What is ART?

The Arctic in Rapid Transition (ART) Initiative is an integrative, international, interdisciplinary, Panarctic network to study the spatial and temporal changes of the Arctic Ocean. In order to better understand and forecast the impact of recent changes on the Arctic ecosystems and biogeochemical features, variations in sea ice cover, ocean circulation and associated physical drivers are investigated over multiple timescales. See the ART Science Plan for more information.

Mentoring and educational programs are integral to maintain the organic identity of ART as a network led by early-career scientists. The implementation of ART relies on the successful integration and collaboration with many scientific programs that are already active or in development. The legacy of ART is a robust set of predictive tools that will enhance the integration of Arctic marine sciences into global assessments of climate change and help manage increased human activity in the Arctic.

Why study the Arctic?

Arctic sea ice extent and thickness are declining rapidly, simplifying access to oil and gas resources, enabling Transarctic shipping, and shifting the distribution of harvestable resources. These projected socio-economical opportunities have brought the Arctic Ocean to the top of national and international political agendas. Alarmingly, current sea-ice loss appears to be unmatched over at least the last few thousand years (Polyak et al. 2010) and is taking place more rapidly than projected by any of the 18 global climate models used by the IPCC (IPCC, 2007).

The persistent mismatch between observed and projected patterns makes planning and mitigation activities in the Arctic region complicated. Therefore, scientific knowledge of the present and past status of the Arctic Ocean and the process-based understanding of the mechanics of change are urgently needed to make useful projections of future conditions throughout the Arctic region.

What is ART and what makes ART unique?

The ART Initiative was initiated by early career scientists in October 2008 and subsequently endorsed by the Marine Working Group of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), formerly the Arctic Ocean Sciences Board.

The ART Executive Committee originates from this network of early-career Arctic marine scientists who have been involved in multidisciplinary national and international research programs during the last decade. The unique characteristics of the ART Initiative are arrayed along four axes (see illustration at right):
  • International: ART is an international effort both in terms of geographic scope (Panarctic) and of the nationalities of the founding and participating scientists.
  • Interdisciplinary: ART fosters communication and data exchange among disciplines and will improve our understanding of the response of the Arctic marine realm as a whole (i.e., ecosystems and biogeochemistry) to changes in climate and Arctic sea ice.
  • Temporal Linkages: ART has an important focus of bridging temporal aspects, including paleorecords, current observational studies and modelling efforts.
  • Early Career Involvement: ART was conceived, developed and remains steered by early-career scientists, with ongoing intellectual support from dedicated senior scientists who serve an advisory role. The program aims to continue and support the active involvement of early-career scientists in ongoing Arctic research.

ART implementation via a three-phase approach

  • Phase I: The development of an active international and multidisciplinary network of scientists sharing a common interest in improving our understanding of the implications of sea ice transitions in the Arctic Ocean.
  • Phase II: The coordination of dedicated, multicountry, interdisciplinary field campaigns and data collection activities that would provide input into an integrated modelling effort.
  • Phase III: The synthesis of knowledge including the development of robust scenarios regarding the future state of Arctic marine ecosystems and their role in global processes.