By Larry Hinzman, Assistant Director for Polar Sciences
The Arctic is changing at an unprecedented pace, transforming in ways that are impacting communities and ecosystems in Alaska and around the world. Last December, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) put forth the Arctic Research Plan 2022-2026, a strategy to provide the science we need to address these changes. The plan provides pathways to strengthen relationships between the many people and organizations working to make the Arctic resilient, including Federal agencies, Indigenous communities, academic and non-Federal researchers, the State of Alaska, nonprofits, and private sector and international organizations.
Now, OSTP is releasing a companion document for the Arctic Research Plan: an implementation plan outlining the specific actions that the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) and its member agencies will take in the next two years to promote Arctic research.
This new implementation plan provides short-term research objectives and deliverables to support community resilience and well-being, advance scientific understanding of ongoing changes in the Arctic system, create more sustainable economies and livelihoods, and improve risk management and hazard mitigation.
These plans represent a new approach to federally supported research in the Arctic. Through advancing coordination of Arctic research, the Biden-Harris Administration aims to provide information that will directly improve the well-being of people and ecosystems in the region. With this shift to two-year implementation plans, we can quickly respond to the needs and priorities of Arctic communities.
The implementation plan outlines 90 actions centered around supporting research, creating products, and coordinating information sharing. Deliverables include, for example:
- Producing a report on ice-dependent marine mammals, such as walrus, bowhead whales, and seals, in the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas. This report will help identify and forecast changes that may impact food security and the long-term sustainability of traditional food supplies.
- Developing and assessing ice-sheet models for better prediction of sea-level rise in the Arctic and around the globe.
- Developing models of fish distribution and populations to improve understanding of how key fishery species in the Northern Bering Sea and Southern Chukchi Sea are responding and may respond further to climate change.
- Investigating how harmful algal blooms impact human health, and developing messaging to share what is learned.
- Identifying the top 10 threats and hazards to communities and critical, remote infrastructure in the State of Alaska.
These concerted efforts will help communities adapt to pressing environmental changes and make better-informed decisions.
While the Arctic Research Plan is a federally drafted plan, non-Federal partners are key to its success. IARPC is grateful to the members of the Arctic research community who contributed ideas and input to the development of this plan, and asks that interested community members join its web platform, IARPC Collaborations, to participate in implementing the plan.