Working Group Activities related to the Third International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP III)

  • Linkage between Arctic Climate Change and Mid-latitude Weather Extremes, location TBD - Fall 2014
  • Planning for MOSAiC – the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate, various locations - 2014/2015

For more information please see the ICARP III website


Abisko Polar Prediction School 2016

When: 5-15 April 2016 | Where: Abisko (Sweden)

The polar regions are experiencing a rapid change that opens new opportunities for the business sector and at the same time increases the risks of environmental disasters and impacts the life conditions of local communities including indigenous peoples. Prediction of weather and climate will be the cornerstone of efficient environmental services systems that are urgently needed in the polar regions. Such regional prediction systems will be imbedded in the corresponding global systems. However, the complexity of the polar climate system is high and the observing systems there are difficult to set up and maintain. The challenge of developing an effective seamless polar-prediction across timescales from days to decades should therefore involve training and development of a new generation of polar prediction researchers.

This WWRP/WCRP/Bolin Centre School on Polar Prediction will provide training for 30 post graduate and early career post-doctoral polar scientists, focusing on topics such as: polar mesoscale atmospheric processes; sea ice prediction, near term ensemble prediction, and seasonal-to-decadal climate variability and prediction in the polar regions. The program will combine lectures on key areas relevant for polar prediction and a number of field observation and modelling exercises to foster an interactive learning environment.

The school is sponsored by PPP (WMO-WWRP), PCPI (WMO-WCRP), the Bolin Centre, IASC, and APECS.

Jonathan Day

Scientific Highlights


Arctic Air Pollution Workshop

When: 14 March 2016 | Where: ASSW, Fairbanks, Alaska

At ASSW 2016 in Fairbanks, Alaska, the IASC and IGAC co-sponsored initiative “Air Pollution in the Arctic: Climate, Environment and Societies” brought together researchers active in the physical/chemical science of air pollution with those active in relevant social science topics (development, sustainability, risk, adaptation, policy, health and more) in order to explore common interests and begin to outline research objectives under PACES.
Presentations covering various perspectives and research methodologies from all represented sciences revealed that air pollution is a concern high on the priority lists of local communities. While the climate science community has been traditionally more concerned with long-term transport and background levels of pollutants, the intersection of these scales and perspectives has great potential.  For example, initial ideas on how to use community-based air pollution monitoring approaches together with systems analyses to improve the characterization of in-Arctic emission sources were discussed. At the same time it became evident that the evolution of local air pollution is intrinsically linked to socio-economic development, infrastructure investments, and has an effect on human well-being. To comprehensively understand the linkages and future development in a changing Arctic, social sciences approaches are needed to facilitate knowledge production together with the local communities. A follow-up workshop is planned for more in-depth discussions. The objective is to define cross-cutting research questions as well as priority study areas.

Kathy Law

Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights

• A comprehensive model for the air pollution monitoring in the Russian Arctic region was presented, that included both natural science and social dimensions.

• Discussed the close linkage of air pollution to human well-being, identifying the need for an interdisciplinary approach combining social and natural sciences to further explore the nexus between emissions, ecosystems and human well-being.


MOSAiC – Building a Process-level Understanding of the New Arctic

When: 2014/2015 | Where: Various locations

For more information please see the following page.


Travel Support for the 2nd International Conference on "Polar Climate and Environmental Change in the Last Millennium"

When: 24-26 August 2015 I Where: Torun (Poland)

With the success of the 1st International Conference ‘Polar climate and environmental change in the last millennium’ was organized in Torun, Poland, from Feb 1-3, 2010, it was decided that this kind of conference should take place periodically, every 5 years. Thus, from Aug 24-26, 2015 the 2nd international ‘Polar climate’ conference was held in Torun, Poland.

Like the previous Conference, the main objective of the 2nd Conference was to summarize the state of the art of climate and environmental changes in the Polar Regions. Key-note speakers included 8 well-known specialists in fields of sea ice, glaciology, permafrost, climatology and  paleoclimatology, terrestrial and ocean ecosystems, climate modelling, and crowdsourcing methods (e.g. to present state of Old Weather project). All in all, the conference served to present scientific achievements and to identify gaps in the field of historical climatology of the Polar Regions based on early meteorological observations, history, dendroclimatology, paleolimnology, geophysics, geomorphology and other sources.

Rajmund Przybylak

Tomasz Strzyżewski

Scientific Highlights

• “Modeling of Arctic climate” gave a picture about modern methods of investigation climate change.

• “Glaciers and ice-sea history” examined a vast area of marine ice topics. There was exposed mobility of these vulnerable nature formations.

• “Dynamics of permafrost” discussed mountain permafrost in Canada and permafrost in general.

