New Report to Congress Reflects on the Successes of the Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021

Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a report on the research and collaborations achieved under the 2017-2021 Arctic Research Plan. The report – which helps contextualize some of the unprecedented and recent changes in the Arctic – serves as the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee’s (IARPC) biennial report to Congress. It also reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensuring that federal agencies work together to support knowledge and adaptation in the face of climate change.

“Completion of the Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021 has been an enormous undertaking made possible by the contributions of hundreds of researchers, Federal and state employees, community members, and more,” said Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee Executive Director Dr. Larry Hinzman. “Their work has created a body of knowledge that enables policymakers and communities to make informed decisions to effectively respond to the rapid changes facing Arctic peoples and our nation today.”

More on the Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021:

Over the past five years, U.S. Federal agencies, researchers, and communities from around the world have come together via the Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021 to track and understand these shifts.  Using the IARPC Collaborations website, the Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021 brought 16 Federal agencies and offices together to coordinate and amplify their efforts in the Arctic. A total of 12 collaboration teams – communities of practices comprising funding agencies, Arctic researchers, and residents – worked together to address the 122 performance elements laid out in the plan.

The report highlights achievements in four areas: collaboration, observations, modeling and projection, and applying research to human needs. Key projects highlighted include:

  • Collaborations among researchers and Arctic residents helped to identify where future observations, models, predictions, and studies gain insight into how changing conditions may affect the intensity and distribution of harmful algal blooms. Harmful algal blooms produce toxins that can harm both wildlife and people.
  • Programs like NGEE Arctic and NASA’s ABoVE campaign combined field observations, experiments, and data synthesis to better model future permafrost thaw. Thawing permafrost can damage infrastructure, reduce Indigenous communities’ ability to freeze food for long-term storage, and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
  • Models and projections considered what the climate may look like in future decades and centuries, and how those changes may impact humans and ecosystems. For example, the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project of CMIP6 provided an estimate of the amount of ice lost from the Greenland Ice Sheet by 2100.

Over the past five years, Federal agencies and collaboration team members working with IARPC quantified the Arctic system through observations, built deeper understanding of Arctic processes, created models that reduce uncertainty about future change, and strengthened human resilience through relationships and applied research. IARPC Collaborations has enabled more accomplishments on an accelerated timeline by fostering collaborations among Federal and non-Federal researchers. This work has created a strong foundation for continuing to understand the Arctic system through the new Arctic Research Plan 2022-2026, which was released in December.

More on IARPC:  IARPC is chaired by the Director of the National Science Foundation and brings together leaders from 18 agencies (including 2 new agencies), departments, and offices across the U.S. Federal government to enhance research in the Arctic. Through its innovative web platform, IARPC Collaborations, IARPC leverages the diverse and broader community of Arctic researchers and residents to implement the five-year Arctic Research Plan.

More information on IARPC and the Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021 and Arctic Research Plan 2022-2026 can be found at iarpccollaborations.org.

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