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Arctic Research and Policy

The Office of Polar Programs (OPP) supports NSF's implementation of the Arctic Research and Policy Act.


The Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984, Public Law 98-373, July 31, 1984; amended by Public Law 101-609, November 16, 1990 (ARPA), provides for a comprehensive national policy dealing with national research needs and objectives in the Arctic. The ARPA establishes an Arctic Research Commission (ARC) and an Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) to help implement the Act.

In July 2011 the President signed a memorandum that established IARPC as an Interagency Working Group of the National Science and Technology Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability.



On 10 May 2013, President Barack Obama signed the National Strategy for the Arctic Region.  The United States joins Arctic Council colleagues Canada, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Russia, and Sweden in articulating strategic priorities for this critical region of the world.

The Administration solicited input from Alaska Natives, the State of Alaska and others as it was developing the National Strategy for the Arctic. Successful implementation of the National Strategy will depend upon active engagement with Alaska Natives, the State of Alaska and other key stakeholders. In particular, proceeding with the stewardship of Arctic resources under an Integrated Arctic Management approach requires meaningful input by the State, Alaska Natives, and others. As a further demonstration of its commitment to such input, Administration officials will host roundtable discussions in Alaska to determine how best to move forward with the implementation of the concepts laid out in the National Strategy.

A copy of the National Strategy for the Arctic Region can be found on the White House web site

The National Science Foundation is pleased to have participated in the development of the National Strategy for the Arctic Region.  The release of the Arctic Strategy is timely and builds on collaborations underway across government to identify and address priorities associated with environmental changes in this important region and implications for Arctic residents, the U.S. as an Arctic nation, and the world.  One such effort is the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee, which is chaired by the director of NSF.  Read more about NSF Arctic activities.


In February 2013, the National Science and Technology Council released a five-year Arctic Research Plan that outlines key areas of study the Federal government will undertake to better understand and predict environmental changes in the Arctic.  For more information, go to the Interagency Arctic Research and Policy Committee — Arctic Research Plan page at


The journal Arctic Research of the United States, published by the Office of Polar Programs of the National Science Foundation for the IARPC until 2007, was aimed at national and international audiences of government officials, scientists, engineers, educators, private and public groups, and residents of the Arctic. The publication emphasized summary and survey articles covering U.S. Government-sponsored or funded research rather than on technical reports, and the articles were comprehensible to a non-technical audience. Although the articles went through the editorial review, manuscripts were not refereed for scientific content or merit.

James Osse, a University of Washington field engineer, skims ice from the surface of a hole used to retrieve a deep-sea mooring at the National Science Foundationís North Pole Environmental Observatory. (NSF photo by Peter West)

Arctic researcher collects sea water samples from sea ice

Last updated: 21 April 2014