Knowledge Exchange Workshop initiates the Sea Ice Action Network

The SEARCH Sea Ice Action Team’s First Knowledge Exchange Workshop on the Impacts of Arctic Sea-Ice Loss took place over two days in Washington, DC during September 2016, where the foundation for a Sea Ice Action Network (SIAN) was established. Over 30 scientific experts, representatives from government and non-governmental organizations, arctic residents, and other stakeholders defined and addressed important societal questions raised by sea-ice loss, and explored new approaches and partnerships for advancing awareness and understanding of the associated impacts. The workshop exchanged best practices and opportunities for communicating with various audiences—policymakers, the media, local arctic residents and stakeholders, and other science disciplines, and discussed the state of scientific knowledge and engagement across three themes related to arctic sea-ice loss: arctic marine ecosystems, lower latitude weather, and human activities in the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas.

Workshop participants collectively discussed how to advance scientific practice in a manner that is increasingly effective and efficient at delivering relevant and useful science to decision-makers and the public. There are both simple tools one can individually adopt to improve communicating science and instances where a well-managed broader collaboration is necessary. Knowledge pyramids were discussed as a tool to enhance science communication across a broad range of audiences and to foster science synthesis. Knowledge pyramids result in concise science briefs written to answer specific societally relevant questions, where each brief (i.e., the apex of the pyramid) is supported by a collection of information resources and scientific literature organized across several underlying tiers with increasing levels of scientific complexity and technical detail. Together, participants made progress in envisioning how the pyramids should be structured and how to engage community members to participate.

Acknowledging limited budgets and capacity to engage beyond the science community, groups such as the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) are uniquely positioned to assist arctic researchers, stakeholders, and communities in collaboratively bringing knowledge to action. Participants agreed that the Sea Ice Action Network, supported by SEARCH, will provide a promising collaborative approach to communicating the implications of arctic sea-ice loss, sharing diverse perspectives, and facilitating more sophisticated discussions on effective responses.

View the full workshop report