• Findings on the changing contribution of snow in the hydrological regime of Hudson Bay were presented.

Lunar Photometry Workshop

When: 30 June - 2 July 2015 | Where: Valladolid (Spain)

Nighttime measurements of aerosol optical depth (AOD) are needed to fill gaps in climatology and to improve understanding of processes that impact the Arctic surface radiation budget through direct and indirect aerosol effects. Currently, with the availability of high-precision exo-atmospheric lunar irradiance (EAI), lunar photometry is an emerging technology that can fill in gaps regarding Arctic AOD climatology. A lunar photometer network is being established. A program has been established in Barrow, Alaska (US) and more recently in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard (Norway), with others planned for winter 2014/15 in Eureka, Nunavut (Canada) and at the Alomar Observatory (Norway).
The Lunar Photometry workshop was hosted by the GOA group of Valladolid University, Spain and brought together members of the lunar photometric community to further establish the network, develop calibration and data processing protocols and optimize the use of limited resources. The workshop deepened the scientific relevance of aerosol measurements in the Arctic throughout the annual cycle, identifying gaps in knowledge and observations in the Arctic, and needed improvements to lunar photometer prototypes and the analysis of data collected using these systems. 

Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights

• Identified the importance of having a unique reference model for lunar irradiance, so to maintain coherence within analysis procedures, namely the USGS ROLO spectral output specific to instrument filter functions.

• Discussed the possibility to have at disposal for all potential users a web-procedure to retrieve extra-terrestrial lunar irradiances thanks to an agreement and joint efforts of USGS and AERONET

• Discussed the need to work together to identify standard procedures and reach the operational level necessary to realize a network for polar regions and  connect it to measurements at lower latitudes.

• Discussed the need to assess the absolute uncertainty of computed ROLO model outputs, or the more properly called error - the difference between ROLO-generated data and the true exo-atmospheric irradiance (EAI) of the Moon. With no supplemental reference for the EAI, the only option is a Type-B uncertainty analysis, i.e. an approach that relies on external information rather than statistical interpretation of measurements (i.e. a Type-A analysis, which has been done with ROLO and has led to the quoted ~1% relative precision).

Arctic Climate Change and Mid-Latitude Weather Phenomena

When: 16-17 April 2015 | Where: Vienna (Austria)

In recent years, the issue of possible linkages between mid-latitude winter weather and Arctic sea ice reduction has gained prominence. Following a very successful workshop on this issue, and to continue the focused scientific debate, the AWG organizes and sponsors a session on this issue at the 2015 European Geosciences Union General Assembly. The session will be split into a poster and discussion session (April 16th) and an oral session (April 17th). The session welcomes contributions on Northern Hemispheric extreme weather events, Atmospheric circulation and Arctic climate change. Especially welcome are contributions that address the question of linkages between these.

Halldór Björnsson

Scientific Highlights

• Evidence of climate models showing a strong consensus on stationary wave response in global warming scenario stimulations was presented, which has implications for dry/wet hydroclimate change across North America and Europe, such as wetting on the west coast of the USA, drying in the southwest USA, drying in the eastern Mediterranean and also on Arctic amplification. However, the forcing driving this stationary wave response was not Arctic change per se.

• Evidence was presented for a multi-link chain linking North Atlantic Oscillation to Pacific variability through sea ice and El Nino Southern Oscillation variability. While connections between processes involving such a multi-link chain may appear tenuous, this talk served as a reminder that the system under study is complex with many inter-connected processes.

• A study was presented on the question of a hiatus in global temperatures and especially whether the data sparsity in the Arctic is responsible for some of the regional warming being missed in global summaries of temperature. It related the hiatus to data gaps in the Arctic. Interestingly enough, this was countered with the claim that the hiatus was due to a lack of warming at low latitudes (and especially processes in the Equatorial Pacific). The fact that such an important topic was debated in this way reinforced the importance of maintaining good observation systems, especially in the Arctic.


Workshop on Dynamics of Atmosphere-Ice-Ocean Interactions in High Latitudes

When: 23-27 March 2015 | Where: Rosendal (Norway)

Building on results from The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX), which is a World Weather Research Program (WWRP), and in an effort to contribute to the WWRP Polar Prediction Project, a workshop on the Dynamics of Atmosphere – Ice – Ocean Interactions in High Latitudes will be held in March 2015. The main objective of the workshop, which is organized by the University of Bergen, is to bring together international scientists to explore the connections between their areas of expertise, encompassing operational forecasting, observational and theoretical research, climate dynamics, predictability and the impact of severe weather events in the Polar Regions. A specific focus of the workshop will be on the processes occurring in the coupled atmosphere-ocean-ice system and state of the art modeling and understanding.

