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Culture and Arctic Climate Change:
A Scoping Workshop to Explore Integrative Frameworks

Organizer: Mary-Louise Timmermans, Department of Geology and Geophysics


Tuesday–Wednesday, May 13–14, 2014 | 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Burke Auditorium, Kroon Hall, 195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT

This workshop is motivated by the appreciation that our knowledge of the human role in the Arctic system over millennia can be refined and greatly improved through better integration of high-latitude archaeology, ice core and other re-constructions of climate parameters, and studies of the contemporary Arctic environment. The two-day workshop will bring together researchers working across a range of disciplines in order to explore the complex relationship between the dynamic Arctic environment and long-term human cultural responses.

Day 1: Talks appropriate to an audience with a broad range of backgrounds
Day 2: Discussion sessions and informal networking.

Agenda, Day 1  –  Tuesday May 13, 2014

8:30 am Breakfast/Introduction to Workshop

9:00 am Rapid Arctic Warming and Changing Weather Patterns
in Mid-Latitudes: Is There a Connection?

Jennifer Francis, Rutgers University

Jennifer Francis earned a B.S. in Meteorology from San Jose State University in 1988 and a PhD in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington in 1994. As a professor at Rutgers University since 1994, she has taught courses in satellite remote sensing and climate-change issues, and also co-founded and co-directed the Rutgers Climate and Environmental Change Initiative. Presently she is a Research Professor with the Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences and studies Arctic climate change and Arctic-global climate linkages.

9:30 am What Precise Source Tells us About Arctic Sea Ice

Dennis Darby, Old Dominion University

Dennis Darby is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences at Old Dominion University. He has developed methods to precisely trace Fe-oxide sand grains to their source and thereby determine net drift and dispersion of sediment from multiple sources. Key findings include massive iceberg discharges from the Arctic Laurentide and Innuition ice sheets at the same times as Heinrich Events; a 1,500 year cycle in the Arctic Oscillation during the Holocene; the initiation of perennial sea ice in the Arctic at about 44 Ma with several switches back to seasonal ice since; and the fact that anchor ice is as important in sediment transport in the Arctic as suspension freezing of sediment in sea ice.

10:00 am North Atlantic Warming and the Retreat of Greenland’s Glaciers

Fiamma Straneo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Dr. Straneo is a tenured Scientist in the Physical Oceanography Department of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Her research focuses on the polar oceans and their role in climate and climate variability. Motivated by the rapid and ongoing ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet, much of her most recent work is aimed at understanding the interaction between the ice sheets and the ocean. Measurements collected by Straneo and her colleagues indicated, for the first time, the widespread presence of warm waters of tropical origin at the margins of Greenland's glaciers.

Straneo has led over 15 field expeditions in the polar regions using a wide range of platforms that include research vessels, fishing boats, inflatables, helicopters and snowmobiles. She serves on many national and international scientific panels including the US CLIVAR (Climate Variability and Predictability) Working Group on Ice Sheet-Ocean Interactions in Greenland, the steering committee of the International Arctic-Subarctic Ocean Fluxes Group, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation Science Team and the Arctic Observing Change Panel of SEARCH. In 2013 she was appointed a Fellow of the Leopold Leadership Program - which seeks to bridge the gap between environmental scientists, the public and decision makers. Straneo's research has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, the Weather Channel, and many other national and international media outlets. Straneo holds the Seward Johnson Chair for Educational Coordinator in Physical Oceanography, within the WHOI/MIT Graduate Joint Program, and regularly teaches and advises PhD students. Amongst the recent courses she has taught is an interdisciplinary course on the Arctic and one on Climate Change.

Dr. Straneo has a Laurea cum Laude in Physics from the University of Milan, Italy, and a Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography from the University of Washington. She joined WHOI as a post-doc in 1999. She lives in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

10:30 am BREAK

10:45 am Greenland Norse Knowledge of the North Atlantic Environment

Tom Haine, Johns Hopkins University

Prof. Thomas Haine is the Morton K. Blaustein Chair of Earth & Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. His research interests lie in ocean circulation and dynamics and the ocean’s role in climate. In particular, he studies the fluid dynamics and kinematics of high latitude oceans using observations, numerical models, and theory. Prof. Haine studied Physics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. His PhD is in Physical Oceanography from the University of Southampton. He was a postdoc at the University of East Anglia and at MIT, before being appointed as a University Lecturer in Physics at Oxford. He joined the Hopkins faculty in 2000.

