"I am grateful and honoured to become the first UArctic Research Chair as a collaborative appointment between UArctic, the University of Oulu and the University of Alaska Anchorage. I am prepared to sustain and amplify the spirit, the dedication and the vision of UArctic, as formulated twenty years ago.
UArctic today is an enterprise of ambitious, caring, dedicated and talented undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral scientists, researchers, faculty at all professional stages, and support staff from across the Arctic. This diversity and the multidisciplinary aspect of UArctic is the key to our collective future, as we can use our accumulated wisdom, the energy of youth and the passion that is pervasive in our community to unlock the mysteries and the secrets of the Arctic and its complexity.
The Arctic as prior generations knew it is no longer the same, and it will be much different in five or ten years. These differences are dramatically reflected in our observations of a shrinking Arctic sea ice system that is almost absent of multi-year ice. In September 2016 sea ice covered 50% less of the Arctic Ocean than it did just 30 years ago. Today, we see expansive patches of open water in winter with cascading consequences locally, regionally and globally.
Understanding the Arctic today, including the interactions between the marine and terrestrial coastal systems, are one of the key areas of emerging interdisciplinary research. In addition, documenting the changing nature of the Arctic water cycle, sea ice distribution and thickness as well as the fate of carbon in permafrost in expanding periglacial landscapes are challenges that require collaborations between nations and the use of advanced technologies. The importance of the health and economic welfare of Arctic citizens and their resilience and adaptations to rapidly changing conditions are trajectories of research that merit significant investments and international cooperation. Today, many of our Native communities throughout the Arctic are reliant on herbivores and wildlife populations for maintaining their subsistence lifestyle; thus, understanding the causes and consequences of transitions in vegetation and plant-animal interactions are critical to a holistic perspective of a future Arctic System.
Strengthening the collaborative nature of Arctic research, the interdisciplinary needs of our studies and the mentoring of the next generation of Arctic researchers will be a priorities of mine. Expanding the visibility and the understanding of the Arctic System to the broader global community using the entire array of media tools, outreach means and supporting enterprises dedicated to Arctic conservation and scientific discoveries will also be priorities of mine. I am especially dedicated to devising and supporting the tremendous array of existing Thematic Networks of UArctic, and to support the formation of new networks that can be the foundations and the extension of our collective endeavors.
I look forward to meeting many of you, to working on behalf of you, to seeing obstacles as challenges and opportunities, and using our collective fortitude to provide insight and wisdom, built on sound scientific data."
Jeffrey M. Welker, Professor, University of Oulu and University of Alaska Anchorage