Department of Energy


What is your agency’s mission and how does supporting research in the Arctic advance that mission?

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) mission is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. Within DOE, the Office of Science’s mission is to deliver scientific discoveries and major scientific tools to transform our understanding of nature and advance the energy, economic, and national security of the United States.

The Office of Science administers research through six major program offices, including the Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER).  Within BER is the Earth and Environmental Systems Sciences Division (EESSD), which supports most of DOE’s basic science investments in the Arctic. One of EESSD’s goals is to enhance the seasonal to multidecadal predictability of the Earth system using long-term field experiments, DOE user facilities, modeling and simulation, uncertainty characterization, best-in-class computing, process research, and data analytics and management. Understanding the sensitivities, interactions, and feedbacks within and among these components in the Arctic is needed to inform national decision making, including energy policy.

In 2020, DOE re-established an Arctic Energy Office (AEO) with the basic focus on energy, science, and national security. The AEO does not provide funding opportunity announcements, and it will instead coordinate and streamline existing research, development, and deployment activities in the Arctic.

Where would one go to find out what research is being funded by your agency in the Arctic?

EESSD funds Arctic research both at Universities and DOE National Laboratories.

University awards made by the DOE Office of Science can be searched via the Office of Science website. In addition, some awards can be searched at the terrestrial ecosystem science research, Earth and environmental systems modeling research, atmospheric system research, and the atmospheric radiation measurement campaigns.

Some of the larger DOE national laboratory-led efforts that include a focus on the Arctic include:

Where would one go to read about scientific research results from your agency?

The Office of Science has a searchable site for research highlights. Scientific highlights can also be found on the project specific sites listed above.

In terms of budget, approximately how big is your agency’s investment in Arctic research?

The total budget for Earth and Environmental Systems Sciences in fiscal year 2020 was approximately $345M. Besides support provided to long-term ARM observatories, EESSD’s research investments are based on peer review of the proposals received. While EESSD does not dedicate a fixed amount of funding for Arctic research, the annual investment that includes the Arctic as an integral component is on the of order $65M per year.

What are your agency’s funding priorities over the next 2 years?

DOE’s Office of Science supports a diverse portfolio of research to enable energy breakthroughs and unravel nature’s deepest mysteries. Within the Office of Science, the Office of Biological and Environmental Research seeks to achieve predictive understanding of complex biological, earth, and environmental systems. In 2018, EESSD issued a five-year strategic plan, which included five scientific grand challenges, one of which is entitled the “High Latitude Scientific Grand Challenge.” While the Arctic is a critical environmental system, EESSD is organized around key science topics (e.g., modeling, atmospheric sciences, and environmental system science) that represent important areas of uncertainty in the energy/environment relationship. The focus of each of these programs on the Arctic (or any other geographic area) is a function of the relative importance of that area to investigating a variety of research questions within each of the five grand challenge areas.  

How does your agency coordinate and collaborate with other agencies to advance your mission in the Arctic?

As outlined in the EESSD 2018 Strategic Plan, addressing the five grand challenges requires significant coordination and collaboration with multiple agencies because no single program or agency can comprehensively address the full scope of these grand challenges. For the High Latitude challenge, EESSD is working with other agency partners to coordinate and at times collaborate on research initiatives involving the Arctic. These interactions can originate at different levels from PIs to federal program managers, to senior management levels at the agencies. IARPC is a key forum for interagency federal coordination and collaboration regarding Arctic research.

Activities in Alaska

Does your agency have office(s) in Alaska?

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science is headquartered in Washington DC, with a branch office at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Does that office support research?


Where can one go to learn more about your agency’s presence in Alaska?

DOE’s Office of Science funds research grants that are active in Alaska and provides funding to institutions within Alaska. University awards can be searched here.