About Arctic Sciences
Section Head: Simon Stephenson
The goal of the NSF Arctic Research Program is to gain a better understanding of the Arctic’s biological, geophysical, chemical, and sociocultural processes, and the interactions of ocean, land, atmosphere, biological, and human systems. Arctic research is supported at NSF by the Office of Polar Programs (OPP), as well as many other disciplinary programs within the Foundation. Coordination across NSF includes the potential for joint review and funding of proposals, as well as mutual support of special projects with high logistical costs.
The Arctic Sciences Section (ARC) in OPP offers a focused multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research program that emphasizes the special character of the Arctic for scientific study. The arctic regions are among the most sensitive to environmental change and have exceptionally long natural climate records and thousands of years of human settlement. This interplay provides a unique basis for integrated research on global systems and human adaptation.
OPP/ARC disciplinary programs encompass atmospheric sciences, biological sciences, earth sciences, glaciology, ocean sciences, and social sciences. Interdisciplinary research in the biosciences, geosciences, and social sciences is linked through the Arctic System Science Program. Proposals for integrated long-term measurements of Arctic system characteristics to address hypotheses about mechanisms underlying Arctic environmental system and its global connections through observation and analysis are supported by the Arctic Observing Network (AON) program. Scientific programs that partner with schools, students (K-12 and higher), and communities in the north and that improve the public’s understanding of science and basic research are strongly encouraged. Information about support for arctic fieldwork in proposal awarded by OPP is available through the Arctic Research Support & Logistics program. The Arctic Data Center is the repository for project metadata and data. The main solicitation for proposals to ARC is Arctic Research Opportunities.
The United States Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984 defines the Arctic as all areas north of the Arctic Circle and all United States territory north and west of the boundary formed by the Porcupine, Yukon, and Kuskokwim Rivers; all contiguous seas including the Arctic Ocean and the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi Seas, and the Aleutian chain. A map of the boundary as defined by the Arctic Research and Policy Act, is available on the Arctic Research Commission website. Field projects falling outside these boundaries but directly related to arctic science and engineering conditions or issues are appropriate, as are related laboratory, modeling, and theoretical studies.
The Foundation is one of 14 Federal agencies that sponsor or conduct arctic science, engineering, and related activities. As mandated by the Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984, interagency research planning is coordinated through the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC), which is chaired by NSF. Researchers are strongly encouraged to engage in IARPC activities through the IARPC Collaborations Portal. Further information on other agency programs is presented in the U.S. Arctic Research Plan.
As the Arctic is the homeland of numerous Native peoples, special attention must be given to all aspects of research which may potentially impact their lives. An interagency statement of "Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic" applies to all research grantees.
- Arctic Natural Sciences Program
- Arctic Observing Network (AON)
- Arctic Research Support and Logistics Resource Page
- Arctic Social Sciences Program
- Arctic System Science (ARCSS) Program