This document has been archived. For current NSF funding opportunities, see
of Polar Programs
Arctic Research Program
NSF’s Arctic Research Program seeks to gain a better understanding
of the Arctic’s biological, geological, chemical, and sociocultural
processes, and the interactions of ocean, land, atmosphere, life, and human
systems in the Arctic and with global systems. Arctic research is supported
by the Office of Polar Programs (OPP) and by other NSF disciplinary programs.
The program is structured to allow coordination across NSF disciplines when
appropriate, enable joint review and funding of Arctic proposals, and provide
mutual support of projects with high logistics costs.
NSF is one of 12 Federal agencies that sponsor or conduct Arctic science,
engineering, and related activities. As mandated by the Arctic Research
and Policy Act of 1984, planning for Federal interagency research is coordinated
through the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee, chaired by NSF.
Further information on other agency programs is presented in the U.S.
Arctic Research Plan and its biennial revisions.
The Arctic is the homeland of native peoples and attention must be given
to all aspects of research and education that may affect their lives. For
further information in this regard, see the interagency statement "Principles
for the Conduct of Research in the Arctic" (https://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/arctic/conduct.jsp).
All Arctic research grantees are expected to abide by these guidelines.
Additional information can also be found in the Arctic Research
Opportunities program announcement (NSF
Submission of Proposals
Submit proposals for field projects (including projects requiring an oceanic
research vessel) by 15 February of the year preceding fieldwork.
A minimum of 9 months advance notice is required for research vessels
needing clearance for Russian waters.
For fieldwork in Greenland, fill out the Danish Polar Center application
form (http://www.dpc.dk/sw6492.asp) and include it in "Supplementary Docs" in
your FastLane proposal.
The Office of Polar Programs funds arctic research through these programs:
1. Arctic Natural Sciences Program
Provides core support for disciplinary
research in the following areas:
- Atmospheric Sciences—Research focuses on stratospheric
and tropospheric processes, climate, and meteorology. Research on past
climates and atmospheric gases preserved in snow and ice is encouraged.
also supports research on atmosphere-sea and atmosphere-ice interactions.
In upper atmosphere and space physics, research interests include auroral
studies, atmospheric dynamics and chemistry, and magnetosphere-ionosphere
- Biological Sciences—Research emphasis is on understanding
the adaptation of organisms; freshwater, marine, and terrestrial biology;
organismal biology; ecology; microbiology; ecosystem structure and processes;
and the consequences of ultraviolet radiation.
- Earth Sciences—Research includes all subdisciplines of
terrestrial and marine geology and geophysics. Of greatest interest is a
better understanding of Arctic geological processes that are important for
improving our ability to interpret the geologic record of environmental
change in the polar regions. Also of interest is better understanding and
reconstruction of the plate tectonic history of the Arctic Ocean.
- Glaciology—Research can focus on the history and dynamics
of all naturally occurring forms of snow and ice including seasonal snow,
glaciers, and the Greenland ice sheet. The program also supports mass balance
modeling, glacial geology, and remote sensing studies of ice sheets.
- Ocean Sciences—Research to expand the knowledge about the
structure of the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas; their physical and biological
interactions with the global hydrosphere; and the formation and persistence
of sea-ice cover.
2. Arctic System Science (ARCSS)
The Arctic comprises a tightly
coupled system of air, ice, ocean, land, and people. The Arctic System
Science (ARCSS) program supports interdisciplinary research on arctic physical,
geological, chemical, biological, and socio-cultural processes that relate
to global change. The purpose is to advance the scientific basis for predicting
change on a time scale from seasons to centuries. Research is thematic
than disciplinary in nature and is organized around the following broad
- How do human activities interact with changes in the Arctic to affect
the sustainability of ecosystems and societies?
- What are the limits of arctic system predictability?
