Email Print Share

OPP Office Advisory Committee

XX Meeting of the Advisory Committee for the Office of Polar Programs (OPP)
May 13-14, 2002 • Arlington, VA

Members Absent

Julie Brigham-Grette, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Dave Hofmann, Atmospheric Chemistry, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Peter Schlosser, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University

OPP Senior Staff Present

Karl Erb, Director, Office of Polar Programs
Erick Chiang, Head, Polar Research and Support Section
Altie Metcalf, Budget and Planning Officer
Dennis Peacock, Head, Antarctic Sciences Section
Thomas Pyle, Head, Arctic Sciences Section

Monday, May 13, 2002

Welcome and Introductions

Dr. Amanda Lynch called the meeting to order at 8:40 a.m. The minutes from the November 2001 meeting were approved.

OPP Director's Report

Dr. Karl Erb welcomed the committee and special guests. Dr. Erb discussed the following issues:

  • FY02 Appropriations and FY03 Request. Dr. Erb discussed the overall agency priorities and noted OPP's three MREFC projects: (1) conversion of three airplanes from Navy specifications to the Air Force specifications; (2) South Pole Station Modernization; and (3) IceCube Phase I start-up activities.
  • Shelf-Basin Interaction Project and Alaska Native Whaling Commission. Dr. Erb discussed the concerns of the Alaska Native Whaling Commission about the Shelf-Basin Interaction cruise, which could disrupt the migration of whales and therefore impact the community. Discussions with the community led to revising the cruise schedule so whaling wasn’t adversely affected. Dr. Erb requested input from the Committee on a process that would prevent conflicts in the future.
  • Arctic Science Summit Week. The Arctic Ocean Science Board met; Tom Pyle is currently the vice chair of AOSB and will be the chair next year. The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) met and elected Pat Webber as chair. The European Polar Board is building a scientific case for an ice-strengthened Arctic research vessel.

In response to the Committee's questions about IceCube, Dr. Erb stated that OPP has not made any advance commitments of logistics for IceCube. The first season IceCube would compete for logistics would be FY05, so FY03 fieldwork is definitely not impacted. Internal discussions on the LC-130 resources have been resolved for FY03.

The Committee also asked when the new South Pole Station would have the capacity to support 150 people in the summer. Erick Chiang responded that the station would be occupied in stages as each wing is complete. The station will be completed in FY 2007.

OPP Planning Discussions: Some Potential New Activities

Dr. Erb briefly updated the committee on what emerged from the Program Officer's retreat. A three-page list of items was developed as important new activities growing out of programmatic thrusts. Dr. Erb invited the committee to inform OPP of items that had not been captured and should be considered, either during the meeting or by e-mail later. OPP will continue the process of evaluating potential new activities by reviewing workshop reports. The intention is to develop a "rolling look" at what is on the horizon. Issues brought up that cross a number of OPP programs were polar genomics; subglacial lakes; and an improved science planning process.

Arctic Update
Arctic Research Issues and Plans

Dr. Tom Pyle gave a brief update on the following:

  • Staff: Neil Swanberg will be the acting program director for ARCSS with the departure of Mike Ledbetter. Robin Meunch will be the acting program director for the Arctic Natural Sciences Program.
  • FY02: SEARCH will start with the release of an Announcement of Opportunity on Arctic Freshwater Balance. A recurring issue is balancing system science with "opportunity" science.
  • Shelf-Basin Interaction (SBI) cruise: Dr. Pyle elaborated on the issue of the planned SBI cruise conflicting with whaling activities. There was a concern by the Alaska Native Whaling Commission (ANWC) that the cruise might attract or repel Bowheads whales either by providing a lead through the ice, thus diverting them from their natural course or repelling them due to the noise or some other activity caused by the vessel. Dr. Pyle believes that NSF needs to know more about the Bowheads and to incorporate what the ANWC knows about Bowheads and other species. NSF intends to task Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC) and/or the Alaskan Native Science Commission (ANSC) with assistance in resolving this issue since both have been helpful in the past.
  • There was no winter-over at Summit, Greenland, this year due to lack of the joint (international) support required.
  • A report on Barrow as requested by Congress has been prepared and is undergoing internal NSF review.