John Cassano

Scientific Highlights

• Discussed the definition of an extreme event and the difference between extreme and high-impact weather, considering not only strong wind events, but also sudden warming events, fog, avalanches, as well as extreme events in the ocean, such as abrupt changes in the ocean convection or in the biological components of the Arctic environment.

• Discussed how observational systems should be designed, considering what kind of device, and what spatial and temporal resolution is needed in order to deal with large  fluxes in ocean-atmosphere during the fall season, summer cyclones and melt onset in spring.

• Illustrated that advanced diagnostics in operational numerical weather or mediumrange prediction systems can be implemented. This would be made possible by improving understanding of the genesis of polar lows using the adjoint model.     

• Discussed the shortcomings and advantages in observation and modelling, considering topics such as Arctic Amplification (AA), latent heat transport, CMIP5 and CMIP3 time series, and NWP models.


Arctic Air Pollution Workshop

When: 3-5 February 2015 | Where: Boulder, Colorado

Arctic warming is leading to new local sources of Arctic pollution with poorly quantified local emissions. The Arctic Air Pollutions workshop,reviewed the many results on this topic, building on past and ongoing activities to study the combined impacts of local and remote Arctic air pollutions and to improve chemical-aerosol models and impacts. The workshop was co-sponsored by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) core project on International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC).

Kathy Law

Workshop Summary

Scientific Highlights

• Improved understanding of the relative roles of local versus remote sources of Arctic air pollution emissions and their response to past and future Arctic and global change, relative to natural emissions;

• Improved understanding of long-range transport, pollutant processing, scavenging, wet/dry deposition processes and improved representation in models;

• Improved understanding of current and projected impacts of emerging local Arctic pollution sources;

• Improved connectivity with Arctic communities and engagement in citizen science initiatives to increase sampling network, improve knowledge exchange and increase the relevancy of new knowledge. Similar discussions were had about improved connectivity with industry and the regulatory community.

• Extensive and sustained vertical sampling well-coordinated with surface-based sites, and targeted at improved process understanding, especially in poorly sampled locations or time periods (e.g. polar night).




Atmospheric chemistry workshop: Local sources of Arctic pollution and their impacts

When: December 2013 | Where: AGU San Francisco

It is traditionally thought that Arctic pollution (ozone, aerosols) is primarily imported from mid-latitudes. However, local Arctic pollution sources such as metal smelting, flaring also appear to be important although such emissions are poorly quantified. Boreal/agricultural fires are also an important pollution source. In addition, due to rapid climate change and economic development, Arctic emissions from shipping, oil/gas extraction, mining and associated industrialization are likely to increase in the near future. This session invited contributions on local Arctic pollution sources and their current/future impacts on regional air quality, climate and ecosystems as well as studies contrasting local versus remote pollution sources.

Kathy Law

Scientific Highlights

• Discussed the direct (aerosols, ozone) and indirect ways (deposition of black carbon on snow) in which pollutants are impacting the Arctic, as well as the sources of atmospheric pollution in the Arctic, which include long-range transport from major emission regions, mineral smelting and flaring associated with oil/gas extraction.  

• Discussed different chemistry-climate models that simulate distributions of important pollutants in the Arctic such as black carbon and ozone to further advance and improve quantification of local Arctic emissions

• Discussed future field activities to improve quantification of local pollution and possible impacts on climate, regional air quality and ecosystems

Northern Hemisphere Polar Jet Stream and Links with Arctic Climate Change Workshop

When: 13-15 November 2013 | Where: Reykjavik, Iceland

The goal of the workshop was to assess the state of knowledge of Northern Hemisphere polar jet stream change and mechanisms, focusing on mid-high latitude linkages and the recent occurrence of extreme weather events as noted in the popular press. Such events have been particularly seen in eastern North America, northern Europe and far eastern Asia and are generalized by regional changes in geo-potential heights, increased meridional flow, a slowing of the jet, and a tendency for a negative Arctic Oscillation pattern to occur in three of the last four winters and in the last six summers. Potential Arctic mid-latitude linkages in these events are controversial, although there are several recent science articles in support of such connections. Thus, we will investigate the importance of Arctic forcing relative to the more chaotic flow at mid-latitudes. Are the mechanisms similar or different in these separate regions?

The workshop met the core international science objectives (IASC, CliC and WCRP) of Polar Prediction and potential global impacts of Arctic change. An series of presentations based on recent scientific work was held, finishing with a matrix laying out current understanding based on geographic location and relevant dynamics: for example direct forcing, stratospheric control, or amplification of a downstream jet stream pattern. We recommended further modeling statistical and dynamic analyses of recent and future jet stream and storminess changes. Synthesis on this topic will be a theme for the Third International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP III) in 2015.

