There is increasing scientific recognition that changes to the Arctic freshwater systems has produced, and could produce even greater, changes to bio-geophysical and socio-economic systems of special importance to northern residents and also produce some extra-arctic effects that will have global consequences. To address such concerns, a scientific synthesis is being conducted that focuses on assessing the various Arctic freshwater sources, fluxes, storage and effects. Notably, most of these are directly or indirectly controlled by cryospheric components and processes.
The Arctic Freshwater Synthesis (AFS) is structured around five major components: atmosphere, ocean, terrestrial hydrology, terrestrial ecology and resources, with modeling as a sixth cross-cutting component. The AFS is currently being developed with scientific and financial support from the World Climate Research Program’s Climate and Cryosphere Project (CliC), the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment.
Publication plans for the AFS include a number of reports tailored to the scientific foci of the individual participating organizations, and to a suite of scientific-journal review papers. Research needs identified by the AFS are also to act as benchmarks for the upcoming International Conference on Arctic Research Planning III, planned for 2015 and will form the basis for policy recommendations to be presented to the Arctic Council.
So far, the project has involved two meetings of scientific co-leads that are responsible for each component. Writing teams for each component have been formed, and first-order drafts of each review paper have been finished. Next steps involve meetings and continued work for each component writing team to produce the final texts.