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Arctic Science Summit Week to Focus on Climate Change

Scientists, policy makers meet March 14-20
Ross Virginia
Ross Virginia, director of Dartmouth's Institute for Arctic Studies, speaks on climate change at the Hood Museum of Art Feb. 20. Virginia is one of the organizers of this month's Arctic Science Summit Week. (Photo by Sarah Memmi)

More than 200 scientists, engineers, policy makers and representatives of native peoples will convene at Dartmouth March 14 through 20 for Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW), a rare chance for international coordination between science, governance, and social policy with the shared goal of better understanding and protecting the Arctic.

The summit falls at the start of International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008. IPY is an intensive, global campaign of coordinated polar observations and analysis with special relevance to understanding climate change and its consequences. The Dartmouth meeting is an inaugural event for the United States and its international involvement in IPY. The seven-day summit will provide opportunities for collaboration and cooperation in all areas of Arctic science. The ASSW will offer insight into Arctic research undertaken by the United States and its connections to the international polar community. Side meetings organized by other groups with interests in Arctic science and policy will take place at the same time.

"ASSW has a special relevance now, in light of the recently issued Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report," says summit organizer Ross Virginia, director of the Institute of Arctic Studies within the Dickey Center for International Understanding. "Based on the findings of the IPCC, there can be no doubt that climate change is here and it's real. The scientists and policy makers convening for ASSW are relevant to both the science that has gone into the IPCC and the solutions that will take us forward." Virginia is also a professor of environmental studies.

A panel titled "The Human Dimension: Policy Challenges of a Changing Arctic," will focus on exploring the international community's preparedness to deal with the environmental, political, economic, security, health, and social aspects of climate change in the North. Dickey Center Director and former U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz says that it will "address the policy challenges of a changing Arctic, while building on the work of the Dickey Center and Dartmouth to promote collaborative solutions by governments, the academy, and native peoples. The Dickey Center emphasizes finding interdisciplinary solutions to pressing issues of global scale."

Other features of the program include the March 14 symposium, "Technology for Innovative Observation" that will address innovations in techniques and technologies that further polar research and the observation of global change.

From March 14 through 20, Arctic Science Summit Week will address both the environmental and social consequences of climate change in the Arctic. (Photo by Milos Peric/

March 15 has been designated as Science Day, to emphasize the New International Science Partnerships forged by IPY and will feature talks by leading scientists on the state of the Arctic and its future. The public is invited to attend all conference sessions that day. Virginia says it is "specifically designed to reach out beyond the scientific community about the work polar researchers do."

The following day will be Project Day, during which the participants will address the legacy of IPY and the development of sustainable funding and partnerships for polar research. On the concluding day of the summit, titled Common Day, working groups will present the outcomes of the planning meetings, and coordinate upcoming actions.

Immediately following the summit, the ASSW organizing committee plans to release a summary on the findings and the conclusions reached by the participants.
The summit is co-hosted by the Dickey Center for International Understanding and its Institute of Arctic Studies, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL). The ASSW organizations include the International Arctic Sciences Committee, the Arctic Ocean Sciences Board, the European Polar Board, the Pacific Arctic Group, and the Forum of Arctic Research Operators. Other participants include the U.S. Polar Research Board, University of the Arctic, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, and national representatives of the IPY.
For more details, visit the Arctic Science Summit Week Web site or call 646-1278.


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Last Updated: 12/17/08