James Overland

Scientific Highlights

• Sorting causality and attribution of linkages between Arctic forcing and changes in mid-latitude chaotic flow is difficult, and the statistical record that support increased variability and the possibility of linkages from observed extremes is too short. The workshop thus discussed the need for more mechanistic studies to go beyond correlation of reanalyses or model outputs and advance scientific proof for the Arctic/mid-latitude linkages.  

• Discussed potential research ideas which include further analysis of phase and wave number of the long-wave pattern/blocking, especially east of Urals and west of Greenland. Regional blocking and highly amplified flows often are coincident with Arctic-wide warming patterns. Elucidation of the underlying mechanisms of change may also result from a focus on weekly to monthly time scales and factors driving the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO).

• Identified the need for more rigorous hemispheric and regional case studies of changes in jet-stream variability and recent extreme AO/North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Greenland Blocking events like March 2013, winter 2009-2010 and summer 2012.

• Discussed the need to improve model studies in their support of linakages, especially the climate models that were used in the CMIP5 effort. The need for increased resolution and examination of multiple individual ensemble members (as opposed to averaging model output across members), a better understanding of climate-model biases in response to Arctic sea-ice loss and a clearer attribution of the recent sea-ice decline as well as of extreme weather events was identified. Climate models seem unable to capture the recently observed highly-amplified jet-stream wave pattern, neither do they well represent the stratospheric polar vortex, but a more concerted model and attribution focus on high latitudes would help.

MOSAiC Science Plan Writing Workshop

When: May 29-30, 2013 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

During the MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting observatory for the study of Arctic climate) workshop in Potsdam, hosted by the Alfred Wegener Institute, M. Shupe gave an overview presentation of the MOSAiC project reviewing the science questions developed during the Boulder workshop in June 2012.

During the Potsdam workshop breakout groups for the subsystems atmosphere, ocean and sea ice were built to identify research topics with high priorities followed by plenary discussions. In the same way breakout groups for modeling and measurements had been build to identify top research topics followed by plenary discussions.

Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights

• Identified research topics with high priorities for the subsystems atmosphere, ocean and sea ice, as well as modeling and measurements in breakout groups

• Updated science questions:   
- What are the seasonally-varying energy sources, mixing processes, and interfacial fluxes that affect the surface heat budget of first-year sea ice?   
- How does sea ice move and deform over its first year of existence?
- What processes contribute to the formation, properties, and maintenance of Arctic clouds and their interactions with boundary-layer structure?
- Will an ice-reduced Arctic become more biologically productive and what are the consequences of this to other components of the system?  
- How do interfacial exchange rates, biology and chemistry couple to regulate the major elemental cycles in the high Arctic sea ice?  
- How do ongoing changes in the Arctic ice-ocean-atmosphere system impact heat and mass transfers of importance to climate and ecosystems

IASOA Workshop

When: May 2013 | Location: Vancouver, Canada

The International Arctic Systems for Observing the Atmosphere (IASOA) half-day workshop at the Arctic Observing Summit (AOS) was convened for the purpose of initiating two IASOA topical working groups (Black Carbon and Surface Radiation), focusing on the near-term goal of developing two contributions to the 2013 Arctic Report Card. The IASC-supported meeting combined a local (Vancouver) audience of 14 participants with more than 10 additional remote participants via webinar. IASOA has spent five years developing its coordinating potential across ten independently-funded observatories. Those efforts to date have resulted in a growing community of science collaborators, improved documentation of the observatories, platforms and observing assets, as well as initial documentation of the hundreds of datasets collected from these observatories over several decades.

It has long been the intention of IASOA founders that the consortium would move towards creating pan-Arctic synthesis science. IASOA is ecologically broad in its coverage of the Arctic atmosphere including tundra, estuary, coastal and high elevation; it is deep in its concentration of dozens of long-term measurements at single locations – process studies, systems science, interdisciplinary; and it is long in its decades long records of parameters. Many topical areas of potential interest have been identified by the IASOA steering committee; of these Black Carbon and Surface Radiation emerged as two areas of valuable long-term data, strong interest and willing participation.

The charge to these working groups was both general (identify the specific datasets of interest, their level of readiness for inter-comparison, recommendations for standardization, etc.) and specific: How can these datasets contribute to the discourse on Arctic change, as represented in the annual Arctic Report Card publication?

Workshop Summary

Scientific Highlights

• Discussed how trends and events in IASOA Black Carbon observations could contribute to the Arctic Report Card (ARC), specifically found that sufficient long-term measurements, particularly in the aethalometer data, can establish background levels and long-term trends.

• As most sites have considerable work to do to get their aetholometer data quality checked & submitted to the WDC to support a comparison, it was decided that first ARC submission should focus on “ready to go” sites (Alert, Barrow, Ny-Alesund) to look at trends & extreme events.