The committee raised the issue of whether the "Principles for Conduct in the Arctic" should be updated, noting that the existing principles was developed primarily for social scientists. It was suggested that it may need updating to include specific principles for physical or biological researchers. Dr. Pyle did not recommend altering the document, which would required agreement by all agencies, but proposed the need to produce a better way to implement the principles. In addition, Dr. Erb noted that the responsibility currently falls on the PI to implement the principles and suggested this is a major responsibility for one person to accept. The committee suggested that NSF could take a more proactive role or consider the possibility of creating an "ambassador," a liaison at NSF who would be the internal contact person with the ANSC who could act on behalf of the PI.

Dr. Erb stated that the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) promulgated the principles and proposed that all of the agencies could get together and discuss the implementation.

Antarctic Update
Antarctic Research Issues and Plans

Dr. Dennis Peacock briefed the committee on the following:

  • Antarctic science topics raised at the OPP Retreat and the timing for current and out-year activities
  • Two workshops on ocean science planning are helping develop activities in that area: one on Marine Geology and Geophysics (report due summer of 2002) and one on Biology/Physical and Chemical Oceanography (report due fall 2002)
  • The second New Investigator Workshop is scheduled for August 26-27, 2002. The first workshop was quite successful, with over 80 participants. Funds last year and this year were set aside specifically for funding awards to new investigators. This effort is an outgrowth of a GPRA goal to increase the number of new investigators supported by NSF.

USAP Logistics and Science Support Update

Mr. Erick Chiang briefed the committee on the following:

  • Antarctic Research Support Plans and Issues. Mr. Chiang emphasized that although the Antarctic Science Section formulated a 5-year science plan for its projects, the implications of all of the projects are very significant from an operation and science support costs perspective. PRSS has no way of knowing whether those projects could be supported or in the sequence that was presented in those years. Mr. Chiang mentioned the challenge of (1) maintaining the balance between direct research and infrastructure support; (2) setting and addressing infrastructure priorities; and (3) managing for the future.
  • Planning workshops. The first workshop, partnered with Raytheon, had the goal of breaking down barriers between client and contractors, to work as a team so that Raytheon could anticipate the needs of the Polar Research Support Section. The second workshop involved the staff from the Polar Research Support Section and the Antarctic Science Section, and the goal was to consider changes that could be made within the science support division at Raytheon Polar Services so that they could serve PRSS more effectively.

Dr. Erb mentioned that NSF policy is to retain one-third of uncommitted grant funds so that every year there are funds to start new projects. Likewise the goal for OPP is to have one-third of the logistics capability uncommitted.

The Committee discussed the conundrum of whether new facilities or capabilities should be provided in the anticipation of proposals being received in a certain area. If NSF waits until proposals are received, there can be a lag time of several years before the facilities/capabilities are available due to funding constraints. This issue remains a challenge.

The committee discussed the positive benefits and the possibilities that would be opened up by an overland traverse capability.

Environmental Research and Education Decadal Plan

Dr. John Priscu briefly outlined the structure of the Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education and introduced Dr. Margaret Leinen, Assistant Director, GEO Dr. Leinen discussed the ERE "10-year agenda," which will be posted on NSF's website for community comment. The next step is how to implement the plan.

The committee noted that OPP could have a big impact in the area of dealing with indigenous environmental knowledge, as OPP is the NSF organization that has a very strong tradition in Arctic research to document indigenous environmental knowledge and to include it in mainstream science and education.

A decision for the OAC is who will be the OAC representative to the ERE/AC after this year, as John Priscu rotates off the committee at the end of 2002.

Reinvesting in Science, Engineering and National Security

Mr. Curt Suplee, Director of OLPA, summarized the genesis of "Reinvesting in Science, Engineering and National Security (RISE)." Mr. Suplee asked the Committee to comment on the current draft, and clarified that the audience for the document is the general public and opinion makers. The Committee recommended that, given the audience, the document should be a shorter document with links to more details. Mr. Suplee requested this recommendation in writing from the Committee. Sridhar Anandakrishnan has the lead on this.

ARCSS All-Hands Workshop

Dr. Lynch briefed the committee on the ARCSS all-hands workshop. What came out of the workshop was a draft document that listed a change in the over-arching questions that currently defines ARCSS. Three broad thematic questions were suggested as a revised structure for organization:

  • What are the limits of predictability of change in the Arctic System?
  • How do human activities interact with changes in the Arctic to affect sustainability of ecosystems in societies?
  • How will change in Arctic cycles and feedbacks affect the Arctic and global systems?

The opinion was that ARCSS should move beyond the current components — Land-Atmospheric-Ice Interactions, Ocean-Atmospheric-Ice Interactions, Paleoclimate, and Human Dimensions of Change in the Arctic System. The suggestion was that the ARCSS Committee have broader community involvement and serve as a conduit for “grass roots” initiatives. The ARCSS workshop identified four initiatives: Arctic CHAMP (the Community-wide Hydrological Analysis and Monitoring Program), Near Shore and Coastal Processes, Modes of Variability, and Life Webs/Tidal Influx. These initiatives would ultimately lead to Announcements of Opportunity that would allow ARCSS PI's to answer the three broad thematic questions.

Ice Core Workshop: Planning for the Future

Dr. Paul Mayewski discussed the recently held Ice Core Workshop. The workshop provided the opportunity for the community to discuss where future drilling efforts should be. The highest priority was to recover a deep inland WAIS core. Recommendations for the future included:

  • Maintain or rebuild capability to collect cores — build an entire new drilling system, scale the drill down to make it similar to the European lighter-weight systems.
  • Expand and continue support for NICL, which is running out of space.
  • Improve polar logistics support to provide alternative ways to support deep drilling through the use of traverse.

Dr. Mayewski added that there was an interest in developing new analytical tools. He also noted that a biological component is missing and that there were many new venues for polar ice coring. It is a tool that could serve a large number of communities.

Planning and Graduate/Postgraduate Education

Dr. Schimel discussed graduate and postgraduate education and mentioned two specific challenges: determining the appropriate training for graduate students/post docs to ensure developing a successful career; and keeping students that have been trained working in the Arctic when initiatives come and go. The continuity of developing Arctic and Antarctic researchers and keeping them engaged is a challenge because one runs the risk of producing excellent graduate students, but not actually producing the next generation of scientists.

Dr. Judith Ramaley, Assistant Director, EHR, joined the discussion by including the challenge of timing the introduction of students to interdisciplinary thinking. She was interested in the Committee's thoughts about students coming in already prepared in disciplines so that they could immediately be introduced to broader sets of issues. She noted that OPP clearly requires an interesting blend of disciplines and the Committee may have some experience and guidance on how EHR should be thinking about this.

Discussion with Assistant Director/Education and Human Resources: Education/Diversity/Outreach

Dr. Judith Ramaley, Assistant Director, EHR briefed the committee on the following:

  • The mission and objectives of EHR and the budget
  • Elements of the overall EHR strategy
  • Primary themes in EHR portfolio
  • NSF Learning for the 21st Century Workforce activities and funding
  • Strategies for improving the participation of minorities in STEM

The Committee discussed a broad range of topics including curriculum of science in colleges and universities, laboratory courses disappearing because of tight budgets, and experiential education. Dr. Ramaley reiterated the importance of the need to think about the role of science in society and the health and the productivity of the STEM workforce. She added that this requires integrating research and education and broadening participation.

The meeting adjourned at 5:45 pm.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

The meeting reconvened at 8:40 a.m.

Education and Outreach
Follow-up on Discussion with AD/EHR
Future of TEA Program

Dr. Martin Jeffries briefed the Committee on Teachers Experiencing Antarctica and the Arctic (TEA) program. He mentioned that approximately 320 "TEA Associates" work with the TEA teachers (without going to the field themselves), so quite a number of people are impacted by the progrm. Mr. Guy Guthridge noted that for a five-year ESI award and various supplements, OPP furnished a total of $302,000 towards the TEA program; EHR provides several million. The Committee expressed strong support for encouraging or requiring TEA participants to interact with the Arctic community when possible.

Dr. Erb noted that OPP needs to determine whether or not this program is optimally effective or if there is a more effective way to achieve the same goals. Further, is this more than just an experience for the teachers involved? Does it have a larger impact?

Dr. Wayne Sukow, Section Head (Acting) Grades K-8, Division of Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education, noted that the TEA program has a booth at the National Science Teacher's meeting which attracts 20,000 teachers with workshops with multiple presentations. Dr. Sukow added that one of the original teachers from the 1992 cohort is still active in the program, involved in public outreach such as of talking to museums, newspapers, and helping other teachers. The TEA website is

Diversity in Education and the Workplace

Dr. Bob Wharton briefly discussed current OPP efforts to promote education and diversity, including the New Investigators Workshop, REU support, activities dealing with the Alaskan native communities, and the schoolyard LTER. Dr. Wharton introduced Ms. Dawn Gustafson, Recruiting Manager for Raytheon Polar Services Company, and Phillip LoPicolo, staffer for the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (Congressman Reyes). Ms. Gustafson briefed the Committee on RPSC's efforts to increase diversity. The suggestion was made to use the community colleges as a conduit into specific communities NSF is trying to reach.

Chilean Antarctic Research Activities

Dr. Lynch introduced Ms. Patricia Vicuña from the Chilean Antarctic Institute. Ms. Vicuña briefed the committee on the Chilean Antarctic Institute, which coordinates the Chilean activities of scientists in Antarctica and plans and organizes its own expeditions and research.

Dr. Wharton noted that NSF is exploring an exchange program with Chile through the American Fellows Program, a joint State Department/NSF activity.

NAS/PRB Workshop on Frontiers in Polar Biology

Dr. Jody Deming welcomed Dr. Chris Elfring from the Polar Research Board (PRB) and noted that Dr. Bill Detrich agreed to be chair of the new committee on Frontiers in Polar Biology. This activity has grown out of discussions by the OAC committee several years ago. Dr. Detrich noted that the goal of the committee is to examine the opportunities and challenges for conducting research on Arctic and Antarctic organisms using new biological technologies. The new committee will identify high priority research questions that can benefit from the application of new biological tools; recommend ways to facilitate and accelerate the transfer of genomic tools to polar research; discuss applications of genomics science and functional genomics to polar bio-disciplines; determine whether the development of polar specific technologies is necessary; and seek ways to facilitate interaction between polar biological scientists and the broader community of biologists

Polar Paleogeobiology

Dr. Joann Stock led the discussion of the paper prepared by Mary Albert on polar paleogeobiology subsequent to the last OAC meeting. The intention was that this paper capture ideas that should be included in any discussion on Frontiers in Polar Biology. With a change to one sentence at the beginning of the document, the Committee approved the document. It was noted that terrestrial ideas were lacking. Josh Schimel will take the lead on reviewing and adding any necessary activities to the document.

Dr. Erb expressed to the committee that this document is important not only to inform the Frontiers in Polar Biology workshop activities, but also as information to be considered in OPP's out-year planning. Dr. Erb repeated his invitation to the Committee to provide input into that process.

Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA)

Dr. Igor Krupnick introduced Dr. Henry Huntington, President of ARCUS. Dr. Pyle furnished a progress report on the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) titled, Assessment of Consequences of Climate Variability and Change and the Effects of Increased UV in the Arctic Region. Dr. Pyle supplied the website address for those who were interested in viewing contributions. Dr. Huntington expressed his wish that ultimately the Native Alaskans will use this assessment when making local policy decisions.

