Summary, International Arctic S&T Collaboration and Engagement Workshop

International Arctic S&T Collaboration and Engagement

Workshop Summary Report

9 December 2014 – Arctic Change 2014

Shaw Centre – Ottawa, Canada



 Although there are many opportunities facing the Arctic such as increased resource development and shipping, significant social, environmental and economic challenges remain.  Strengthened bilateral science and technology (S&T) collaboration can assist in better understanding and adapting to these challenges and opportunities. 

 On December 16, 2014, the Canadian High Arctic Research Station Act received Royal Assent.  As a result, the resources and knowledge of the Canadian Polar Commission (CPC) and the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) will be combined to establish a new federal research organization responsible for advancing Canada’s knowledge of the Arctic and strengthening Canadian leadership on polar S&T (coming into force date is to be determined).  The planned CHARS research station in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut and its nascent S&T Program represent emerging opportunities for increased international collaboration.  Additional opportunities for collaboration also exist with other Canadian polar researchers and institutions.

 The CPC and CHARS were pleased to host a one-day International Arctic S&T Collaboration and Engagement Workshop involving Canadian and international polar researchers and institutions in Ottawa on December 9th, 2014.  This workshop facilitated the sharing of current and future Arctic S&T priorities to explore opportunities to enhance bilateral cooperation between Canadian and international polar research institutions.  The workshop was attended by over 150 people from across Canada and from at least 13 countries, including the US, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Japan, China, India, and Switzerland.

 Workshop agenda (available in English only)

 Canadian polar research landscape

 The morning portion of the workshop focused on providing a clear picture of the Canadian polar research landscape.  Welcoming remarks were delivered by David J. Scott, Executive Director of the Canadian Polar Commission; Martin Raillard, Chief Scientist of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station; Chris Shapardanov, Executive Director of Circumpolar Affairs and Energy at Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada; and, David Grimes, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Meteorological Service of Canada and President of the World Meteorological Organization.

 Canadian Polar Research Landscape: David J. Scott, Executive Director of the Canadian Polar Commission provided an overview of the Canadian operational context, including the large and diverse geographic area and sparse population of the Canadian Arctic, and the existence and significance of land claims agreements and settlement areas.

  Presentation (available in English only)

  State of Northern Knowledge in Canada:  Susan File, Research Analyst at the Canadian Polar Commission presented some findings from the CPC’s recent State of Northern Knowledge in Canada Report, which were based on interviews with northern-focused researchers and practitioners that were supplemented and validated with literature.  With a focus on research priorities that are important to Canadian Northerners, research gains and gaps were highlighted under the themes of:preparing for large-scale resource development; increasing community sustainability; strengthening resilience; and, understanding environmental change. 

 Presentation (available in English only)

The State of Northern Knowledge in Canada – Canadian Polar Commission (Report and web compendium)

 State of Environmental Monitoring in Northern Canada:  Tara Zamin, Research Analyst at the Canadian Polar Commission, presented terrestrial monitoring findings from the CPC’s forthcoming Report on the State of Environmental Monitoring in Northern Canada, which will be available in early 2015.  Findings were based on an analysis of gaps in relation to monitoring topics, geography, and areas of resource development.  Opportunities for increased monitoring synergies were also highlighted.

Presentation (available in English only)

 Canadian Network of Northern Research Operators (CNNRO):  An overview of CNNRO was provided by James Drummond, President of the CNNRO.  This network was established to ensure that Canada maintains appropriate Northern research infrastructure and serve as a forum for research operators.  It was noted that CNNRO is actively looking for linkages and collaboration opportunities, both nationally and internationally, and has conducted a survey of its membership to better understand and address their priorities. 

 Presentation (available in English only)

CNNRO website

 Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS):  An update was provided by Martin Raillard, Chief Scientist of CHARS on the Station that is being constructed in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, and the S&T Program that is underway. The Station will be operational in 2017.  The current S&T Program (2014-15 to 2018-19) is working to address the following five short-term priority areas: (1) baseline information preparedness for development; (2) alternative and renewable energy; (3) underwater situational awareness; (4) predicting the impacts of changing ice, permafrost, and snow on shipping, infrastructure, and communities; and, (5) infrastructure for development.  An open call for proposals covering two of these priority areas was released in early December 2014, for which Canadian institutions and individuals are eligible, such as regional and community groups, academia, government departments, the private sector, and NGOs.  CHARS is currently working with potential international partners to identify areas of common research interest and capacity and develop project ideas, and expects to release an international call for proposals in Fall/Winter 2015 in advance of the 2017 field season.

 Presentation (available in English only)

CHARS website

 Current and future Arctic S&T priorities of other countries

 The second portion of the workshop provided an opportunity for representatives from key polar research institutions from nine different countries to provide an overview of their current and future Arctic research priorities.

 United States: Eric S. Saltzman, Head of Arctic Science within the Division of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF), provided an overview of the NSF’s research activities and priorities.  NSF research themes include sea ice and the changing Arctic Ocean; climate and sub-polar connections; glacier dynamics and sea level rise; ocean acidification; warming tundra/permafrost; human eco-dynamics; and, the science of sustainability, adaptation and resilience.  An overview of US Arctic research stations and field support were also provided.

 Presentation (available in English only)

 Sweden:  Margareta Johansson, from the Department of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences at Lund University provided an overview of Sweden’s polar research priorities and the International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic (INTERACT).  While also involved in Arctic social sciences research, key areas of focus of Swedish researchers and institutions are primarily in the natural sciences.  This includes research in areas such as marine geology and the sea bottom; permaforst and the carbon cycle; marine chemistry and oceanography; meteorology and atmosphere; space; and, geology.  Some of Sweden’s research stations and its polar icebreaker and research vessel were also covered in the presentation.

