Photo credit: Matthew G. Hull
Photo credit: Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard under CC 4.0 license.
Photo credit: Jeremy Keith under CC 2.0 license.


As climate change continues to diminish sea ice across the Arctic, global interest is growing in exploiting newly accessible energy reserves and fish stocks, and in developing shipping routes and tourism. With non-Arctic states and corporations taking a greater interest in the Arctic, the potential for political, economic, cultural, and environmental instabilities is rising. The risks threaten local and the global communities alike.

Arctic Options is group of concerned experts funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to help identify development and governance options for the region. Their mission is to highlight choices that help balance economic, social and environmental interests across the Arctic’s coastal marine systems.

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Upcoming event ICE-ARC General Assembly

November 19 – 21, 2014
Ice, Climate, Economics – Arctic Research on Change
Institute of Marine Sciences
Barcelona, Spain

Organized by: ICE-ARC

Arctic Options Participants: Paul A. Berkman

Objectives:  Ice, Climate, Economics – Arctic Research on Change (ICE-ARC) is a four year project that brings together physicists, chemists, biologists, economists, and sociologists from 21 institutes from 11 countries across Europe to understand and quantify the multiple stresses involved in the change in the Arctic marine environment. The project looks at current and future changes in Arctic sea ice – both from changing atmospheric and oceanic conditions. The project will also investigate, in a robust way, the consequences of these changes both on the economics of the area, and social aspects such as on indigenous peoples.  The outcome of the project will be a better understanding of, and ability to predict, Arctic marine change. This will provide an improvement in the scientific baseline for guiding EU and international policies on the protection of the Arctic marine environment, at a time of increased socio-economic pressure, especially in the field of resource exploitation.


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Announcement ‘Unstructured Data’ Practices in Polar Institutions and Networks

Data Science Journal recently published a new manuscript by Paul A. Berkman, Arctic Options principle investigator and lead project coordinator, entitled ‘Unstructured Data’ Practices in polar institutions and networks: A case study with the Arctic Options project 

In this paper Berkman discusses the importance of mining information on the Arctic region that is both numeric (e.g. Geographic Information System (GIS) data, vessel Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, etc.) and textual (e.g. papers, reports, agreements, etc. ) in support of generating various infrastructure options for the region. Berkman focues on the ‘long tail of smaller, heterogeneous, and often unstructured datasets’ that ‘usually receive minimal data management consideration’, as observed in the 2013 Communiqué from the International Forum on Polar Data Activities in Global Data Systems.

As the case study, Arctic Options project illustrates how digital resources in natural language formats will be aggregated from diverse institutions that have Arctic remits, such as the Arctic Council (2013).

This paper was presented as invited keynote at the International Forum on Polar Data Activities in Global Data Systems (Polar Data Forum, 2013).

Berkman, Paul A. (2014) Unstructured Data’ Practices in polar institutions and networks: A case study with the Arctic Options project. Data Science Journal. Vol. 13, special issue – Highlights of the 2013 International Forum on ‘Polar Data Activities in Global Data Systems’.

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Past event Workshop on Integrated Policy Options for the Bering Strait Region

October 20 – 24, 2014
National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS)
Santa Barbara, CA

Organized by: Arctic Options

Arctic Options Participants: The entire Arctic Options team and invited contributors from academia, industry, shipping, and indigenous peoples in the Bering Strait region.

Objectives: Bounded by the United States and Russian Federation – 82 km wide at its narrowest point – the Bering Strait has emerged as a choke point of human interests and activities as well as ecosystem dynamics associated with the Arctic Ocean. Increasing impacts from energy, shipping, fisheries, and other industries along with the environmental state-changes associated with the diminishing sea ice all are concentrated in the Bering Strait Region. Local, national and international policies apply to the Bering Strait. But are they sufficient to address the concerns of adjacent communities, neighboring states, and the international community in the years to come? The goal of the Bering Strait Workshop is to identify emerging issues and to contribute to informed decision-making about these issues that will facilitate sustainable development in the Bering Strait Region. The workshop participants will work with:

  • Newly prepared knowledge banks of regulations, reports and prior scenario planning efforts to make these important texts easily accessible and fully searchable
  • New multi-layered coastal and marine geospatial data maps which include both the natural and social sciences
  • A wide diversity of stakeholder perspectives regarding emerging issues, trends, risks and opportunities in the Bering Strait


Bering Strait Workshop Overview, Paul Berkman

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Past event The Arctic Circle

October 31 – November 2, 2014
Reykjavík, Iceland

Organized by: The Arctic Circle

Arctic Options Participants: Paul Berkman will speak about the High Seas

Objectives: The Arctic Circle will serve as a crucial venue for dialogue on Arctic issues, and will strengthen the decision-making process by bringing together international partners to interact in an open assembly format. The Arctic Circle aims to support, complement and extend the reach of the work of the Arctic Council by facilitating a broad exchange of ideas and information at an open gathering each year. This annual assembly is a new mechanism for existing institutions, organizations, forums, think tanks, corporations and public associations to reach a global audience in an efficient way.