• Discussed whether the sensitivity of the radiation instruments (+/-1 to 2 W/ m2) was adequate for describing long term trends that might only be on that same order. A second consideration was whether they should instead use the surface obs to validate a product like ERA 40 to study spatial pattern (see slide 14-15) A third consideration was whether they could combine radiation analysis of 2013 with any extreme events, such as the widespread Greenland melt in 2012.

Third Polar Prediction Workshop

When: January 14, 2013 | Location: Tokyo, Japan

In conjunction with the ISAR-3 (3rd International Synosium on Arctic Research), the AWG workshop was held in Tokyo, Japan on 14 January 2013. The theme of the workshop was “Rapid Arctic Climate Change,“ and it included a wide range of topics on Arctic climate change:

  1. Polar Predictability
  2. Arctic amplification
  3. Linkage to Global Process

Recent rapid Arctic warming is regarded as a research frontier in Arctic research and the AWG considers the Arctic amplification as one of the most important research subjects. It is important to realize that the Arctic amplification is the most effective cooling mechanism of the Earth in response to anthropogenic global warming. The Arctic amplification results in the Arctic Oscillation (AO) negative, causing a warm Arctic and cold mid-latitudes, and cooling the entire Earth system. The results of the workshop suggest that the melting of Arctic sea ice decelerates global warming.

Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights

• Discussed mechanisms of Arctic amplification in MIROC GCMU, specifically relative contributions of feedback processes to Arctic amplification in MIROC3 and MIROC5. It was found that MIROC5 has a stronger Arctic amplification than MIROC3, and that the major difference is seen in the albedo feedback. It was suggested that the warming aloft is larger in MIROC3 due to the larger climate sensitivity in MIROC3 which induces larger moist-static energy transport to the Arctic.  

• Discussed three major sources of uncertainty in climate model predictions which are 1) uncertainties in scenarios of greenhouse forcing 2)formulational differences among models 3)internal (low-frequency) variability in data and models
• Discussed teleconnection between Arctic amplification and East Asia, specifically how Arctic sea-ice reduction and stratospheric sudden warming is related. Using snow initialization, considerable potential predictability can be increased.

• Discussed abrupt climate changes and emerging ice-ocean processes in the Pacific Arctic, specifically on inter-annual and intra-seasonal variability in Dipole Anomaly (DA). Positive Dipole Anomaly is the leading forcing to ice minima, while negative DA is to the ice maxima. Positive DA has an asymmetric forcing of sea ice compared to negative DA since there exists TDS. Thus, it was suggested that the loss of sea ice is difficult to recover unless there is “extreme” cooling event to change the tendency.


Arctic Climate Predictions Workshop

When: October 2012 | Location: Seattle, Canada

Multiple Groups such as the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) and various national programs are interested in having Arctic climate projections as one source of information towards an Arctic Change Assessment. Loss of sea ice and global change, marine access, species impacts, impacts on coastal communities, and governance are all drivers for the need for increased information. The Atmospheric Working Group of IASC and the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) are interested in the science of Arctic climate change and polar prediction. A group of 27 researchers representing eight counties came together in the fall of 2012 in Seattle to discuss the state of the science, what might be possible give current data and model results, and to provide guidance on a way forward.

Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights

• Concluded that for decadal time scale (2020-2040) predictions, it is justifiable to use a single emission scenario because on this time scale the differences between scenarios are small. Approaches for combining CMIP5 model projections with observed data and expert judgment should be explored.

• Concluded that two centennial time scale (2080-2100) predictions based on existing multiple model ensemble results for two emission scenarios should be developed: substantial mitigation and business as usual. At this time scale results show that uncertainties are largest from the choice of emission scenarios.

•Concluded that input from users to refine climate scenarios is needed. Match location, time horizon, month and variable to communicate at the user/climate interface. This information helps constrain the climate problem.

• Concluded that projections should include standardized probabilistic statements. It was recommended that using IPCC nomenclature such as “likely,” “very likely,” etc.

• Identified the need for physical consistency in results, e.g. temperature, sea ice, and precipitation projections are not created independently.

The International Arctic Systems for Observing the Atmosphere (IASOA)

The AWG endorsed IASOA at its meeting in April in Montreal. The mission of IASOA is to mobilize expertise from pan-Arctic atmospheric observatories towards research and operational imperatives through coordinating observational capacity development at independent Arctic flagship observatories into a coherent observing network, supporting data access and usability and through contributing to societally-relevant and synergistic science. Observatories in the IASOA context are defined as facilities that support both long-term measurements (meteorological, GAW, BSRN, etc.) and collect data to support process-level studies. Each IASOA observatory features extensive suites of co-located, research grade active, passive and in-situ observing systems. Atmospheric characteristics of interest are standard meteorology, greenhouse gases, atmospheric radiation, clouds, pollutants, chemistry, aerosols, and surface energy balances.

