Aerial view of Accomplishment Creek and the Sagavanirktok River in the Brooks Range of Alaska.  Photo by D.L. Kane


In the fall of 1998 the ARCSS Committee identified Arctic hydrology as a high-priority research issue, essential to our understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological linkages binding the Arctic system and thus to our assessment of Arctic environmental change. The Committee also recognized that enhanced hydrological research could serve as an important mechanisms for promoting urgently-needed synthesis studies of the arctic system. A call was made for the National Science Foundation NSF to begin making priority investments in the science of the Arctic water cycle. As a first step, the ARCSS Committee recommended that a focused workshop be convened to assess the current state-of-the-art and to make specific recommendations to NSF on strategic investments in Arctic hydrological research.

Concurrent with these developments, the multi-agency SEARCH (Study of Environmental Arctic Change) Science Steering Committee developed its provisional science plan which was released in October of 1999 and which highlighted, but did not provide substantial detail, on hydrology-related issues linked to Arctic environmental change. In that same month, the ARCSS Committee once again called for a hydrology-oriented meeting to articulate current and future roles of NSF in this arena. Judging by the repeated placement of Arctic hydrology on the agenda of ARCSS and SEARCH, water cycle studies are of clear importance to the broader Arctic systems science agenda.

In response to these calls, NSF-ARCSS provided support for the Arctic System Hydrology Workshop, which was convened in September 2000 at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara, CA. The workshop's central goal was to assess the current state-of-the-art in arctic systems hydrology and to identify research priorities for achieving predictive understanding of feedbacks arising from changes to the arctic water cycle. The meeting had broad representation from within the arctic research community, with more than 30 participants (Appendix A) drawn from the disciplines of land surface hydrology, terrestrial and freshwater ecology, atmospheric dynamics, oceanography, socioeconomics, simulation modeling, remote sensing and geo-spatial analysis. A workshop steering committee captured the deliberations and reported its findings in a peer-reviewed strategy document and series of presentation reports (Vörösmarty et al. 2001; Hinzman and Vörösmarty 2001). The report highlights the several scientific, technical, and institutional challenges separating us from a clear understanding of arctic hydrological change. It also presents a strategy for new research articulating the importance of Arctic freshwater within the earth system and in global change.

In the time since publication of the CHAMP report, there have been several outreach efforts to both announce and to entrain the inputs of the Arctic science community at large. The first major announcement during an ARCSS forum was associated with the LAII/OAII meetings in Salt Lake City, Utah in Fall 2001. This was followed by an AGU Town Meeting during the Fall meetings in San Francisco. A Web-based Forum was held during January to February, 2002, coordinated by ARCUS. An Arctic-CHAMP workshop was held during the ARCSS All-Hands meeting in Seattle (February 2002) to discuss key unknowns and challenges to hydrologic system synthesis. The February meetings also represented the first meeting of the CHAMP Science Steering Committee. An article was published in May 2002 in the EOS-AGU Transactions (Vörösmarty et al. 2002) summarizing community consensus on the effort.

An NSF Announcement of Opportunity (NSF-O2-071; ASOF/CHAMP/SEARCH) resulted in the funding of 18 Projects with 27 Principal Investigators. Proposals, due in early June 2002, were selected during July. The AO represents an ARCSS contribution to SEARCH and explores decade-to-century variability of Arctic water cycle and links land dynamics to ocean water mass/circulation through the stocks and fluxes of freshwater. The effort, called the Freshwater Integration study (FWI), will bring together synthesis studies based on observations, process investigations, and modeling. To help support both logistics and synthesis studies associated with the effort, ARCSS approved in September 2002 a funding request to establish a CHAMP Science Management Office at the University of New Hampshire. A second meeting of the CHAMP SSC was held at the fall AGU meetings in December 2002. Among several issues discussed was the call for an ASOF/CHAMP/SEARCH All-Hands Meeting, which was held in February 2003 at the Joint Office for Science Support, Boulder CO. At this meeting each of the Freshwater Integration study (FWI) Principal Investigators was given an opportunity to present an overview of their project. These presenations can be accessed by visiting the Freshwater Integration study (FWI) Projects page, clicking on each of the Principal Investigator names, and then downloading the presentations.


Hinzman, L. and C. Vörösmarty. 2001. NSF-ARCSS Workshop on Arctic System Hydrology: Meeting White Papers. National Center for Ecological Synthesis, Santa Barbara, CA, 18-20 September 2001. ARCUS, Fairbanks AK. Available at:
, or by downloading here:
Download the PDF (3.15 MB)
Vörösmarty, C.J., L. Hinzman, D.L. Bromwich, L. Hamilton, J. Morison, B.J. Peterson, V. Romanovsky, M. Sturm, R. Webb. 2001. NSF-ARCSS Arctic Hydrology Initiative: Strategic Report and Recommendations for Research. ARCUS, Fairbanks AK. Available at:, or by downloading here: Download the PDF (2.72 MB)
Vörösmarty, C., L. Hinzman, B. Peterson, D. Bromwich, L. Hamilton, J. Morison, V. Romanovsky, M. Sturm, R. Webb, 2002. Arctic-CHAMP: A Program to Study Arctic Hydrology and its Role in Global Change. AGU EOS-Transactions 83: 241, 244,249.  

Arctic CHAMP
Science Management Office

Contact Information
Role of the Arctic-CHAMP Science Management Office
Photo: Aerial view of Accomplishment Creek and the
     Sagavanirktok River in the Brooks Range of Alaska.  Photo by D.L. Kane