PROGRAM TITLE:		Arctic System Science (ARCSS)
ACTIVITY STREAM:	Process, Model
SCIENCE ELEMENTS:	Climate and Hydrological Systems, Biogeochemical 
			Dynamics; Ecological Systems and Dynamics; Earth 
			System History; Human Interactions

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

SCIENTIFIC MERIT:  ARCSS is an interdisciplinary program, the goal of 
which is to understand the physical, geological, chemical, biological, and 
social processes of the arctic system that interact with the total Earth System 
and thus contribute to or are influenced by global change.  ARCSS is 
predicated upon the expectation that the greenhouse effect will be greater in 
high latitudes and that direct human impacts are increasing in the Arctic.  
ARCSS has four linked ongoing projects:  Greenland Ice Sheet Program 
(GISP2), Paleoclimate of Arctic Lakes and Estuaries (PALE), 
Ocean/Atmosphere/Ice Interactions (OAII), and Land/Atmosphere/Ice 
Interactions (LAII). Science steering committees and panels facilitate science 
integration and produce periodic reports and recommendations.  GISP2 has 
completed a five-year drilling program and has retrieved a 3052 meter long 
ice-core which contains a detailed 250,000 year record of climate and 
atmospheric constituents.  PALE reconstructs a paleoecological history from 
the sediment record of arctic and subarctic bogs, lakes, and near ocean 
sediments.  Other historical studies such as archeology are planned.  OAII 
investigates the effects of energy exchange on the water-column structure of 
the Arctic Ocean and interactions with the overlying atmosphere.  Carbon 
sequestration, ecosystem dynamics, sedimentation and carbon deposition are 
also important topics in these large-scale investigations.  OAII activities 
include the 1994 joint US/Canadian cruise across the Arctic Ocean to examine 
climatological and biological interactions and a major new project called 
Surface Heat Budget for the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA).  LAII investigates feedback 
processes within the arctic system which amplify global climate change, 
climate variability and the fluxes of ice, fresh water, water-borne materials; 
and greenhouse gases.  The initial focus will be on measurement, and 
experiments concerning the dynamics, and modeling of regional gas fluxes.  
In the future, ARCSS will incorporate synthesis, integration and assessment 
activities.  A program on human/environmental Interactions to address 
issues of system sustainability will be developed.

STAKEHOLDERS:  ARCSS is an integral part of the U.S. Global Change 
Research Program.  ARCSS is coordinated by four NSF offices and its findings 
contribute to many of the other NSF Global Change initiatives, for example 
WEAVE (Water and Energy: Atmospheric, Vegetative and Earth 
Interactions), ESH (Earth System History), GCTP (Global Tropospheric 
Chemistry Program), WOCE (World Ocean Circulation Experiment), GLOBEC 
(Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics), EROC (Ecological Rates of Change), and 
LMER (Land-Margins Ecosystems Research).  ARCSS is coordinated with 
other U.S. agencies through the Interagency Arctic Research Policy 
Committee (IARPC).  ARCSS interacts internationally with several ongoing 
activities.  GISP2 interacts closely with the European Greenland Ice Core 
Project.  ARCSS also has direct connections to several IGBP core projects, for 
example GISP2 and PALE link with PAGES (Past Global Changes), OAII links 
to LOICZ (Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone) and JGOFS (Joint 
Global Ocean Flux Study), and LAII links to BAHC (Biospheric Aspects of the 
Hydrologic Cycle) and GCTE (Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems).

POLICY RELEVANCE:  ARCSS seeks to advance the scientific basis for 
predicting environmental change on a decade to centuries time scale and for 
formulating policy options in response to the anticipated impacts on humans 
and social systems.  Short term payoffs from the paleo projects, such as 
evidence of rapid rates of temperature change implied by the analysis of the 
GISP2 core provide new understanding of other paleoclimate data.  Longer-
term payoffs will come from the modeling and  synthesis efforts of OAII and 
LAII to predict the impact of global change and feedback on land and ocean 
conditions, use, and management.

PROGRAM CONTACT:  Patrick J. Webber, ARCSS Program Director