National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


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

NOAA's Mission: Science, Service and Stewardship

  1. To understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts;
  2. To share that knowledge and information with others; and
  3. To conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.

NOAA envisions an Arctic where:

  • Conservation, management, and use are based on sound science and support healthy, productive, and resilient communities; and
  • The global implications of Arctic change are better understood and predicted.

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

NOAA supports Arctic research through each of its six Line Offices specific to the mission of that office with collaboration across offices where there are common research goals. NOAA uses the 1984 Arctic Research Policy Act definition of the Arctic in our Arctic Action Plan; however, when speaking of our High Arctic Research, we mean work north of the Bering Strait.

The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, water, observations, and climate data, forecasts and warnings 24/7 for the protection of life and property, and the enhancement of the national economy. The NWS Alaska Region has a focus on weather forecasts and warnings for Alaska and its surrounding waters. A new Arctic Testbed and Proving Ground (ATPG) has been established, which facilitates testing and evaluation of new research, guidance, forecast techniques, products, and services to improve forecast process and decision support activities in Alaska and the adjacent Arctic. In addition, an Alaska Environmental Science and Services Integration Center (AESSIC) has been recently approved. The AESSIC will allow NOAA to better meet the current and emerging cross-cutting needs of partners, customers, and stakeholders in Alaska, as well as those that operate in Alaska waters (e.g., harmful algal bloom forecasts, impacts to fish stocks, etc.). It will also enhance the integration of interagency science and service delivery (e.g., USGS, BOEM, BSEE, NPS, BLM, USFS, NASA, EPA, etc.) to address impacts (e.g., ecological) in the Arctic and attempt to quantify the economic value chain.   

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is responsible for the stewardship of the nation's ocean resources and their habitat. Vital services for the nation include: productive and sustainable fisheries; safe sources of seafood; the recovery and conservation of protected resources; and healthy ecosystems—all backed by sound science and an ecosystem-based approach to management. In Alaska, NOAA Fisheries research supports sustainable management and conservation of Alaska marine species with economic and cultural benefits for the nation. Alaska waters support some of the largest and most lucrative commercial fisheries in the world; large and diverse populations of whales, seals, sea lions, and porpoises; and Alaska native hunting and fishing communities.

The National Ocean Service (NOS) provides data, tools, and services that support coastal economies and their contribution to the national economy. NOS is dedicated to advancing safe and efficient transportation and commerce, safety and risk reduction, stewardship, recreation, and tourism.

The National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) provides secure and timely access to global environmental data and information from satellites and other sources to promote and protect the Nation's security, environment, economy, and quality of life.

The Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) administers the NOAA fleet of ships & aircraft and trains divers to safely facilitate Earth observation.

The Office of Atmospheric and Oceanic Research (OAR) funds research, including observations, that advance NOAA’s mission. OAR supports the Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes where much of the foundational Arctic research done by NOAA takes place. NOAA also provides some grant opportunities.

NOAA’s Arctic Program website provides highlights of some of NOAA’s Arctic research.

NOAA’s Arctic Action Plan provides an overview of the goals, research focus areas, and collaborating line offices engaged in Arctic research. This plan is currently being updated.

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

NOAA results are published in peer-reviewed and technical publications. NOAA research is used to manage fish stocks and marine mammals, develop policy recommendations, and is critical to navigation, weather prediction, and responses to natural disasters. The NOAA Library is one resource for locating publications and images by NOAA. Please see specific Line Office websites for additional information.

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

Over the next two years, NOAA will continue to work towards achieving results in the following priority areas:

  • Responding to extreme weather and water events;
  • Powering the blue economy; and
  • Enhancing our observational and cyber infrastructure.

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

NOAA is actively engaged in the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) and currently co-chairs some of the IARPC Collaboration Teams. NOAA is a co-chair of the U.S. Arctic Observing Network Board, developing a national approach to observing in the Arctic and contributing to the international efforts of Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON).

NOAA has been an active contributor to the World Meteorological Organization’s Arctic Regional Climate Center Network (ArcRCC-N) that provides pan-Arctic seasonal forecasts, climate monitoring, and operational and climatological data to users in the Arctic region.