- How will changes in arctic cycles and feedbacks affect arctic and global
These questions emphasize concepts fundamental to research on arctic change,
including predictability, sustainability, and feedbacks. Global change proposals
that focus on the arctic system are also welcome from individual investigators
or small groups of investigators.
ARCSS supports studies that predict and analyze the consequences of environmental
variability and global change. To achieve this, ARCSS supports a Synthesis,
Integration and Modeling Studies (SIMS) effort. A successful ARCSS proposal
normally will connect directly to some suite of existing ARCSS-funded projects;
fill a gap in understanding of the arctic system; connect parts of the arctic
system; help explain the range of states for the arctic system; and focus
on explaining cause and effect.
3. Arctic Social Sciences
Encompasses all areas of social science
supported by NSF, including anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography,
linguistics, political science, psychology, sociology, and related subjects.
The following are areas of particular interest: rapid social change including
the processes and consequences of social, economic, and cultural change;
community viability including issues relating to community and cultural
vitality and survival; and human/environmental interactions including issues
related to subsistence and sustainable development.
The program encourages projects that: include indigenous peoples; are
circumpolar or comparative; integrate social and natural sciences; involve
collaborations between researchers and those living in the Arctic; include
traditional knowledge; and form connections among disciplines, regions,
researchers, communities, and students, including those at grades K–12
level and undergraduate and graduate programs.
Projects Involving Research with Human Subjects -- must ensure that the
subjects are protected from research risks in conformance with the Common
Rule (Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, 45
CFR §690). All projects involving human subjects must either (1)
have approval from the organization's Institutional Review Board (IRB) before
issuance of an NSF award or (2) identify the applicable subsection exempting
the proposal from IRB review, as established in section 101(b) of the Common
Rule. The box for "Human Subjects" should be checked on the proposal
Cover Sheet with the IRB approval date (if available) or exemption subsection
from the Common Rule identified in the space provided.
4. Arctic Research and Education
The integration of research with
outreach and education is important to OPP. Investigators are encouraged
to include these activities in their research proposals in accordance with
the broader impacts review criterion.
Some education and outreach activities may develop during the course of
a research grant that's already been implemented. They may even warrant
a separate proposal. The Arctic Research and Education program supports
these activities in concert with funded research grants and agreements through
supplemental requests and as separate proposal requests to support new ventures
in arctic research and education. Proposals submitted to this program may
include formal or informal education or outreach for students K-12 or higher,
or to the broader public. Most commonly, these awards are made as supplements
to research grants or small grants. The Arctic Research and Education program
seeks to collaborate with other Directorates at NSF to promote the integration
of research and education.
5. Arctic Research and Policy
OPP supports the management of Arctic
data and information. The objective is to make data and information resources
more readily available to researchers. Proposals to integrate data and
information management are encouraged. Further information is available
at the National
Information Services Corporation home page, http://www.nisc.com/request/bibltrial.asp.
6. Arctic Research Support and Logistics
Supports the logistics
components of field research projects and a variety of activities considered
to be research support—most notably, long-term observations. The program
was created to improve access and safety in the Arctic for scientists. It
supports field components of research funded by the Arctic Sciences Section,
other Directorates at NSF, and occasionally other Federal agencies. Support
includes but is not limited to, providing transportation, food, and shelter
while conducting field work; user and day-rate fees at field camps; salaries
of staff hired specifically for field work; and activities such as travel
to coordinate projects with permitting agencies and Native peoples. For
more information, visit the "Arctic Research Support and Logistics" web
page, https://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/arctic/res_log_sup.jsp. Access to logistics from
this program is through the regular proposal process.
The program supports collection, management, and dissemination of data
in the service of the broad arctic research community. Examples include
the establishment or maintenance of long-term observations; the support
of aspects of collecting underway data from ships; the acquisition of satellite
and airborne imagining and mapping data; and the production and dissemination
of user-friendly data products. The program works with several organizations
to meet the needs of arctic field research as described in the Arctic Research
Opportunities program announcement, NSF