship of the international Arctic Council, to reach a broad research community, including researchers and research managers nationally and internationally. Intellectual Merit: Addressing the conceptualization of Arctic processes must focus on the pan arctic marine environment but encompass the full marine - land - atmosphere system. Many nations, both Arctic and non-Arctic, are elaborating major research programs aimed at advancing our understanding of the Arctic Ocean system in a time of change, as a pre-requisite to managing the imminent pressures derived from the forecasted increase in industry operations in the Arctic. However, these programs, involving great efforts and resources, are largely lacking a shared paradigm, or understanding to help identify the key processes that such programs should aim to resolve. There is a risk that these research programs will suffer from a lack of focus and their outcomes, as well as fail to achieve synergy with one another. As a result, while each effort may be scientifically relevant and sound, collectively they may fall short of providing the high level understanding required, leaving us in a marginal position to manage the impacts of economic growth and industry operations in the future Arctic. This effort aims to address that by providing the high level thinking needed to help guide scientific planning in the Arctic.