For more information on IASOA see

For a full description of IASOA see the report on the scientific value of IASOA prepared for the AWG.

Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights

• Facilitated international approach that identifies which sustained atmospheric observing assets and which observatories are most essential for tackling relevant scientific challenges that include: i)Improving understanding of the source regions and radiative forcing effects of short-lived climate forcers (black carbon, ozone, methane) and their role in Arctic amplification; ii) improving understanding of processes controlling the formation, longevity, and physical properties of Arctic clouds, including the effects of, and sensitivities to, aerosols; iii) developing an integrated understanding of Arctic atmospheric processes, their impact on the surface energy budget, and their linkages with oceanic, terrestrial, and cryospheric systems.

• Coordinated data sharing and observational expertise to broader assessment and synthesis efforts: i) continue to ingest more datasets into the growing archive of inventoried data from IASOA observatories hosted through the IASOA data portal (; ii). Continue to identify and coordinate opportunities to furnish IASOA observational expertise to relevant assessment (e.g. AMAP) and synthesis science (e.g. Arctic Report Card) activities; iii). Act as an information resource on relevant campaign activities occurring at IASOA observatories.

• With a focus on developing usable science from observational data both within and outside the fundamental research community developed through direct work with stakeholders: i) continue to identify opportunities within the discovery science community to put IASOA observations to better use for model evaluation and to address those opportunities through furnishing the appropriate expertise; ii) continue to identify opportunities outside the discovery science community (e.g. regulators, managers, operators, etc.) to put IASOA observations to better use and to address those opportunities through furnishing the appropriate expertise.

Multi-disciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of the Arctic Climate (MOSAiC): Planning Activities and Workshops for organizing and defining the scientific need and producing science and implementation plans

When: 27-29 June 2012 I Location: Boulder, CO, USA

The proposed initiative would deploy a multi-disciplinary, international manned multi-year drifting station in the Arctic Ocean to obtain detailed climate-related observations not currently available. Key science issues for the atmosphere, cryosphere, and oceans were addressed by this deployment, with scientific issues for the biosphere also likely addressed. It was anticipated that both the infrastructure and funding for the observatory and resulting research would be provided by an international consortium of countries and science agencies. This request was to support the planning process of the proposed project. An interdisciplinary workshop was initially planned to define the key science questions to be addressed with this observatory. This workshop followed meetings in Potsdam and Denver during the fall of 2011, and represented a key step for producing project documentation (a science plan and an implementation plan) necessary to formally propose such an observatory to science directorates and funding agencies in the participating countries. This workshop was held in Boulder, Colorado, USA, on June 27-30, 2012. A second workshop was preliminarily planned for autumn 2012 to produce the final Science Plan and a draft of the Implementation Plan.

Workshop Summary

Scientific Highlights

• Discussed key Arctic issues for the atmosphere, cryosphere, ocean, and biosphere, with an emphasis on those involving interdisciplinary interactions.

• Described the atmospheric boundary layer over the Arctic Ocean, emphasizing its generally cloudy nature. Pointed out that the boundary layer is a vertically continuous system with the following processes: 1) heat flux from ocean through the ice & vice versa; 2) turbulent fluxes through the atmospheric boundary layer; 3) boundary layer clouds and interactions with aerosols; and 4) radiation interactions with clouds and surface; that all play key roles to impact the Arctic and global climate system.

• Discussed outstanding Arctic atmospheric science issues which include : 1) the Arctic boundary layer is defined in context of the vertical thermal, humidity, and cloud structure of the lower troposphere, with temporal variability. Measurements of this atmospheric structure and associated processes are very limited and generally incomplete, especially when it comes to non-summer seasons. 2) clouds are poorly represented in models, including regional and global climate models. Aspects that are poorly reproduced and whose processes we still don’t understand include cloud phase determination; cloud interactions with aerosols; microphysical, dynamical, and thermodynamic interactions; radiative responses to microphysical variations. 3) processes linking clouds, cloud microphysics, BL structure, radiative fluxes, BL fluxes, BL turbulence, and precipitation are complex and are current topics of research.

• Proposed year-round measurements for important processes that are poorly understood which include a) formation and impacts of cloudtop moisture inversions; b) coupling/decoupling of vertical eddies formed by cloud-top cooling with surface-based turbulence; c) role and source(s) of aerosols as CCN and IN for producing clouds and modulating cloud phase and surface cloud forcing in the low-concentration Arctic environment; d) long-range transport vs local sources of aerosols. 4) documenting and understanding the heterogeneity of near-surface processes, the atmospheric impact of this heterogeneity, and the likely reduction of heterogeneity with height in the atmosphere.