11:15 am Local and Traditional Knowledge on the Millennial Scale:
Sustainable Waterfowl Management from Viking Age Iceland

Tom McGovern, The City University of New York

Tom McGovern has done archaeological fieldwork since 1972 in the UK, Norway, France, the Caribbean, and NE US, but his main research work has been in the North Atlantic (Greenland, Iceland, Faeroes, and Shetland). McGovern was one of the founders of the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization (NABO, www.nabohome.org) with initial NSF support in 1992, and has served as NABO coordinator down to the present. This international regional research cooperative has sponsored collaborative science, education, and outreach work from arctic Norway to Labrador, and its website now provides rich resources for science and education. In 2009 NABO was funded by NSF to explore the possibilities of taking this collaborative model global by connecting other regional interdisciplinary teams working in long term human ecodynamics. Following a successful workshop and conference publication, this effort has resulted in the new Global Human Ecodynamics Alliance (GHEA, www.gheahome.org) that has attracted wide interest and NSF support through the new Science Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) initiative. McGovern is active in the GHEA alliance, linked to IGBP human dimensions initiatives and working to coordinate and connect many excellent local and regional initiatives in sustainability education and research. In 2010, the NABO teams were recognized by the American Anthropological Association's Gordon Willey Memorial Prize for outstanding interdisciplinary archaeology. McGovern is associate director of the Human Ecodynamics Research Center at the CUNY Graduate Center (herc.gc.cuny.edu) and has served on multiple NSF and international panels on arctic and interdisciplinary research. Thomas.h.mcgovern@gmail.com

11:45 am Holocene Arctic Climate Variability: Present, Past & Future

Raymond Bradley, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Ray Bradley is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geosciences and Director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (www.paleoclimate.org). His interests are in climate variability and why climate changes, over a wide range of timescales. He did his graduate work at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder. He has written or edited ten books on climatic change, and authored more than 100 refereed articles on the subject. In 2004, he received a Doctor of Science (D.Sc) degree from Southampton University (U.K.) for his contributions to the field of paleoclimatology. Ray Bradley has been an advisor to various government and international agencies, including the U.S., Swiss, Swedish, and U.K. National Science Foundations, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. National Research Council, the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the US-Russia Working Group on Environmental Protection, and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP), Stockholm.

12:15 pmLUNCH

1:30 pm Winter Holes, Summer Gardens, Hunter Havens, Sunken Ships:
A Possible Guide to Marine Monitoring in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago

Eddy Carmack, Institute of Ocean Sciences, Canada

Eddy Carmack is Emeritus Senior Research Scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Sydney Chapman Chair at the University of Alaska, with over 40 years of working in high-latitude oceans, lakes and rivers, over 80 field missions and over 180 refereed publications. He is a Fellow of the AGU and recipient of the RCGS Massey Medal and the CMOS Tully Medal. He likes to follow water around. Eddy.Carmack@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

2:00 pm Beringian Arctic Environments for Humans: Past and Present

Julie Brigham-Grette, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Julie Brigham-Grette’s research interests are on the stratigraphy, sedimentology, and chronology of geologic systems that record the climate evolution and sea level history of the Arctic since the mid-Pliocene. Her research program is largely aimed at documenting the global context of paleoenvironmental change across “Beringia”, i.e., the Bering Land Bridge, stretching across the western Arctic from Alaska and the Yukon into NE Russia and adjacent marginal seas.

2:30 pm Two Faces of Arctic Climate Change: Past Impacts on Human Settlement,
Future Risks for Archaeological Sites

Max Friesen, University of Toronto, Canada

Max Friesen is a professor of archaeology at the University of Toronto. He has directed over 20 field seasons in the Canadian Arctic, on sites ranging from the earliest Palaeoeskimo settlements to historic Inuit occupations. He is currently co-editing the Oxford Handbook of Arctic Archaeology.

3:00 pm BREAK

3:30 pm Towards a Subarctic Human Biogeography:
the PaleoEcology of SubArctic Seas (PESAS) Project

Ben Fitzhugh, University of Washington

Ben Fitzhugh is an archaeologist working on hunter-gatherer adaptations and social change on the subarctic North Pacific Rim. His interests include the late Quaternary development of maritime capabilities, human-environmental interactions, climate-ecosystem-human dynamics, technological evolution, social networks, resilience and vulnerability in the adaptive strategies of small scale foraging societies, and implications of expanding political economies on the resilience of subsistence based cultures. In the past two years, he has initiated a number of large scale comparative initiatives focusing on the human and environmental dynamics of insular subarctic island systems and Paleoecology of Subarctic Seas (PESAS) that brings together climate, ocean, ecology, and archaeology specialists to compare proxy records and model large scale and long term patterns in the northern North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans and their subarctic marginal seas. At his home institution, the University of Washington, Ben helps direct a new initiative, called the Future of Ice, to bring together scholars and students around the changing polar systems, their changing natural and social dynamics, histories, and potential futures. Dr. Fitzhugh directs the UW Quaternary Research Center and is an Associate Professor of Anthropology. He is also a founding member of the Global Human Ecodynamics Alliance (GHEAhome.org).

