Published: Oct. 18, 2021

Banner image: Scientists on a Greeland ice shelf. (Photo by Jason Gulley, July 2020)

Warming due to climate change over the past three decades has been three times greater in the Arctic than the global average. The loss of sea and land ice and the thawing of permafrost in Arctic ecosystems, and their potential to enhance climate change, are critical concerns that have fostered substantial research over the past three decades. Short comprehensive summaries of the results from this research will inform mitigation of the environmental impacts.

To promote an understanding of the science underlying climate change impacts in the Arctic, CU Boulder/INSTAAR’s journal Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research (AAAR) is teaming up with SEARCH, the Study of Environmental Arctic Change, to release an ongoing series of short articles called “Arctic Answers.” SEARCH is a collaborative program of Arctic researchers, Indigenous experts, decision makers and funding agencies that facilitates synthesis of Arctic science and communicates our current understanding to help society respond to a rapidly changing Arctic.

Until now, Arctic Answers have been available only on the SEARCH website. With the new partnership, new and updated Arctic Answers science briefs will be published open access in AAAR.

Arctic Answers are two-page summaries developed to “provide expert and broadly accessible answers to specific questions about the changing Arctic environment” according to Brendan Kelly, chief scientist and director of SEARCH at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Topics covered in the newly published Arctic Answers series in AAAR include how rapidly the sea ice and Greenland ice sheets are melting, how disappearing sea ice will impact the climate, how the loss of sea ice will impact commercial fishing, and the role of permafrost in a warming Arctic.

The target audience for Arctic Answers includes policy experts, resource managers, research scientists, students and generally anyone interested in climate change research. Publishing Arctic Answers in AAAR will “increase the visibility of these science briefs, attract future authors and provide summaries of critical Arctic issues to a wider audience,” noted George Kling, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan and member of the SEARCH community.

Marika Holland, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, observed, "I will read Arctic Answers to understand what is important in other disciplines."

One Congressional advisor remarked enthusiastically, “I use these (Arctic Answers) all the time.” Indeed, authors of Arctic Answers available on the SEARCH website have been asked to testify on climate crisis matters before Congress.

Kelly noted that “SEARCH is about informing decisions with up-to-date understanding from scientific and Indigenous experts, and we are excited going forward to have AAAR publishing Arctic Answers as a special section of the journal.”

“I think of Arctic Answers as a novel kind of Arctic pipeline: scientific knowledge accessibly delivered to inform policy addressing our climate crisis,” commented Jen Hall-Bowman, managing editor of Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research.