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NOAA has numerous and diverse capabilities that support scientific, stewardship, and management needs in the Arctic region. 

A strategic approach that leverages NOAA’s existing priorities and strengths, as well as those of our national and international partners, is needed to guide the process. A vision, plan, and structure for supporting NOAA’s activities in the Arctic are characterized in the following documents:

NOAA's Arctic Vision & Strategy

“NOAA envisions an Arctic where decisions and actions related to conservation, management, and use are based on sound science and support healthy, productive, and resilient communities and ecosystems.” 

NOAA will focus its efforts on the following six priority goals needed to realize this vision:

  1. Forecast Sea Ice
  2. Strengthen Foundational Science to Understand and Detect Arctic Climate and Ecosystem Changes
  3. Improve Weather and Water Forecasts and Warnings
  4. Enhance International and National Partnerships
  5. Improve Stewardship and Management of Ocean and Coastal Resources in the Arctic
  6. Advance Resilient and Healthy Arctic Communities and Economies

These goals were selected because they represent areas where NOAA can address urgent and timely issues that meet two key criteria: providing the information, knowledge, and policies to meet NOAA mandates and stewardship responsibilities, and providing the information, knowledge, and services to enable others to live and operate safely in the Arctic. Each goal also fulfills international goals and establishes, enhances, or leverages partnerships with other Arctic nations, international organizations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations, academia, and local communities. The goals are also geared towards generating large societal benefits relative to the resources required and strengthening NOAA’s engagement, politically, scientifically, internationally, and publicly.

-Executive Summary of NOAA’S Arctic Vision and Strategy

NOAA's Arctic Action Plan

A national strategy to advance U.S. security and stewardship interests in the Arctic was developed by President Obama in 2014. In keeping with the goals and tenets of his strategy, NOAA released its Arctic Action Plan—a document that provides NOAA scientists, stakeholders and partners a roadmap to make shared progress in monitoring, understanding, and protecting this vast, valuable, and vulnerable region.

The document provides an integrated overview of NOAA’s diverse Arctic programs and how these missions, products, and services support the goals set forth in the President’s National Strategy for the Arctic Region. The plan also provides linkages to other agency and interagency plans crafted with constituent input, to include the National Ocean Policy, the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee Five Year Research Plan, NOAA’s Arctic Vision and Strategy, and more.

NOAA's Administrative Order for Arctic Activities

The Arctic is defined as the lands and waters above the red line, according to the Arctic Research and Policy Act (Credit: NOAA’s Arctic Vision and Strategy).


NOAA’s Administrative Order (NAO) 216-120 describes the management and decision-making structure for NOAA’s Arctic activities and outlines the operations, roles, and responsibilities of its components.

The NAO provides coordination across NOAA’s Line and Staff Offices through the formulation of the Arctic Executive Committee and the Arctic Action Team. 

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