- contributed by Penny Wagner
The 10th meeting of the International Ice Charting Working Group (IICWG) was held at the headquarters of the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva October 12-16, 2009. Forty-three attendees representing 26 operational and research organizations from 12 countries (Finland, Denmark, U.S., Canada, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Iceland, Finland, UK, and Australia) participated in the meeting. The theme adopted for the meeting was “Expanding Domains and Services” to help focus discussion on the increasing ship traffic in new regions and new seasons in the Arctic and the resulting increase in the need for ice information services. A Science Workshop was held on October 12 followed by three days of open meetings divided into 6 thematic sessions – Expanding Arctic Knowledge, Expanding Arctic Shipping, Expanding Arctic Services, Ice Charting Systems Management, Interactions with WMO Programs and an Earth Observation Update. The IICWG established a charter that was adopted in 1999 but revised in 2008. As a working group, the IICWG was established for the reason that there is ongoing interest of nations that are influenced by sea ice cover and further recognizing the value and economics of cooperative activities in operational ice services supporting maritime navigation.
In addition to the ice services, many other organizations and individuals participate in the IICWG meetings including academics, national space agencies and users of ice information services. The IICWG attempts to focus on matters of practical concern to the ice services while maintaining an awareness of the scientific basis of their activities. In the interest of improving the safety of navigation in icy waters, the IICWG encourages an open sharing of information and technology. The science meeting provided a platform in which APECS was introduced to the IICWG for the first time followed by very positive feedback. The open meeting sessions very much stressed the need to continuing to develop cooperative partnerships with other agencies to better standardize current ice products generated within separate ice charting groups and advance current products available to improve our climate forecasting and prediction abilities. An integral component to this development requires more input from the science community on how these products could be used to provide better datasets for accurate models for climate studies.
Though APECS members are more involved in academic careers and positions, I wanted to attend this workshop to understand some of the operational needs and figure out how our group could benefit the needs of those in alternative careers and those who would like to get into some of these fields but do not necessarily know the manner in which to proceed. Following this I then wanted to see what we could do at APECS to facilitate these types of collaborations that could potentially provide internships and job placement opportunities. This process is new for me, however, since my thesis will be focused on helping to validate products for operational use, I would like to work toward getting APECS very well established and connected with the operational and logistics community as we have been with other academic organizations since IPY began. Though no formal agreement can be established with APECS and IICWG since IICWG is a working group, APECS does have an action item listed for next years workshop to follow through with setting up some sort of collaborative effort with these operational groups and APECS.
If you would like to get more involved with helping APECS do more about Alternative Careers in Polar Research, please contact Penelope Wagner (penelopewagner[at]live.com).