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Announcement Science Diplomacy as a Means to Create Stability and Peace in the Arctic

AAAS Science and Diplomacy recently published a new manuscript by Paul Berkman, Arctic Options principle investigator and lead project coordinator, entitled Stability and Peace in the Arctic Ocean through Science Diplomacy.

In this article Berkman discusses the role “peace” plays as the foundation for international stability. Curiously, he points out that “the term was consciously rejected as a common Arctic issue when the Arctic Council was established. The fear then, as now, was that peace implies demilitarization.”

Similar to the principles underlying the work of the Arctic Options team, Berkman links international stability to sustainable development – balancing economic prosperity, environmental protection and social equity, while taking into consideration the needs of present and future generations. Also essential to stability in the Arctic Ocean is the need for diplomacy to help balance national interests and common interests.

Berkman speculates, “If the Arctic states are too timid or nationalistic to openly discuss balance, stability, and peace when tensions are low, how will they possibly cooperate when conflicts arise?” and calls for science diplomacy and statesmanship.

This article is adapted from the speech on “The High North” that Berkman was invited to present at the 2013 NATO Maritime Commander’s Conference, The Challenge of Building and Sustaining Global Maritime Awareness, on November 20, 2013, in London.

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Past event 2014 North Pacific Arctic Conference on International Cooperation in a Changing Arctic

August 20 -22, 2014
Honolulu, Hawaii

Organized by: The East-West Center and the Korea Maritime Institute

Arctic Options Participants: Oran Young and Lawson Brigham

Objectives: This conference will provide an opportunity for communication between and among the three North Pacific Arctic states (Canada, Russia, and the United States) and the North Pacific Arctic Council observer states regarding emerging Arctic issues.  The program will create a forum for institutes, businesses, indigenous peoples, and individuals working on Arctic issues to engage in a dialogue. The program will include sessions on the following topcs:

  • Business: Patterns of Arctic Investment
  • Strategies: National Arctic Policies
  • Policy: Arctic State/Non-Arctic State Engagement
  • R&D: Innovations Applicable to the Arctic
  • Arctic Peoples: Indigenous Responses to Arctic Development
  • Opportunities: International Cooperation in a Changing Arctic
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Past event Arctic Resource Development & Infrastructure

August 12-13, 2014
Gambell, Alaska

Organized by:  Bering Sea Alliance, LLC and Sivuqaq, Inc.

Arctic Options Participants: Paul Berkman

Event Program


Objectives: This strategic discussion has been organized to facilitate the implementation of the National Strategy for the Arctic Region and the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission by bringing the process to villages that are directly impacted by exploration and the increase in maritime activity. Development across the Arctic is still its infancy. Arctic maritime activity has exploded as vessels cross through the Bering Strait. These activities are the driving force in this effort to build capacity in remote villages in Arctic Alaska. The impacts that the people in the Arctic are experiencing or will experience soon requires inclusion in processes, inclusion in the decision making process, and opportunities to bring home benefits. This will be accomplished only if the agencies, the federal and state government works in partnership with land owners

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Past event The Arctic Challenge: Opportunities for UK Industry and Research

June 10, 2014
DWF Liverpool, 5 St Paul’s Square, Old Hall Street, Liverpool, UK

Sponsored by:  DWF in association with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)

Arctic Options Participants: Paul A. Berkman


Objective: This will showcase how UK companies are developing and supporting projects in the shipping, finance, insurance, oil and gas, marine, and mining, and environmental sectors. An international audience can draw upon key know-how from the UK and the North West based on the skills acquired in the North Sea. The Arctic also presents British research with huge opportunities to work with Arctic Industry, particularly by assisting with environmental impact assessments and designing in sustainability. UKTI is extremely active in these areas. DWF will be supported by NERC and UKTI’s domestic, Nordic Baltic, and North American team.

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Announcement Arctic Options Extends Scientific Collaboration with Russian University

Moscow State University of International Relations

Moscow State University of International Relations

In the wake of increasing geopolitical tensions with Russia, the Arctic Options project of UC Santa Barbara is taking steps to extend science diplomacy and international collaboration by developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for academic and research cooperation with MGIMO University (Moscow State University of International Relations), which is affiliated with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Under the agreement, researchers will collaborate on Arctic policy research of international concern relating to emerging issues in the fields of law, political science, economics, and oceanography.