4:00 pm Bridging Scales of Analysis:
Environmental Shifts and Humans Responses in Northwest Siberia

Peter Jordan, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Currently Director of the Arctic Centre at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. Education: BSc was in Physical Geography (University of Manchester / University of Amsterdam) , MSc was in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy (University of Sheffield), PhD was in Hunter-Gatherer Ethnoarchaeology in Northwest Siberia (University of Sheffield). General research interests are in the ethnoarchaeology, ethnohistory and archaeology of circumpolar hunter-gatherers. Themes include: technology and cultural inheritance; climate change and cultural innovation; circumpolar cultural landscapes. Recent books: Technology as Human Social Tradition: Cultural Transmission among Hunter-Gatherers (University of California Press / December 2014); The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers (OUP / April 2014, edited with V. Cummings and M. Zvelebil); Landscape and Culture in Northern Eurasia (University College London Institute of Archaeology Publications, edited, 2010); Ceramics before Farming: the Origins and Dispersal of Pottery among Hunter-Gatherers of Northern Eurasia from 16 000 BP (University College London Institute of Archaeology Publications, edited with M. Zvelebil, 2009). Website: www.rug.nl/staff/p.d.jordan

4:30 pm Human Responses to Climate Change:
Western Arctic and European Alpine Examples

Peter Schweitzer, University of Vienna, Austria

Peter Schweitzer has been a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks since the early 1990s and served as Director of Alaska EPSCoR from 2007-2012. Since December 1, 2012, he is Professor at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna. His theoretical interests range from kinship and identity politics to the community effects of global climate change and his regional focus areas include the circumpolar North and the former Soviet Union. He is the editor of Dividends of Kinship (Routledge 2000), co-editor of Hunters and Gatherers in the Modern World (Berghahn 2000), co-author of Russian Old-Settlers of Siberia (Novoe izdatel'stvo 2004; in Russian), and the editor of a forthcoming volume on Moved by the State: Population Movements and Agency in the Circumpolar North and Other Remote Regions. Schweitzer served as President of the International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) from 2001 to 2004 and currently chairs the Social and Human Sciences Working Group of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).


Agenda, Day 2  –  Wednesday May 14, 2014

Goals of the discussion session include:

  1. To identify the basic framework for linking data from archaeology and the environmental sciences to understand the complex long-term relationship between culture and high-latitude climate change, and to initiate future collaborative efforts that have been funded by the International Arctic Science Committee.
  2. To identify interdisciplinary problems that combine elements of the holocene Arctic archaeological record and the dynamic Arctic environment that are relevant to understanding the past and present Arctic system.

The Global Human Ecodynamics Alliance: Connecting Communities and Promoting Collaboration

Community and Conservation: Documenting Millennial Scale Sustainable Resource Use at Lake Mývatn Iceland

Islands of Change vs. Islands of Disaster: Managing Pigs and Birds in the Anthropocene in the North Atlantic

What did the Viking discoverers of America know of the North Atlantic Environment?

Greenland Norse Knowledge of the North Atlantic Environment

‘Collapse’ in a North Atlantic context

Norse Greenland settlement and limits to adaptation

1,500-year cycle in the Arctic Oscillation identified in Holocene Arctic sea-ice drift

Past glacial and interglacial conditions in the Arctic Ocean and marginal seas—a review

The role of currents and sea ice in slowly deposited central Arctic and rapidly deposited Chukchi–Alaskan sediments

Ice-rafted detritus events in the Arctic during the last glacial interval; Innuitian and Laurentide ice sheet calving events

Ephemeral formation of perennial sea ice in the Arctic Ocean during the middle Eocene

Modern dirty sea ice characteristics and sources: The role of anchor ice

Paleoenvironmental Conditions in Western Beringia before and during the Last Glacial Maximum

Islands of Change vs. Islands of Disaster: Managing Pigs and Birds in the Anthropocene in the North Atlantic

Landscapes of Settlement in Iceland: Historical Ecology of Human Impact and Climate Fluctuation at Millennial Scale

Challenges to Understanding the Dynamic Response of Greenland’s Marine Terminating Glaciers to Oceanic and Atmospheric Forcing

North Atlantic Warming and the Retreat of Greenland’s Outlet Glaciers

Rise and fall of the Beringian steppe bison

Expert assessment of vulnerability of permafrost carbon to climate change

Sample topics are below (schedule TBA).

Sample Discussion Topics: