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Arctic Research Support and Logistics

Name Email Phone Room
Renee D. Crain (703) 292-4482 W7154
Frank R. Rack (703) 292-2684 W7189
Kate Ruck (703) 292-8051 W7249

The Arctic Research Support and Logistics (RSL) Program supports the fieldwork of research projects funded through the Arctic Sciences Section. The purpose of the RSL program is to make Arctic fieldwork safer, more efficient, and cost-effective. The RSL program supports facilities and services to the research community through grants, cooperative agreements, interagency agreements, memorandums of understanding, and contracts. The RSL program may make its services available for proposals funded by other NSF programs or by other agencies or research institutions on a cost-reimbursable basis or, in some cases, as co-funding. Pre-negotiation is required for these instances prior to submitting a proposal.

soil sampling
A Joint Science Education Project (JSEP) student conducts fieldwork.
Photo by Lars Demant-Poort, University of Greenland

Researchers should generally plan to go to the field no sooner than one year after award to allow time for NSF to peer review, plan, budget, and complete environmental compliance for projects.

Everyone planning to go into the field is expected to follow the OPP Code of Conduct.

Prior to award, all proposals are evaluated for total logistics costs and feasibility. The RSL program funds the Arctic Research Support and Logistics Services contract to provide support to grantees. This contract is currently awarded to Battelle Arctic Research Operations (Battelle ARO). Other commonly used third-party support organizations are listed below. If using a third-party provider, the proposal should include a letter from the organization in the Supplementary Documents section of the proposal. The letter should be 1-2 pages long and include a description of the scope of work and a Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) cost estimate. Please allow third-party providers 4-6 weeks to prepare a letter to accompany your proposal.

Investigators are encouraged to make use of services provided through the RSL program to improve safety and efficiency. Services include:

  • Training for field safety, small boats, tower climbing, and other field-based activities
  • Camp equipment, communications, vehicles, and related support
  • Risk assessments, risk management services, and access to telemedicine
  • Coordination with local communities
  • User day fees or access to research stations
  • Other specialized support to enable Arctic research
  • Environmental training

Proposals to the RSL program
The RSL program accepts proposals to improve the safety and efficiency of research or research support and to provide services to the research community. Please contact a program officer before submitting a proposal.

Community Coordination and Outreach
All researchers should follow the Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic developed by the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC). For projects in or near communities, researchers are expected to engage with community or tribal leaders at the development stage of the project, include Arctic communities to the greatest extent possible in the project planning and development, and should plan to return to present results to communities at appropriate times. Investigators can request travel funds to develop community collaborations in the proposal budget. Researchers who need additional support for engagement should reach out to their program officer. The RSL program may support engagement efforts to ensure that they take place.

The Arctic Community Engagement (ACE) web pages have additional information and resources.

Environmental Compliance
Proposals considered for funding will be assessed for environmental impacts according to the laws relevant to the proposed field sites, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act. NSF may utilize contractors to assist with this compliance process and provide expertise. Principal Investigators (PIs) should expect to be asked for information about their fieldwork as part of these compliance processes and provide updates if the fieldwork plans are changed at any time.

IT Services and IT Security Assurance
The RSL program has an Inter-Agency Agreement (IAA) with the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) to provide information assurance services to ensure compliance with the Federal Information Security Act (FISMA) and to provide expertise and guidance on IT support services made available to the arctic research community. NIWC will conduct site visits to evaluate information assurance at field sites. They have assembled the Arctic Information Assurance Working Group of Arctic IT providers and users to provide input on IT security policies, Rules of Behavior, and other IT security information for the Arctic research community.

Arctic Research Support and Logistics Services Contractor

floatplane, Alaska
Beaver floatplanes been instrumental in getting scientists to remote parts of Alaska for fieldwork.
Photo by Kevin Pettway, Polar Field Services
The main activities of the RSL program are provided through the Arctic Research Support and Logistics Services contract to Battelle Arctic Research Operations (Battelle ARO). Please visit the Battelle Arctic Gateway or contact the Battelle ARO science project planners for more information about the services they provide. Battelle ARO manages support throughout the Arctic, including use of contractor and military airlift; support to and within Greenland; support in Alaska, Canada, Russia (subject to conditions), Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, the Arctic Ocean, and on regional vessels; and providing field gear, risk assessment, and field safety training.

Third-Party Logistics Providers
The following service providers are funded by NSF to assist researchers with their fieldwork. Please contact the organizations directly to follow their process for requesting support. Include a 1-2 page description of the services and cost as Supplementary Documentation in proposals to NSF. Please allow third-party providers 4-6 weeks to prepare a letter to accompany your proposal.

Battelle Arctic Research Operations (ARO) - The prime contractor to NSF for Arctic Research Support and Logistics Services.

Ice Drilling Program (IDP) - A cooperative agreement funded by NSF to plan and support ice drilling in the polar regions.

Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) - Seismometers and related geodetic services can be requested from IRIS.

National Ice Core Laboratory (NICL) - The U.S. facility for storing, curating and studying deep ice cores from glaciated regions of the world.

Polar Geospatial Center (PGC) - A resource for geospatial imagery, maps, digital elevation models and other remote sensing services for Arctic researchers.

Ship-based Science Technical Support in the Arctic (STARC) - Planning and technical services for cruises on the USCGC Healy.

Toolik Field Station (TFS) - Make reservations and plan fieldwork in close contact with the managers of TFS, utilize services from the Toolik GIS office, and data from the Environmental Data Center.