Funded by the US National Science Foundation and French National Centre for Scientific Research, Arctic Options: Holistic Integration for Arctic Coastal-Marine Sustainability is an international project overseen by NCEAS and designed to enhance the effectiveness of governance for sustainable development across an increasingly ice-free Arctic.

The Arctic Options project has an emphasis on three regions: 1) Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia; 2) High Seas of the Arctic Ocean beyond national jurisdictions; and 3) Marine coastal zone of West Greenland. Collaboration with legal experts and scholars from Russia is necessary to support research activities in the Bering Strait, including the Bering Sea and Chukchi Sea, which involves the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.

“This MOU lays the foundation for the international Arctic Options team to strengthen science-policy connections with their counterparts in the Russian Federation,” said NCEAS director Frank Davis.

Oran Young, an Arctic Options co-PI and research professor at UCSB’s Bren School added, “Maintaining strong cooperation between American and Russian scientists is particularly important during these times of geopolitical stress.”

“Successful international collaborations of this nature require trust developed over time,” said Paul Berkman, UCSB professor and Arctic Options coordinator. “Professor Alexander Vylegzhanin, Director of International Law at MGIMO University, and I have had a long-standing and productive collaboration.”

In 2010, Berkman and Vylegzhanin co-directed the first formal dialogue between NATO and Russia regarding security in the Arctic – NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Environmental Security in the Arctic Ocean – at the University of Cambridge with high-level participants from all Arctic States, Arctic indigenous peoples organizations, and representatives from nine non-Arctic states. In 2011, Berkman and Vylegzhanin were invited to speak to the Norwegian Storting and NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Emerging from this workshop, they also co-edited a book on Environmental Security in the Arctic Ocean that was published by Springer in 2013.


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Past event Workshop on Safe Ship Operations in the Arctic Ocean

Workshop co-convened by Arctic Options, ACCESS and the International Maritime Organization (IMO)

IMO Workshop Circular and Agenda

Ship Design and Construction: Workshop for Safe Ship Operations in the Arctic Ocean 

Press Release

February 28, 2014

The Workshop on Safe Ship Operations in the Arctic Ocean took place at IMO Headquarters in London on 28 February 2014. This international, interdisciplinary and inclusive workshop was hosted by the IMO along with the Arctic Options: Holistic Integration for Arctic Coastal Marine Sustainability project (, funded by the United States National Science Foundation and French Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique and the Arctic Climate Change, Economy and Society ( project funded by the European Commission.

The workshop was opened by the IMO Secretary-General. The objective of the workshop was to facilitate information exchange among diverse experts and to consider issues and strategies for ensuring safe ship operations in the Arctic Ocean. The discussions will contribute to IMO’s ongoing work on the mandatory Polar Code, which is anticipated for completion in 2014. Participants from 24 countries and more than 70 international organizations participated in the workshop. Arctic Options’ principle investigator, Paul Berkman, moderated the workshop.


Opening remarks – IMO Secretary-General

IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu

Workshop Goals and Objectives

Prof. Paul Berkman, Fulbright Distinguished Scholar and Research Professor,

Bren School of Environmental Science and Management ‐ Marine Science Institute

Nordic Bulk Carriers Challenges for the Polar Code

Mr. Mads Boye Petersen Managing Director / Partner, Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S ‐ Denmark

Globalization & Economic Interests in the New Maritime Arctic

Prof. Lawson W. Brigham, PhD, Distinguished Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks,

Chair, Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (2005-09)

Arctic Sea Ice Trends

Prof. Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean Physics, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics,

University of Cambridge

Progress towards the development of an international Polar Code

Dr. H. Deggim, Senior Deputy Director, Marine Environment Division, IMO

European Commission (ACCESS) Project

Prof. Jean Claude Gascard, Université Pierre et Marie Curie

ARCTIC OPTIONS Holistic Integration for Arctic Coastal-Marine Sustainability

Prof. Paul Berkman, Furlbright Distinguished Scholar and Research Professor,

Bren School of Environmental Science and Management ‐ Marine Science Institute

Institutional Interplay in the Arctic Ocean

Prof. Oran R. Young, Research Professor, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management ‐University of California

Charting of the Arctic Ocean

Mr. Evert Flier, Director, Norwegian Hydrographic Service

Operationalising the Polar Code in the Arctic Ocean: Insurance Industry Contributions

Mr. Michael Kingston, Partner, Marine, Trade & Energy Group, DWF LLP

Arctic Peoples Perspectives

MP Sara Olsvig, Member of Danish and Greenlandic Parliaments, Inuit Ataqatigiit ‐ Denmark


International Maritime Organization


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