U.S. POLAR PROGRAMS $285,410,000
The FY 2001 Budget Request for U.S. Polar Programs is $285.41 million, an increase of $32.41 million, or 12.8 percent, over the FY 2000 Current Plan of $253.00 million.
(Millions of Dollars)
NSF conducts Polar Programs through two budget Activities:
Polar Programs is unique within the Foundation in both its geographic focus -- polar regions -- and in the breadth of its scientific programs. Polar regions are of critical importance as they are the areas predicted to be first affected by global change. As such they play a central role in environmental issues related to global climate and are vital to understanding past, present, and future responses of Earth systems to natural and man-made changes.
The Arctic and Antarctic are premier natural laboratories whose extreme environments and geographically unique processes enable research not feasible elsewhere. For example, polar ice forms an integral part of the AMANDA neutrino observatory and the cold, dry environment and high altitude at the South Pole render the Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica telescopes uniquely effective. Both sets of instruments probe the distant reaches of the universe, while environmental observatories detect and monitor effects of climate change on extreme terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Polar researchers are also monitoring and analyzing recent changes in the Arctic ice cover and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to better understand the potential impact these changes have on global climate change. Other projects supported by Polar Programs analyze the chemistry of ice cores as a record of global climate history; utilize astrophysical observations made in cold dry polar conditions to determine the evolution and structure of the universe; examine the effects on marine life of increased ultraviolet light resulting from ozone depletion; and elucidate adaptation mechanisms of organisms and ecosystems to harsh living conditions.
NSF is one of twelve federal agencies supporting Arctic research and logistics. The Foundation provides interagency leadership for research planning as directed by the Arctic Research Policy Act of 1984. NSF also supports university research to increase our knowledge of the region, to improve understanding of Arctic phenomena, and to enhance stewardship of natural resources. Funding in the Arctic includes research and logistics support for work conducted in that remote region.
Funding for the Arctic Research Commission, an independent federal agency, is also included within funding for Polar Programs.
NSF is charged with managing all U.S. activities in the Antarctic as a single, integrated program. The U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) implements national policy to maintain Antarctica as an area of international cooperation reserved for peaceful purposes, to preserve and pursue unique opportunities for scientific research to understand Antarctica and its role in global environmental systems, to protect the relatively pristine environment and its associated ecosystems, and to assure the conservation and sustainable management of the living resources in the surrounding oceans. Funding for USAP includes research and the science support directly linked to specific research projects, as well as support for the broader operations and logistics infrastructure that makes it possible to conduct science on the remote and uninhabited continent.
In FY 2001, Polar Programs will participate in Foundation initiatives for Information Technology Research (ITR) and 21 st Century Workforce.
Information Technology Research (ITR): Funding for ITR in FY 2001 totals $1.66 million. FY 2001 priorities include: development of remote operation capabilities and development of accessible information systems for polar data.
21 st Century Workforce: Funding for the 21 st Century Workforce initiative in FY 2001 totals $1.10 million. Polar Programs' support enhances the partnership between rural college campuses in Alaska and U.S. research institutes through interactive distance courses, labs, and workshops. Support is also provided for the Interagency Education Research Initiative (IERI).
U.S. Polar Programs' support for ongoing and new activities contributes to NSF efforts to achieve its strategic goals, as well as to the administration and management activities necessary to achieve those goals.
Support for discovery at and across the frontier of science and engineering and connections to its use in the service to society increases by $16.26 million in FY 2001, to a total of $79.07 million, an increase of 26.0 percent over FY 2000. Priority is given to fundamental research that can be uniquely undertaken in the polar regions. A recurring theme in much of this research is the role of the polar regions in global climate and biogeochemical cycles. This Arctic and Antarctic research covers virtually every aspect of our planet: the solid earth, glacial and sea ice, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, the oceans, the atmosphere and beyond. Research on the solid earth is integral to understanding our planet's plate tectonics, the evolution of life in Earth's distant and recent past, and the interactions of Earth's crust with the overlying ice sheets. Glacial and sea ice studies elucidate aspects of biologic productivity and global climate processes. Marine/terrestrial biota studies examine systems from extreme environments that are relatively unaffected by humans -- they are therefore ideal for documenting the long-term effects of human activities. A major focus of ocean studies is the role of polar regions in generating nutrient-rich, cold currents that influence global ocean circulation. High latitude magnetic field and upper atmospheric studies provide unique views of near-earth space physics. The dry, cold atmosphere at the South Pole, its 9,300 foot elevation and six month continuous night permit astronomical studies not feasible elsewhere. The search for Antarctic meteorites enables fundamental advances in knowledge about the origin of our solar system.