UNAVCO - Request GPS, ground-based lidar and other geodetic services and equipment from UNAVCO.

University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) - Submit ship time request forms for use of USCG vessels and UNOLS vessels and request shared use equipment.

U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) - Information about the U.S. icebreaker fleet in support of research. Complete a UNOLS ship time request form on the UNOLS web site to use the USCG icebreakers.

Toolik Field Station
Toolik Field Station, located on the eastern shore of Toolik Lake in the northern foothills of
the Brooks Range on the North Slope of Alaska. Photo by Todd Paris,
University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Research Community Coordination
The RSL program invests in coordination and communication to benefit arctic science planning and execution through a variety of efforts, including research coordination efforts with other national programs.

Arctic Icebreaker Coordinating Committee (AICC) - Funded through the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System, the AICC is a committee of arctic researchers providing input on the operation of the U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers for the support of science.

Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS) - ARCUS provides informational and organizational support for arctic research efforts including a searchable directory of arctic researchers, calendar of arctic meetings and events, the ArcticInfo listserv, downloadable publications, arctic science education opportunities, Witness the Arctic, Arctic Logistics, and more.

Arctic Research Mapping Application (ARMAP) - This searchable visualization tool provides information on field locations and project descriptions supported by or coordinated with NSF.

Forum of Arctic Research Operators (FARO) - FARO is the organization of representatives from national programs that participate in Arctic research.

ISAAFFIK  - ISAAFFIK Arctic Gateway is a user driven web platform supporting Arctic research and collaboration with a focus on Greenland.

Summit Station Science Coordination Office (SCO) - To improve coordination and information about research at Summit Station, Greenland, the SCO interfaces with the research community, the arctic logistics contractor and NSF.

Field Location Information

NSF supports infrastructure at Toolik Field Station and Utqiaġvik (Barrow) to enable access for researchers. Power and communications for instrumentation is available at Imnavait Creek and Atqasuk. Remote field camps, aircraft contracts, and other support services are available in Alaska through ARO. Please contact the ARO science project planners at for more information about working in Alaska.


radiosonde launch
Science technician Marci Beitch launches a radiosonde in high winds at
Summit Station, Greenland. Photo by August Allen, Polar Field Services.
The main hubs for activities in Greenland are Kangerlussuaq, Summit Station, and Pituffik Space Base. Please visit the Greenland page on the ARO website for more information about working in Greenland or contact the ARO science project planners.

Summit Station is located near the highest point on the Greenland Ice Sheet and operates year-round supporting clean air and clean snow. Researchers interested in working at Summit Station should contact the ARO science project planners and the Science Coordination Office (SCO).

In all parts of Greenland, researchers must comply with permit requirements from the Government of Greenland. Information and forms are available from the Ministry of Independence, Nature, Environment and Agriculture on a website dedicated to activities in remote parts of Greenland. Please also find more information and a portal for contributing Greenland project information at ISAAFFIK. Additional information about sharing Greenland research with communities can be found at Arctic Hub. Furthermore, additional information for archaeological projects in Greenland can be found on the Greenland National Museum and Archives webpage.

NSF will enable Search and Rescue (SAR) for NSF-supported research teams. NSF reserves the right to recoup costs for SAR if appropriate. NSF will coordinate with the Government of Greenland and other entities to evacuate SAR patients to the nearest capable medical facility (e.g., Nuuk hospital, Pituffik Space Base). NSF is not responsible for medical costs or the cost of transporting personnel with medical conditions from the field, the point of immediate medical treatment, or back to their home or care facility of their choosing. All research team members are expected to have medevac or travel insurance to cover these costs. Research teams are financially liable for these costs, and NSF will not cover them. This insurance is an allowable cost under the grant terms and conditions.

Contact the ARO science project planners for information about working in Russia.

Canada, Svalbard, Fennoscandia, and Sea Ice of the Arctic Ocean
Contact the ARO science project planners for information about working in Canada, Svalbard, Fennoscandia, and on the Arctic Ocean sea ice.

Ship-based Research
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy - Science support on the Healy is organized through the Ship-based Science Technical Support in the Arctic (STARC) award to Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Oregon State University and University of Washington. Contact Brendon Mendenhall to initiate cruise planning on the Healy. The Icefloe website provides cruise planning and other relevant information. Submit a Ship Time Request (STR) form on the UNOLS website and include the STR as Supplementary Documentation to the proposal submission. Information provided by the Arctic Icebreaker Coordinating Committee (AICC) is a resource for cruise planning and outreach to arctic communities.

RV Sikuliaq
R/V Sikuliaq, Photo by Kim Kenny

R/V Sikuliaq and other UNOLS vessels - To request time on vessels in the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), submit a Ship Time and Marine Equipment (SME) Request form on the UNOLS Marine Facilities Planning (MFP) website and contact the ship operator for more information about particular vessels.

Other research vessels may be contracted either directly by researchers using grant funds or by the RSL program. Research on foreign vessels may be warranted due to scientific collaboration or the region in which the vessel is operating. Please discuss specific vessel requirements with the cognizant program manager or Frank Rack prior to submission to ensure the appropriate information and funding request is included with the proposal.

Contact the ARO science project planners for information about working anywhere in the Arctic and for any support needs.
The RSL program managers welcome feedback on the performance of Arctic research support and logistics providers and suggestions for improving arctic research support.