Perceptions and Representations of Polar (Climate) Science

Lead Convenors: James Overland (NOAA, ) and Peter Schweitzer (University of Alaska Fairbanks, When: 22-27 April, 2012 | Location: IPY 2012 Montréal Conference

Polar science faces a strange conundrum: while recent years (and the Fourth IPY in particular) have brought massive advances in understanding the polar systems, popular understanding of these processes seems to be diminishing. In light of tremendous changes threatening the state of the system in the Arctic and elsewhere, mis-perceptions and representations of polar climate science become a matter of concern for society at large. Given the critical role media and politics play in that field, representatives from these arenas gave presentations as part of the session, as did academics. The latter group included climate scientists, historians of science, as well as social scientists trying to understand the current situation.

Part of Area 3 (From Knowledge to Action) - Parallel Session

3.2.1 Organized by the Chairs of both the IASC Atmosphere WG and Social and Human Sciences WG.

A summary of the session, published in EOS by James Overland and Peter Schweitzer, can be downloaded here.

Session Summary

Scientific Highlights

• Discussed misperceptions and lack of application of polar science, given the diminishing level of popular understanding of the Arctic as an early indicator of global change, in light of the ongoing physical and social changes noted during the IPY. Representatives from both climate and social scientists gathered to discuss the issue in depth, given the critical role media and politics play in society’s perceptions of the North.

• Concluded that failure to communicate the potential impacts of Arctic change is not the main issue. Rather, it was pointed out by several media and social scientists that a lack of receptivity or cultural predisposition act as roadblocks to broader understanding of potential risks and opportunities in the Arctic and beyond. Facts are primarily adopted when they fit prior beliefs. Threatening information is often dismissed. Further, climate change has become a political wedge issue.

• Recommended reframing information so that it is more relevant while non-threatening to the intended audience. Another conclusion was that persistence of the message is important. The Conference included emphasis on secondary education within and without the Arctic and highlighted the role of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS). These young people will have to live with and respond to future polar changes.

IASC/WCRP Polar Climate Predictability Workshop

When: 2-4 April 2012 Location: Toronto, Canada

Over the last few decades, the Polar Regions have exhibited some of the most striking manifestations of climate change. Due to the polar amplification of the greenhouse-gas effect, the Arctic has been warming at a rate several times higher than the rest of the globe. At the same time, the average Antarctic sea-ice extent is observed to be slightly increasing, contrary to the model predictions (but with very high regional and temporal variability). The strong coupling between polar oceans, sea ice, troposphere, and stratosphere calls for an interdisciplinary approach to research on this regional climate system. Modern climate prediction systems, especially on the seasonal time scale, mostly rely on teleconnections originating from the tropical regions such as those associated with ENSO. However, recent studies have shown the existence of predictability associated with interactions in the climate system that involve aspects of mid- and polar latitudes such as soil moisture, snow cover, sea-ice, solar variability, etc. Theoretical studies also suggest the possibility of having a predictable climate signal on the decadal time scale with maximal signal-to-noise ratio in subpolar areas.

Reviewing the knowns and unknowns in this area of research, with the goal of identifying chains of processes that may lead to predictable skill for seasonal to multi-decadal time scales was the main motivation for the WCRP workshop in Bergen in October 2010. It brought together a wide range of experts on polar climate variability and predictability. They had diverse backgrounds covering all the above-mentioned physical disciplines and worked using all types of scientific methodologies with results stemming from making and analyzing observations, conducting field and model experiments, and even using heuristic approaches. The workshop identified prospective avenues for polar climate research in the Arctic and Antarctic, and summarized the current state of knowledge of polar climate predictability. An important outcome of the workshop was making participants aware of the existence of considerable expertise relevant for their research in other, previously less known to them, parts of the WCRP community.

Based on the recommendations from the workshop, a group of people chaired by Ted Shepherd is working on the implementation considerations for a WCRP polar climate predictability initiative. Several people in the group are also affiliated with other research entities such as the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), and particularly the IASC Working Group on Atmosphere. For that reason this activity enjoys the interest and support of IASC. A WCRP workshop was held in Toronto on 2-4 April 2012, which was co-sponsored by IASC to discuss an implementation strategy for the initiative. A draft strategy will be presented to the JSC-33 in Beijing July 2012.

For more information go to:

Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights

• Discussed recent studies which have shown the existence of predictability associated with interactions in the climate system that involve aspects of mid- and polar latitudes such as soil moisture, snow cover, sea-ice, solar variability, etc. Theoretical studies also suggest the possibility of having a predictable climate signal on the decadal time scale with maximal signal-to-noise ratio in subpolar areas.