Support includes $3.96 million for three centers in Antarctica. The Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica conducts research in both astronomy and astrophysics at the South Pole. Two Antarctic Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites are part of the U.S. LTER network. On the Antarctic Peninsula, the LTER near Palmer Station focuses on marine research, with field support from the leased research vessel Laurence M. Gould. At the LTER in the Dry Valleys near McMurdo Station, researchers study polar desert oases and permanently ice-covered lakes and their unique microbial systems. Research at these sites involves researchers, graduate students and undergraduates from universities across the United States, as well as researchers from other federal agencies.
Arctic and sub-Arctic LTERs in Alaska -- at Toolik Lake and at the Bonanza Creek Experimental Forest --are the logistical base for ecosystem studies of Arctic forests, tundra, lakes and streams. These LTERs are supported in cooperation with NSF's Biological Sciences Activity, with Polar Programs providing both research and operational support.
In FY 2001, Polar Programs will continue its efforts to address Foundation-wide concerns about grant sizes by increasing the average duration of awards. In accord with the Foundation's FY 2001 Performance Plan, Polar Programs will continue to provide increased attention to the percentage of competitive research grants going to new investigators. These efforts will contribute to increasing the efficiency of the Foundation's merit review process and achieve greater cost-effectiveness for both NSF and the university community.
Across its programs, OPP will provide support for about 2,100 people in FY 2001, including students, researchers, post-doctorates, and trainees. Support for programs specifically addressing NSF's Strategic Goal of "People -- A diverse, internationally competitive and globally-engaged workforce of scientists, engineers and well-prepared citizens" totals more than $1.46 million in FY 2001, an increase of 7 percent over FY 2000. Moreover, about 40 percent of the funding for research grants -- an amount approaching $32.0 million in FY 2001-- provides support for researchers and students, including about 740 postdoctorates, trainees, and graduate and undergraduate students.
Innovative efforts in Polar Programs contribute to developing a diverse, internationally competitive workforce of scientists, engineers and well-prepared citizens. These efforts include use of new technologies such as interactive video; efforts to improve scientific literacy and education in Alaska; and contribution to development of a geosciences curriculum for undergraduates (GLACIER) relating geoscience disciplines to polar and global phenomena. Continuing activities include support for the Antarctic Artists and Writers program; Scouting in Antarctica; Live from Antarctica project linking researchers to classrooms; curriculum development initiatives; summer science camps for Alaska Natives; and Teachers Experiencing the Antarctic and Arctic. Polar Programs also supports a graduate /post-doctorate level course at McMurdo Station that addresses the adaptations of ecosystems to cold climates; this is an international course that uses biomolecular and genetic techniques to understand issues ranging from physiology to behavior. The Center for Astrophysics in Antarctica (CARA) will host a Chautauqua course for undergraduate teachers. Polar Programs also supports the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training program and Model Institutions for Excellence.
Research in the polar regions is also supported through provision of research support, special facilities, and logistics. Funding for facilities in FY 2001 totals $201.53 million, an 8.2 percent increase over FY 2000. Research support includes costs typically awarded directly to grantees in other areas of NSF - technicians, field safety equipment, laboratory costs, transportation of scientists and their cargo, and instrumentation and equipment - but handled centrally by Polar Programs when it is more cost efficient to do so. In FY 2001, both the physical infrastructure and communications will continue to be upgraded. Both scientific and operational needs for enhanced computing and communications will be met by equipment upgrades. Remote sensing, data retrieval and handling, and automated observatories will be developed.
Support for Arctic research, through Polar Programs and other NSF Activities, includes support for Arctic field stations and large instrument facilities in Alaska, Greenland, and Canadian Arctic:
In the Antarctic, funds for science support, operations, and logistics make research possible by providing all the infrastructure, instrumentation, and logistics necessary for scientists from all disciplines who travel to Antarctica for their research. This support includes forward staging facilities in New Zealand and South America, as well as the home ports or headquarters for the military and civilian contractor in the United States. Facilities include:
In FY 2001, $13.50 million is requested for the next phase of South Pole Station Modernization. The Major Research Equipment Account has further information on this request.
Administration and Management
Administration and Management provides for administrative activities necessary to enable NSF to achieve its strategic goals. This includes the cost of Intergovernmental Personnel Act appointments, contractors performing administrative functions and, in FY 2001, travel for staff in the program offices.
Number of People Involved in Polar Programs Activities
Polar Programs Funding Profile
1 Statistics for award size and duration are for Research Grants only.
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