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Introduction to the Arctic Research Program

Arctic Research Program

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Arctic Research Program (ARP) provides reliable and relevant research products and information on the Arctic environment to other parts of NOAA, partner agencies and universities and international collaborators. The mission of the ARP is two fold:

  1. Develop sustained Arctic observing and data management capabilities to improve coupled ocean-sea ice-atmosphere monitoring and modeling efforts in order to advance understanding of climate impacts on ecosystems and biological resources, and
  2. Enhance the scientific framework and capabilities forming the foundation for navigation services and spill response, to support increased ship traffic and commercial development across the Arctic Basin.

The ARP occupies a unique niche among U.S. Arctic agency programs because of its support for sustained research observations and its unique partnerships with national and international programs.

To accomplish its primary mission the ARP supports the following lines of effort:

  1. Distributed Biological Observatory (DBO) – The ARP supports annual research cruises to the Pacific Arctic Region where the environment is changing very rapidly leading to shifts in foods webs and ecosystems.  The DBO is designed to be a change detection array that is capable of monitoring and quantifying changes to keystone Arctic species though the collection of a wide range of physical, chemical and biological measurements.  More information about DBO can be found here.

2. Annual Saildrone Surveys – The ARP supports annual surveys using the Saildrone in partnership with NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. The Arctic Saildrone is a wind-powered, autonomous vehicle that collects oceanic and atmospheric environmental intelligence. This Saildrone has the ability to work in the Arctic for months at a time, transmitting up to 2 million samples per day in near real-time via satellite.  More information about the Arctic Saildrone program can be found here.

3. International Arctic Systems for Observing the Atmosphere (IASOA) – The ARP supports IASOA to collect atmospheric measurements at more than ten sites around the Arctic in collaboration with U.S. government agencies and universities as well as international partners such as Finland, Canada, and Russia. These measurements include the monitoring of critical greenhouse gas concentrations, such as carbon dioxide and methane. More information about IASOA can be found here.
4.Sea Ice and Ecosystem Monitoring and Modeling – The ARP supports expanded monitoring and modeling of climate, sea ice, and ecosystem response to changing environmental conditions in order to better inform observational needs.  As part of this support, the ARP joins a number of partners to fund The International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP) that collects real-time data for weather forecasts, sea-ice predictions, and Arctic climate research. More information about IABP can be found here.

5. US Arctic Observing Network (U.S. AON) – The U.S. Arctic Observing Network (U.S. AON) is a collaborative program focused on promoting sustained Arctic observing across national and international partnerships. Contributing to the goal of Arctic research and cooperation, the U.S. AON seeks to promote a sustained and well-defined network of Arctic observations through collaboration. More information about U.S. AON can be found here.

6. Arctic Report Card (ARC) – The Arctic Report Card is a seminal publication of the current state of the Arctic environment that includes a comparison to historical trends. Topics detailed in the annual Report Card include sea ice extent, sea surface temperature, and indicators of ocean health such as ocean acidification. More information about the Arctic Report can be found here.

Along with these six lines of efforts, the ARP makes substantial contributions to national and international activities such as the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC), the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), and the Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON).  


“The Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks through ice in the Arctic circle, July 14, 2015. This image was taken by an Aerostat, a self-contained, compact platform that can deploy multiple sensor payloads and other devices into the air. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)”


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