Keynote Presentations

2017 AMSS Keynotes 


Changes of Oceanographic Conditions in the Pacific Sector of the Arctic Ocean and the Impact to Marine Ecosystems 

Takashi Kikuchi, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology

The Arctic Ocean has experienced unexpected environmental changes due to global warming and rapid sea-ice reduction. Recent observations revealed significant warming, freshening and ocean acidification, especially in the Pacific sector of the Arctic Ocean. However, there are still significant knowledge gaps on Arctic Ocean environmental changes. Monitoring of oceanographic conditions and better understanding of the impacts on marine ecosystems are necessary to continue. In collaboration with research institutions and universities in the United States and other Arctic countries, Japanese researchers have been investigating environmental changes in the Arctic Ocean since the early 1990s.

The Pacific Arctic Group (PAG) is one of the most important scientific frameworks to conduct observational research with a Pacific perspective on Arctic science. With the strong collaboration among PAG partners, we have been conducting ship- based observations using the RV Mirai and long-term monitoring with a mooring observation system in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. The results of this international collaboration research in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas will be introduced, as well as recent research topics on changes in oceanographic conditions and their impacts on marine ecosystems.

Takashi Kikuchi is the Deputy Director of JAMSTEC’s Institute of Arctic Climate and Environment Research and Team Leader of its Arctic Ocean Climate System Research. He has participated as a researcher or lead scientist on research cruises to the Arctic for nearly 20 years. He is currently the chair of the Pacific Arctic Group, and has been an Executive Committee member of the International Arctic Buoy Program since 2008, as well as an International Science Steering Group Member for the Arctic- Subarctic Ocean Flux Program since 2010.

Kikuchi is the author of numerous scientific papers and is a contributing author to the Adaptation Action for a Changing Arctic - Bering/Chukchi/Beaufort regional report for the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program. 


Research Plans for the Arctic: the US Arctic Research Commission’s Goals and Objectives Report 2017-2018 and the Integrated Arctic Research Policy Committee’s 5-year Research Plan

Fran Ulmer, Chair, U.S. Arctic Research Commission

The U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) recently released its "Report on the Goals and Objectives for Arctic Research 2017-2018 for the US Arctic Research Program," (Goals Report). Emphasizing the need for continued scientific research in all of its six major goals, the Commission released new recommendations for these goals. In addition, the Commission also calls attention to progress made on these goals over the past two years.

Building upon the Goals Report, the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee in mid-December released the second comprehensive Arctic Research Plan covering the years 2017-2021. The new plan supports U.S. policy across a range of scales, from Arctic people and communities to the global scale. The research described in Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021 is organized into nine research goals: health and well-being; atmosphere; sea ice; marine ecosystems; glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland ice sheet; permafrost; terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems; coastal resilience; and environmental intelligence (observations, data, and models). The Arctic Research plan will be implemented using the innovative IARPC Collaborations Website (

Fran Ulmer is chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, where she has served since being appointed by President Obama in March 2011. In June 2010, President Obama appointed her to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. From 2007 to 2011, Ulmer was chancellor of Alaska's largest public university, the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). Before that, she was a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at UAA. Ulmer is a member of the Global Board of the Nature Conservancy and on the Board of the National Parks Conservation Association.

Ulmer served as an elected official for 18 years as the mayor of Juneau, a state representative, and as Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. 


Our Experiences as Arctic Youth Ambassadors and the Future of Alaska’s Arctic

Macy Kenworthy and Cade Terada, U.S. Arctic Youth Ambassadors

Two of the Arctic Youth Ambassadors from Alaska will share their experiences with the program over the past year and their thoughts about the future of Alaska’s Arctic.

Macy Rae Kenworthy is a 20-year-old U.S. Arctic Youth Ambassador from Kotzebue and Sisualik, Alaska. She graduated from Mt. Edgecumbe High School, a boarding school in Sitka, and is currently enrolled at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Aside from the Arctic Youth Ambassadors program, Macy has taken advantage of a number of opportunities to be involved in her community, including being elected vice president of her local youth council. Along with voicing her concerns and issues, such as climate change impacts, to a broad audience including scientists and policy makers, Macy hopes to see more young people become interested and involved in their communities.

Cade (Emory) Terada is a Japanese American from Dutch Harbor Alaska. He recently graduated from Unalaska City School and is an active youth organizer for Alaska Youth for Environmental Action. He is a member of the local Teen Council where he works to empower youth in his community. His father had always encouraged him to help others as much as he possibly could. Cade enjoys hiking, cross country running, traveling and meeting new people as well as drama, debate, and forensics. Cade is interested in representing his community because of its dependence on the seafood industry. Cade credits the seafood industry for making Dutch Harbor his home. He wants to represent his community as an ambassador, a place that is changing due to climate change. As an Arctic Youth Ambassador he represented Alaska on the 2016 Students on Ice program in Northern Canada and Greenland, and has presented at national and regional conferences. 


Tracing the Evolution and Extinction of High Latitude Marine Megafauna

Nicholas Pyenson, Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History

For the past 250 million years, backboned animals have returned to the water from ancestors that once lived on land. Today, these kinds of animals include whales, sea cows, sea otters, and even sea turtles. They are all unrelated to one another, but in many cases that have evolved similar solutions to the challenges of living the life aquatic. We know that marine invaders also lived during the time of the dinosaurs, such as mosasaurs, ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, among others. However, we know little about the fossil record of these organisms at high latitudes, near the poles, where we find the richest ecosystems to support marine invaders today.

Alaska is singular among high-latitude regions in possessing a geologic history that records the evolution and extinction of many of these invaders. Starting with the extinction of Steller’s sea cow on the Aleutian Islands, this history deepens heading eastwards, to Oligocene fossil marine mammals without analog from sites in Southeastern Alaska, to Mesozoic-era marine tetrapods from the Brooks Range. Understanding this record provides important benchmarks for the ecological fate of today’s Arctic marine mammals in the rapidly changing Anthropocene.

Nicholas Pyenson is the curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, in Washington, D.C. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed his postdoctoral work at the University of British Columbia. As a vertebrate paleontologist, his scientific research focuses on how different kinds of four-limbed animals have repeatedly invaded oceans from land ancestry over the past 250 million years – an evolutionary cross-section of vertebrate life that includes sea turtles, seabirds, and especially marine mammals, such as whales.

A National Geographic Explorer, he has done scientific fieldwork on every continent, and led over a dozen scientific expeditions during the last decade, with a strong focus on paleontological exploration, anatomical discovery, international mentorship, and 3D digitization for museum collections. Along with his scientific collaborators, he has named over a half-dozen new species of fossil whales, discovered the richest fossil whale graveyard on the planet, and described an entirely new sensory organ in living whales. 


The Recent Marine Heat Wave in Alaska: A Dress Rehearsal for Climate Change?

Nick Bond, University of Washington

Alaska and its surrounding waters have experienced remarkably warm temperatures during the past few years. What happened, and how does this recent event compare with past warm events? Does it represent a preview of the regional conditions and ecosystem responses that will accompany future global climate change?

These questions will be addressed drawing on examples from the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and Arctic.

Nick Bond is a principal research scientist with the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean of the University of Washington and is affiliated with NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. He is the State Climatologist for Washington. His research covers a broad range of topics with a focus on the weather and climate of the Pacific Northwest and the linkages between the climate and marine ecosystems of Alaska. 

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