An increasingly significant and concerning issue in polar science is the rising prevalence and severity of extreme events in the Arctic. To help reconcile the gap between the needs and current efforts of the scientific community in understanding these extremes, we hosted a multi-day focus group discussion at the POLAR 2018 meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Fifteen scientists were invited to the discussion group, covering a wide range of research fields: glaciology, oceanography, atmospheric dynamics, marine biology, terrestrial/permafrost, and anthropology.
Our discussions were focused around a few key themes: the definition and characterization of extreme Arctic events; challenges of attribution and detection across various Arctic science sub-disciplines; the interconnectedness of Arctic extremes. We highlighted two different case studies of recent extreme events: (i) record high temperatures and sea ice breakup north of Greenland, and (ii) local-scale tsunamis triggered by glacial calving events with impacts on local communities. Extreme events require and indeed provide a useful framework to bring together scientists across disciplines. We hope our discussion summary and related activities will motivate further efforts to increase our understanding of extreme events in the Arctic.