Discussion with NSF Deputy Director

Dr. Joseph Bordogna, Deputy Director, provided an overview of current issues at NSF, including a summary NSF’s Strategic Plan and three overarching strategies: develop intellectual capital, integrate research and education, and promote partnerships. Dr. Bordogna also discussed the revised GPRA process, which has one GPRA advisory committee reviewing GPRA materials for the entire Foundation. The new AC will have representatives from each Directorate/Office advisory committee. Dr. Bordogna thanked the committee for their work and advice.

Planning for GPRA Report

Ms. Altie Metcalf noted changes in the GPRA reporting. NSF has tried to take some of the burden off of the individual advisory committees by creating a group called a Performance Assessment Committee (PAC), which will include one representative from each advisory committee. One change to note is that OPP's GPRA report deadline has moved up by 3 months to August, and thus will be sent to the Director before the OAC meets in the fall.

Dr. Erb noted that the involvement of the committee in the past several years in this GPRA exercise and the COV activities has been very helpful. Dr. Erb recognized that this activity requires quite a bit of the committee's time and asked the Committee whether they found it useful to be involved in assessing OPP's performance. After discussion, the committee concluded that they could review the GPRA draft by e-mail and provide comments. A decision was not made on who from the OAC would be recommended for the PAC.

Streamlining the Science Support Planning Process

Mr. Brian Stone reviewed the 2001 Committee of Visitors' recommendations on developing procedures that would streamline the logistics planning process. A planning group has been proposed structured around Project Support Managers. The committee liked the concept of the process including a Project Support Manager and noted that there was a model like this being used when Antarctic Support Associates was the support contractor. Mr. Stone mentioned that the model stemmed from the Marine group because their process worked very well in planning and having someone deploy with the scientists to become part of the field team. Dr. Erb noted that OPP would be having more internal discussions on this matter and would appreciate the Committee's input. The Committee was pleased that OPP had considered thoughtfully the COV recommendation.

Other Business

Dr. Deming raised the issue on the SBI cruise and interacting with the Native community. She noted that the committee could make themselves available to work with OPP to represent the broader scientific community in meetings with Native groups. Dr. Pyle noted that the Arctic Logistics Information Access System (ALIAS) website being developed by ARCUS will allow people to identify themselves as "experts" so they can be contacted by researchers regarding working in the Arctic.

Another remaining issue is the proposed reorganization of the Arctic System Science program. The committee discussed whether a subcommittee of the OAC would be willing to work with OPP during the summer. It was agreed that it would be better if the people involved had not received funding through the ARCSS program. It was noted that Drs. Deming, Jeffries, and Krupnik have never received ARCSS funding. Dr. Lynch indicated she could act as a point of contact and would solicit volunteers for a subcommittee when OPP reaches the point of requesting input on this issue.

The third issue brought up by the committee was continued discussion on how to encourage new researchers in polar science and how to address the problem of new researchers requiring a better understanding of work in extreme environments before they submit proposals. The concept of matching researchers experienced in fieldwork with new researchers was discussed.

The last issue was the future of TEA. Dr. Jeffries noted that a decision should be reached this summer in order for the program to continue uninterrupted. Dr. Erb indicated there is fairly broad support for the TEA concept and that OPP would continue discussions with EHR and Judith Ramaley on this issue during the summer.

Dr. Lynch thanked the Committee for their attendance and participation.

The meeting adjourned at 3:00 p.m.

See Agenda for this meeting.

Last Updated

April, 2003

Polar Programs Advisory Committee Pages
Advisory Committee Home Page Advisory Committee Charter
divider line
Advisory Committee Members Advisory Committee Documents
divider line
Advisory Committee Meetings Committee of Visitors Documents
divider line
Advisory Committee Meeting Materials Polar Programs-supported Workshops

divider line

Office of Polar Programs SITE MAP!