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NOAA releases Arctic Action Plan


April 21, 2014
Monday PM

(SitNews - Ketchikan, Alaska) - NOAA explained how it will concentrate scientific, service, and stewardship efforts in the Arctic when it released its first ever Arctic Vision and Strategy. Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, made the announcement during a keynote address to the Aspen Institute in Washington on April 16th. However, the plan was released today.

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"The Arctic is at once a majestic, harsh, and fragile environment. It’s the region where we are seeing the most rapid and dramatic changes in the climate. And these regional changes have global implications,” said Lubchenco in her speech last week. “NOAA’s Arctic plan builds on our research history in that region to prepare us for a changing Arctic that will affect our economic, environmental, and strategic interests. The time to refocus our efforts is now and strong local, regional and international partnerships are required if we are to succeed.”

NOAA identified the Arctic as one of its priority areas in its 2010-2017 Strategic Plan and 2010 annual guidance memorandum, which serve to focus the agency’s efforts on key objectives.

The NOAA Arctic Vision and Strategy lists six goals:

  • Forecast sea ice
  • Strengthen foundational science to understand and detect Arctic climate and ecosystem changes
  • Improve weather and water forecasts and warnings
  • Enhance international and national partnerships
  • Improve stewardship and management of ocean and coastal resources in the Arctic
  • Advance resilient and healthy Arctic communities and economies

These goals require coordination of all NOAA’s capabilities, including fisheries management, weather and sea forecasting, climate services, mapping and charting, oil spill readiness and response, observations by satellite, ship, and aircraft, and oceanic, atmospheric, and climate research.

This plan also contains an appendix listing more than 80 actions that NOAA will take in 2014 and 2015 to support Arctic-related missions and mandates and to further the scientific understanding of the region.

U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) was both pleased and concerned following the release today of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Arctic Action Plan.

In a prepared statement Begich said, “I am glad the administration continues to plan for changes in the Arctic—but we need more than just plans sitting on a shelf. Without a serious commitment of resources, the U.S. will find itself unprepared for growing activity in the Arctic.”

Begich said, “NOAA has taken some concrete action, including developing an Arctic version of its oil spill response management software, and is starting to improve Arctic weather and sea-ice forecasts, but there is still too much to do. The U.S. Government Accountability Office in a report issued last week noted that only 1% of the nation’s waters in the Arctic have been charted with modern methods. In other areas we are relying on leadline surveys made during the age of sail. Unless the administration commits serious resources to Arctic science, we will be decades behind other nations when it comes to Arctic development. That’s why I introduced the Arctic Research, Monitoring and Observing Act last year, and why I will continue to fight to make sure the administration backs up its plans with concrete action.”

“I'm glad to see NOAA's Arctic Vision and Strategy recognizes the need in Alaska for expanded sea ice forecasting, weather observations, water level information and geodetic control. The Alaska Immediate Action Workgroup has identified the importance of these data in our efforts to protect Alaska communities already experiencing coastal erosion and flooding and in planning for possible future development in coastal areas,” said Larry Hartig, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

“NOAA envisions an Arctic where decisions to ensure that precious Arctic ecosystems and communities remain healthy and resilient, now and for future generations,” according to Lubchenco. “To do that, we must better understand and predict the changes that are happening in the Arctic, in some cases faster than previously projected.”

The loss of summer sea ice is one such example of rapid change. Record minimum sea ice was recorded in 2007 and has remained low, suggesting that 2007 was not a single extreme event.

The significant loss of summer sea ice is creating economic opportunities for resource extraction and maritime commerce, but it also creates challenges for environmental protection and national security. Arctic communities have long depended upon the unique characteristics of the region for food, livelihoods, cultural heritage and protection.

According to NOAA, their science, service, and stewardship mission uniquely positions the agency to provide State of Alaska and Alaska Native partners, industry and community stakeholders, and federal and other local officials with Arctic environmental intelligence—timely, reliable, and actionable information that helps them plan for and adapt to economic and ecological impacts, including disasters.

Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews

On the Web:

For North Pole webcam images, click here.

NOAA's Arctic Action Plan

Fact Sheet of the Plan

Source of News: 

NOAA - Arctic

Office of U.S. Senator Mark Begich

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