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NEWS | Dec. 17, 2014

NRL Hosts 4th Annual Karles Invitational Conference

By Daniel Parry

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) 2014 Karles Invitational Conference, held November 13-14, in Washington, D.C., focused on the evaluation and status of research being conducted in the Arctic and its promise for providing an understanding of the changing Arctic environment.

Changes currently observed in the Arctic environment have captured the attention of scientists, governments, industries and societies alike. Past and present satellite imagery has indicated a shrinking ice cover in the Arctic summer resulting in a temporal and spatial expansion of open water conditions and an overall reduction in sea ice volume.

Reduction of Arctic sea and land ice has contributed to increased human activity in the region, said Dr. John Montgomery, Director of Research at NRL. Our goal for this year's conference is to bring together world-class researchers, program sponsors and policy makers to discuss the current state of knowledge, scientific and technical challenges, and future issues related to the changing Arctic environment.

Understanding current conditions in the Arctic and the impacts that these changes have on Earth's environmental system has become one of the most active areas of scientific research around the world. Advances in observational instrumentation and systems to monitor the Arctic, as well as advances in numerical models, may now play a more impactful role in understanding processes once considered unimportant to defining the Arctic environment.

To ensure safe development of our national Arctic waters, we must address first order needs like high-resolution hydrographic charting, offshore aids to navigation and pilotage information, reliable weather and sea ice forecasts, and a better understanding of the nature and rate of Arctic climate change, said Rear Adm. Jonathan White, Oceanographer of the Navy and Director of the Navy's Task Force Climate Change.

Increased activity in the Arctic, as well as the new Department of Defense Arctic Strategy, is driving the need to better observe, understand and predict Arctic environmental conditions. Improving our battlespace awareness of this complex and rapidly changing environment will enable the Navy and Coast Guard to more safely and effectively operate in the region.

As the ice cover diminishes and more open water exists for longer periods of time, our understanding of Arctic processes and their impacts including air-ocean-ice heat exchanges, wave-ice interaction, and land-ice-ocean interactions will have to be reevaluated. New observational techniques, both remotely sensed and in situ, will be required to help us better understand the changing Arctic.

The 4th Annual Karles Invitational Conference on the 'Science and Technology of the New Arctic Environment' provides a timely forum designed to further explore and help assess the future direction of these groundbreaking developments. Presentations and discussions concentrated on challenges facing the Arctic environment in the 21st century, shifts in the Arctic paradigm, novel technologies to monitor a changing Arctic environment, and the physics of the new Arctic regime.

The conference commenced with welcoming comments by Dr. John Montgomery, Director of Research at NRL, and Dr. Larry Schuette, acting Director of Research of the Office of Naval Research. Keynote speakers were Dr. Brendan Kelly, Director of Conservation Research and Chief Scientist of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Rear Adm. Jonathan White, Oceanographer of the Navy and Director of Task Force Climate Change. Presenters included subject matter experts from the Bureau of Oceans & International Environmental & Scientific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State; Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES); Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL); Corporation for Atmospheric Research; European Space Agency (ESA); National Snow and Ice Data Center; Harvard University; Rutgers University; University of Alaska, Fairbanks; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Massachusetts-Amherst; University of Washington; and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

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