A warming discussion about the Arctic

The Arctic Discussion Series is focused on the work and research being done by experts in the field to learn more about the Arctic. The series is open to the public.

The first event was on Feb. 15 and focused on the creation of Audubon Alaska’s “Ecological Atlas of the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas,” presented by Max Goldman, Arctic marine ecologist.

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Max Goldman, an Arctic marine ecologist, holds his presentation on his work in Alaska for the Arctic Discussion Series. The Arctic Discussion Series focuses on work and research based in the Arctic. Photo credit: Jay Guzman

One of Goldman’s latest projects. “The Ecological Atlas of the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas,” was finished last summer and informs the public and policy makers when decisions regarding these areas are being made.

“We make the best available science readily accessible regardless of background, and let that unadulterated and reviewed science advocate for the marine environment,” Goldman said.

Goldman became involved in Arctic research through his fascination with the ice dynamics in the Arctic. What he finds interesting is the way Arctic areas function as two different systems depending on many different factors, such as the presence and absence of sea ice.

“As an ecologist, I am very aware of and concerned about climate change, which draws even more attention to the Arctic, where those effects are the most obvious,” Goldman said.

Goldman works at Audubon Alaska, a company that focuses on wildlife conservation. As an Arctic marine ecologist, Goldman focuses on sorting through and making sense of data collected by agency personnel, university researchers and non-government organizations.

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“We synthesize and combine [the] data to create atlases that describe an entire region through annual cycle maps of species and processes that persist in the area,” Goldman said.

One of the greatest challenges Goldman has faced throughout his career has been the nature of his work. Not everyone agrees on the importance of conservation, and there is a constant battle between industries, governments and conservation organizations.

“There is no time to dwell on past successes or challenges with the sheer volume of threats to Alaska’s land and water, and the speed at which developers and the current administrations are willing to move to develop those threats,” Goldman said.

There is still much to discover and understand in the field of Arctic research.

“Researchers still know very little about the Arctic relative to other areas that are more easily accessed, not to mention all the stuff we don’t know to ask about yet,” Goldman said. “More funding would mean more people choosing to use their careers to learn about this enigmatic environment.”

Two more presentations are scheduled in the series. The next speaker, Sarah Bobbe of the Ocean Conservancy, will present March 22 on the challenges of heavy fuel oil use by ships in the Arctic. The final presentation on April 12 will be Caroline Behe on the Inuit Circumpolar Council of Alaska.