  Presentation (available in English only)

 Finland:  Bruce Forbes, Research Professor, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland provided an overview of research areas of focus of Finnish universities and research institutions that are active in Arctic and cold climate research in areas such as infrastructure, economy, environment, technology, sustainable development, social sciences, health and well-being, shipping, forestry, and fisheries.  An overview of some of Finland’s research and monitoring stations was also provided.

 Presentation (available in English only)

 United Kingdom:  Tim Stockings, Operations Director at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) provided an overview of the polar science priorities of the BAS and its operational capabilities.  Polar research conducted by the BAS is currently focused on the climate; chemistry and past climate; ecosystems; environmental change and evolution; ice sheets; and, polar oceans.  With strategic science delivery in the polar regions, the operational capacity of the BAS includes an Arctic research station in the Svalbard archipelago and numerous stations in the Antarctic, logistics support in both polar regions, aircraft that can carry scientific equipment, and a new polar research vessel that will enter service in 2019.

 Presentation (available in English only)

 France:  Denis-Didier Rousseau, Senior Research Scientist from the Centre national de la recherche scientifique presented the French Arctic Initiative, which identifies 10 science priorities for France’s forthcoming national program for Arctic research.

The 10 major priorities consist of the following: (1) Arctic and global atmosphere variability including amplification, couplings and impacts; (2) water cycle and land ice; (3) a changing ocean, from the physical environment to marine ecosystems; (4) geodynamics and resources; (5) permafrost dynamics in the context of climate warming; (6) Arctic terrestrial ecosystem dynamics in the context of global change; (7) indigenous people and global change; (8) an integrated program on the Arctic land-sea continuum; (9) pollution, including sources, cycles and impacts; and, (10) sustainable development in the Arctic region, including impacts, implementation and governance.

 Presentation (available in English only)

 Germany:  Nicole Biebow, Head of the International Cooperation Unit at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) provided an overview of the German Arctic research strategy Rapid Climate Change in the Arctic : Polar Research as a Global Responsibility, that was released in 2012.  Key research areas include: the past, present and future of climate change in the Arctic; contributions of the Greenland ice sheet to sea level rise; the decline in Arctic sea ice; permafrost and gas hydrates as unknown variables in the climate system; adaptation of polar organisms to changes in the Arctic environment; and, the risks and opportunities of increasing commercial exploitation of the Arctic.  Some of the AWI’s contribution to Germany’s Arctic research priorities were also covered, including research regarding Arctic sea ice and its interaction with the ocean and ecosystems and carbon export from GHG emissions and microbial degradation.

Presentation (available in English only)

 Italy:  Vito Vitale, Senior Researcher at the National Research Council of Italy, provided an overview of some of Italy’s research priorities including atmospheric physics and climate; permafrost and terrestrial ecosystems; marine biology and biodiversity; oceanography; marine geophysics (in particular natural hazards); paleoclimate ; earth observation; ionosphere and Sun-Earth interactions; and, astrophysics.  An emphasis on supersites as a way to investigate systems complexity, along with technology development in order to increase sustainability were also noted.  A number of other potential areas for future collaboration among Canadian and Italian researchers and institutions were also identified from a Canada-Italy Workshop on Arctic S&T Collaboration that was held in Ottawa in October 2014.

 Presentation (available in English only)

Canada-Italy Workshop on Arctic S&T Collaboration (Summary report)

 Korea:  Hyoung Chul Shin, Head of the Department of International Cooperation at the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) provided an overview of KOPRI’s research in the Arctic, which is focused on climate change, including causes and consequences; biodiversity, adaptation and evolution; tectonics and the earth system evolution; and, emerging polar research including upper atmospheric physics.  This includes monitoring environmental change in permafrost in the circumpolar Arctic; monitoring changes in the Arctic Ocean and related systems; examining linkages between the Arctic and mid-latitude regions; and, reconstructing past climatic and environmental changes.  With many public companies in Korea involved in energy and mineral resources, there is also an interest in application science in areas such as shipping.  Korea has one research station in the Arctic and two in the Antarctic, along with a polar research vessel.

Presentation (not yet available)

 Japan:  Masaki Uchida, from the Bioscience Group at the National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) highlighted potential areas for collaborative research between Canadian and Japanese researchers that were identified during a previous workshop involving ArcticNet and NIPR participants.  This included research regarding the ocean, atmosphere and Northwest Passage; changes in glaciers, snow coverage, permafrost and land surface processes in the Arctic; terrestrial ecosystems; and, upper atmosphere in the Canadian Arctic, in addition to the sharing of infrastructure.  Potential areas for collaboration with CHARS were also identified, such as snow cover and glaciology observations in the Arctic and the establishment of community-based permafrost observatories throughout Arctic Canada.

 Presentation (available in English only)


 Next steps to enhance Arctic S&T bilateral cooperation

 The workshop concluded with a discussion regarding next steps to enhance Arctic S&T bilateral cooperation among Canadian and international polar researchers and institutions.  The upcoming Third International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP III) in April 2015 was noted as one source of information regarding common international research priorities that could be pursued.  The importance of integrating existing research activities with international partners and encouraging individual researchers including PhD students to conduct research in the Canadian Arctic was also noted.  To facilitate international collaboration, it was suggested that CHARS and other Canadian institutions consider their own research priorities and the areas in which international institutions, based on their areas of research focus and/or operational capabilities, could assist in achieving these priorities.  Bilateral discussions on an institution-to-institution basis could then be arranged to further define and pursue collaborative opportunities.