In addition, through initiatives such as SAON, events like the Arctic Science Ministerial, and engagement with the Arctic Council and its working groups and task forces, NOAA cultivates and maintains strong relationships with international partners in the Arctic (including the seven other Arctic States) to find synergies between research objectives and maximize the results of our research investments. NOAA also promotes its research for science-based policy decisions in both interagency and international discussions.

NOAA works closely with the State of Alaska and other Alaskan stakeholders including the University of Alaska, other federal agencies operating in the SoA, commercial industry and others.

The NWS Alaska Region has a number of relationships with US federal agencies. We have a very close relationship with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Alaska. We collaborate with the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) in monitoring airborne volcanic ash, which is a major hazard to the aviation industry in Alaskan airspace. Aircraft encounters with ash clouds can diminish visibility, damage flight control systems, and cause jet engines to fail. Air traffic controllers and pilots must be quickly notified of volcanic eruptions to avoid volcanic ash clouds. NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) collaborate with the Washington, D.C., and Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers (VAACs) and other state and federal agencies to issue ashfall advisories and warnings. In addition, the USGS owns and maintains the river gages in Alaska, which provide the NWS Alaska Pacific River Forecast Center (APRFC) with vital stream-flow data needed to accomplish our mission. Additional snow, water, and river information is acquired from the National Park Service (NPS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), and the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS). The APRFC collaborates with these agencies to enable data ingest into our database for situational awareness and flood forecasting. The APRFC then posts the data to the online Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service (AHPS) so that agency users and the general public have access to these real time data sets. The NWS Alaska Sea Ice Program (ASIP) works closely with the National Ice Center (NIC) (a trilateral agency effort between NOAA, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Navy) discussing changing sea ice conditions and patterns around Alaska waters, collaborating on sea ice support for research projects and rescue situations, and sharing RadarSAT2 Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery. NWS Alaska Region also has worked with partners at the State of Alaska's Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys on the development of color-indexed elevation maps for flood-vulnerable coastal communities in western Alaska, where current NWS modeling resources for inundation are limited owing to the lack of datum in Alaska. The NWS Alaska Region also works closely with the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) to prioritize locations where a need exists for additional tidal stations along Alaska's coastlines vulnerable to coastal erosion, and, together,  installed a new NWLON station at Unalakleet. The NWS also partnered with the Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) facility in Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow) to capitalize on their automated upper-air launch capability, which now releases a total of four balloons per day, two of which are funded by the NWS.

NOAA Fisheries partners with other federal agencies, the State of Alaska, academic, international, industry, and coastal community partners to study and understand the living marine resources in Alaskan waters. NOAA fisheries at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center has routinely surveyed the southeastern Bering Sea benthic fish and invertebrate populations since 1975, pelagic southeastern Bering Sea fish species since 1979, and marine mammals in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas since 1979. More recently, ecosystem, benthic, and pelagic surveys for fish and invertebrate species have been periodically conducted in the northeastern Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea, and Beaufort Sea.

OMAO funds aircraft and vessel time in support of NOAA missions. This includes coordination with the University National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) to schedule vessels in cooperation with NSF and Navy. Collaborative field programs are often supported with funding from OMAO.

Research supported by OAR is often conducted in collaboration with other agencies such as NSF, BOEM, NASA, ONR, and others. These collaborations may be enhanced or supported by the IARPC network that enables communication among researchers, funding program managers, and agency leadership. OAR facilities such as the Barrow Environmental Observatory encourage agencies to utilize the available capabilities to field projects.

Activities in the State of Alaska

Does your agency have office(s) in the State of Alaska (SoA)?

NOAA has offices in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Kodiak, and Dutch Harbor.

NWS has weather stations across Alaska - see this detailed list

NOAA Fisheries has laboratories and a regional office in Juneau, as well as laboratory facilities in Kodiak, Alaska; Seattle, Washington; and Newport, Oregon that support research in Alaska - see this detailed list of NOAA Fisheries locations

NESDIS hosts satellite downlink facilities based out of Fairbanks

OAR supports the Barrow Baseline Observatory outside of Utqiagvik 

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

This web resource summarizes NOAA’s offices in Alaska that work closely with SoA and other stakeholders, as well as NOAA resources and partnerships in the region. NOAA offices in Alaska are an important connection that ensures NOAA is providing services needed by people in Alaska.