IARPC Approves Scope of Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021

March 9, 2016
By Jessica Rohde

Posted by Jessica Rohde on behalf of Simon Stephenson (NSF) and Sandy Starkweather (NOAA)

Since 2013, IARPC has accelerated the pace of Arctic research by implementing the research outlined in IARPC's Arctic Research Plan: FY2013-2017IARPC-enabled activities have enhanced the effectiveness of Federal Arctic research efforts through interagency collaboration and cooperation with non-federal partners by addressing research ranging from coordinated field deployments to data sharing and interoperability. As a result, knowledge generated has informed key national priorities such as homeland security, energy, water, and food security and natural resources protection.

With 2017 rapidly approaching, the IARPC staff has been hard at work preparing the next Arctic Research Plan FY2017-2021. The IARPC Principals have now approved the scope and structure of the next 5 year plan after a 6 month process of gathering input from agencies, as well as the academic research community, the State of Alaska, local and tribal entities, non-governmental organizations, and industry. 

The structure will include 4 tiers of organization: Policy Drivers, Research Goals, Research Objectives and Performance Elements. Additionally, all components of the plan are designed with guiding principles in mind. The draft guiding principles, as well as Policy Drivers and Research Goals have been approved and are posted below, noting that we expect to refine them as the plan is developed. We also note that the order of the Policy Drivers, Research Goals and Guiding Principles does not reflect a priority or ranking. 

Guiding principles

The federal investment in Arctic research is most effective when a variety of tools and approaches are used to develop knowledge, reflecting the various missions of Federal agencies – for example, supporting basic research, system-level research that includes modeling and synthesis, and research to develop knowledge that improves the delivery of critical services to the public in a timely way.

Federally funded research projects should share plans and results with northern communities. Where appropriate, research activity should encourage full participation in the co-production of knowledge by members of northern communities. At a minimum, this level of participation is appropriate when the focus of the research is on communities, or on issues important to communities. 

Agencies will collaborate to build and sustain a focused network of key observations to understand long-term processes and trends, and to provide contextual data for shorter-term process studies. These observations will include those that directly provide public services and support research.

Data acquired by federally-funded research projects will be broadly available, discoverable and achieve a high standard of interoperability. The capacity to achieve this principle will require strong interagency collaboration.

International collaboration is encouraged between researchers, between agencies, and where appropriate, at the interagency or government-to-government level. Such partnership will equitably share resources and costs and will make the data broadly available, as discussed above.

Policy Drivers

Issues of national importance requiring research to address. The IARPC Plan will include research that will:

  1. Enhance well-being of Arctic residents
  2. Advance stewardship of the Arctic environment
  3. Strengthen national and regional security
  4. Improve understanding of the Arctic as a component of planet Earth

Research Goals

Areas for increased understanding required to support one or more policy driver include: 

  1. Enhance understanding to advance an integrated “One-Health” approach in Arctic and sub-Arctic communities, as well as improve and support the behavioral and physical health of Arctic residents
  2. Advance process and system understanding of the changing Arctic atmospheric composition and dynamics and resulting changes to surface energy budgets
  3. Enhance understanding and improve predictions of the changing sea ice cover
  4. Increase understanding of the structure and functioning of the Arctic marine ecosystems, their role in the climate system, and advance predictive capabilities of their spatiotemporal evolution
  5. Understand and predict the mass balance of mountain glaciers and the Greenland Ice Sheet and their consequences for sea level rise
  6. Understand the processes of Arctic coastal dynamics and options to develop pathways to strengthen community resilience.
  7. Advance understanding of the processes controlling permafrost dynamics and the impacts on ecosystems, infrastructure, and climate feedbacks
  8. Advance an integrated, landscape scale understanding of Arctic terrestrial ecosystems and the potential for future change
  9. Advance integrated Arctic “Environmental Intelligence” for regional and global decision making (Cross Cutting approaches for Observing-Modelling-Data Management)

In the coming months, the IARPC’s Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021 will be drafted with contributions from all IARPC agencies. There will be ample opportunity for the Arctic research community and other stakeholders to contribute to the process. The next opportunity will be at a Community Input Session at Arctic Science Summit Week. Additionally, your ongoing contribution is welcome through participation in one or more of our Collaboration Teams. Anyone who wants to contribute may request an account on our member space, where IARPC Collaborations members share resources and knowledge, coordinate meetings, hold webinars and discuss research activities. 

For more detailed information on the IARPC Arctic Research Plan FY 17-21 process, please view the slides below and visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

These slides are available for download here.

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Sara Bowden, IARPC Executive Secretary
(703) 447-7828

Please direct website questions to Jessica Rohde, Web Manager, at jrohde@arcus.org.