• Reviewed the knowns and unknowns in this area of research, with the goal of identifying chains of processes that may lead to the predictable skill for seasonal to multi-decadal time scales.

• Identified prospective avenues for polar climate research in the Arctic and Antarctic, and summarized the current state of knowledge of polar climate predictability.

• Discussed impacts of atmospheric jet strength and position on the oceans, sea-ice, ice sheets, and carbon flux.

• Discussed relative roles of modes of climate variability in the fully coupled ocean-atmosphere-ice system. 


"Coupled Processes in the Arctic System" Special Session at AGU

December 2011 | San Fransisco, USA

Coupled Processes in the Arctic System: Feedbacks, Amplification, and Impacts on Mid-latitudes. Through multiple feedbacks and amplification processes, Arctic Changes are occurring earlier than anticipated from anthropogenic contributions alone. These interactions are occurring between atmosphere,permafrost, vegetation, hydrology, geomorphology, biogeochemistry, snow, clouds, sea and glacial ice, and the oceans over a range of space and time scales. These changes are also beginning to impact sub-Arctic oceans, land, and atmospheric circulation. We welcome observational, theoretical, and numerical studies focused on emergent, nonlinear, and threshold dominated amplification processes and teleconnections.

Scientific Highlights


Mini Workshops at WCRP Open Science Conference

Lead by: Workshop 1 - Jim Overland and Hiroshi Tanaka, Workshop 2 - Klaus Dethloff | Location: Denver, USA | When: 23 October 2011

The IASC Atmosphere Working Group held two mini-workshop in conjunction with the WCRP Open Science Conference in Denver in October. The mini workshops took place on Sunday, October 23. The first was a workshop on polar predictability/arctic amplification and will include people from WCRP and other interested organizations. The focus was on the development of a large arctic amplification workshop co-sponsored by WCRP in early 2012. The leads for this workshop are Jim Overland and Hiroshi Tanaka. The second workshop was on the development of a drifting ice station experiment. The focus during this workshop was to sum-up the outcome of the AIDA-R Workshop that was chaired by Klaus Dethloff on September 26-27, 2011 in Potsdam. The day ended with an open meeting of the Atmosphere WG. All workshops and meetings were open to the public.

Minutes Mini-workshop: Polar Predictability

Minutes Mini-workshop: New Arctic Field Experiment

Scientific Highlights

• Discussed findings from ecological studies focused on the interactions of Subarctic and Arctic marine ecosystems.  

• Discussed how exchanges of water masses and their associated flora and fauna strongly link the marine Arctic and the Subarctic.

• Discussed how simultaneous to the significant warming fo the Arctic and sea ice loss, marked changes at various trophic levels in the ecosystems of these latitude areas have also been observed. Discussed that from climate change scenarios, in the future both Subarctic and Arctic regions are likely to experience greater warming and transformation.

• Improved understanding of how climate variability and change will affect the structure and function of these marine ecosystems in the future, including biogeochemical processes.  

• Advanced knowledge of the role of physical, chemical, and biological fluxes between the Subarctic and the Arctic and the fate of the transported organisms were of particular interest.

• Compared different Arctic and Subarctic regions, covering multiple trophic levels or investigate biophysical coupling.

"Kick-Off Workshop on Arctic measurements to validate sub-grid scale parameterizations and to improve the performance of regional and global climate models in the Arctic"

26-27 September 2011 I Potsdam, Germany

Workshop Document

Workshop Summary

Scientific Highlights

• Discussed atmospheric measurements of surface energy balance, heat and moisture fluxes, cloud and aerosol properties, water vapor and ozone, all of which are essential for the understanding of key processes in the Arctic climate system.

• Identified the need for a combination of in-situ process studies over an annual cycle, long-term climate process monitoring, regional and global climate modelling to improve the insufficient understanding of the Arctic climate system and the performance of regional and global models. It was found that the merging of observations and modelling dealing with complex processes operating on wide range of spatial and temporal scales, interacting with each other sometimes in very nonlinear ways is necessary especially to improve parameterisations of sub-grid scale processes.

• With only long-term, ground-based operational observations of key Arctic atmospheric parameters limited to land areas and only few measurements over the ocean and sea-ice in the central Arctic Basin, the workshop identified the need for coordinated atmospheric measurements in the whole vertical column to understand the important processes related to clouds, aerosols, precipitation, atmospheric structure, large-scale circulation, vertical exchanges of heat, moisture and momentum through the tropopause, and surface energy budget, which govern the regional Arctic climate and dictate its response to changing globally.

• Concluded that long time series covering the whole annual cycle are required to understand the variability inherent in these processes, particularly as they respond to major climate shifts such as a drastic decrease in sea-ice concentration and shifts in teleconnection patterns