Last week, I participated in the 12th Annual Patuxent Defense Forum: “The Arctic Domain: From Economics to National Security.” Arctic experts also at the Forum included Dr. John Farrell, Executive Director of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) – a COL member – and Maj. Gen. Randy “Church” Key, USAF (ret.), Executive Director of the Arctic Domain Awareness Center (ADAC, hosted by the University of Alaska). I moderated a panel on maritime challenges across the region, including the role of ocean science and technology in helping reduce risks related to safety, security, and sustainability in the Arctic as maritime activity increases. I highlighted major international milestones this year where ocean science helped inform policy: the recently agreed upon ban on commercial fishing in the central Arctic Ocean for at least 16 years, the May 2017 Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation, and the new Polar Code that went into effect the first day of 2017. The science that enabled these excellent groundbreaking (or maybe icebreaking) policies can be traced to the years of arduous research that has been done by many individuals associated with COL member institutions. I salute everyone who has helped enable and conduct this important research – thank you and well done!
It was also a busy science and policy week, including AGU’s annual Fall Meeting, where several leaders from COL and our members came together with Earth and space scientists from around the world to share knowledge and discuss important and timely topics. I’m sorry to have missed this one, but I look forward to seeing many of you at February’s Ocean Sciences meeting in Portland. Here in D.C., Congress continued negotiating differences in the House and Senate tax bills. The final compromise (or conferenced) version, which was released Friday and is expected to pass both chambers this week, does not include the House-proposed language taxing graduate tuition waivers. Efforts to keep these waivers tax free generated waves of advocacy activity by COL and others, which certainly helped engender bipartisan support. I’m thrilled to have seen the science community come together to get this language removed.
As we move through the holiday season, best wishes to you and yours from all of us at COL!
RADM Jonathan W. White, USN (ret.)
President and CEO
Consortium for Ocean Leadership
Known as honu by Hawaiians, the Hawaiian green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) is classified as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act despite a growing population. Its continued listing is in response to the potentially significant losses of nesting beaches due to sea level rise. New analysis presented at the American Geophysical Union’s 2017 Fall Meeting highlights the threat to turtle nesting habitat posed by coastal armoring in response to sea level rise. Erosion caused by sea level rise is pushing beaches farther and farther inland, but the owners of homes and businesses along the coast are often more inclined to dig in than to retreat. The construction of coastal armor like seawalls and riprap can keep the shoreline from moving farther inland, but that doesn’t stop erosion. Instead, waves eat away at the beach until it disappears completely. “It is detrimental to not only the beach but also the species that use that beach,” Jake Burstein, a geophysicist at the University of South Carolina in Columbia who worked on the study, told Eos.