Executive summary

The rapid changes occurring in the Arctic are complex, dynamic, and interconnected. Climate change and other environmental changes are profoundly impacting Arctic communities and have global consequences. As a result, emerging research questions are multidisciplinary and are best addressed by multiple Federal agencies working closely with non-Federal partners. Through a targeted approach to cross-cutting priority areas, the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee’s (IARPC) Arctic Research Plan 2022-2026 addresses the most pressing Arctic research needs that require a collaborative approach and can advance understanding of the Arctic and climate change, inform policy and planning decisions, and promote the well-being of Arctic and global communities. The plan’s priority areas respond to challenges identified by Arctic communities, Federal agencies with a presence in Alaska or a responsibility to understand the Arctic region, Federal agencies with Arctic investments, the state of Alaska, Tribal and Indigenous organizations, and other non-Federal entities.

IARPC was established by the Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984 (ARPA) to facilitate coordination and cooperation in Arctic research. Now a subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), IARPC plays a critical role in enhancing scientific monitoring and advancing Arctic research through the coordination of Federal agencies as well as domestic and international collaborators. Every five years, IARPC is required by law (ARPA) “to prepare and execute an Arctic Research Plan in coordination with the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, the Governor of the State of Alaska, residents of the Arctic, the private sector, and public interest groups.” The Arctic Research Plan 2022-2026 is the third plan since IARPC became a subcommittee of the NSTC and builds from the successes and communities of practice established by previous plans. It seeks to integrate these communities and create cross-cutting foci which require a focused research effort.

As with the Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021, this plan adheres to four critical policy drivers in U.S. Arctic research policy that reflect long-standing U.S. interests in the Arctic and the collective priorities of IARPC Federal agencies. Policy drivers include Well-Being, Stewardship, Security, and Arctic-Global Systems.

This plan includes four priority areas with thematic goals that (1) represent broad, cross-cutting themes that need additional research, (2) support one or more policy drivers, (3) meet the mission and interests of more than one Federal agency, and (4) engage multiple existing collaboration teams and non-Federal partners. Priority areas and goals include:

  1. Community Resilience and Health: Improve community resilience and well-being by strengthening research and developing tools to increase understanding of interdependent social, natural, and built systems in the Arctic.
  2. Arctic Systems Interactions: Enhance our ability to observe, understand, predict, and project the Arctic’s dynamic interconnected systems and their links to the Earth system.
  3. Sustainable Economies and Livelihoods: Observe and understand the Arctic’s natural, social, and built systems to promote sustainable economies and livelihoods.
  4. Risk Management and Hazard Mitigation: Secure and improve quality of life through research that promotes an understanding of disaster risk exposure, sensitivity to hazard, and adaptive capacity.

In addition to identifying four priority areas, this plan builds upon five foundational activities. These activities are critical to achieving the priority area goals and will remain foundational to Arctic research beyond the five-year duration of this plan. Foundational activities include: Data Management; Education, Training, and Capacity Building; Monitoring, Observing, Modeling, and Prediction; Participatory Research and Indigenous Leadership in Research; and Technology Innovation and Application.

In contrast to previous IARPC Arctic research plans, this plan presents a high-level strategy without explicit direction on implementation. In order for IARPC to respond more swiftly to emerging or immediate needs, including those caused by climate change, while continuing to support U.S. Arctic policy, this plan will be implemented through biennial implementation plans. These implementation plans will identify specific objectives and deliverables. Four new priority area collaboration teams will be established to direct and coordinate activities to reach goals and ensure collaboration.