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Developing Science Drivers for a Proposed US High Arctic Research Center: Fairbanks, AK - October 2019


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Type of project
Project theme
Education & Outreach
Project topic
Education & Outreach

Project details

Science / project summary

Rapidly changing conditions in the Arctic have increased access to natural resources and maritime routes. Such increased access affects not only the natural environment, but also impacts the lives of Indigenous and local residents. Thawing permafrost and coastal erosion affect infrastructure, communities, and ecosystems. The enormity of the region exacerbates security and safety concerns created by lack of infrastructure, insufficient emergency response capabilities, and scarce monitoring. Evolving Arctic conditions also present significant challenges for scientists and policy makers, such as insufficient observations and monitoring to build more robust climate models. This project supports a conference in Fairbanks, Alaska, to scope the science drivers for the creation of a US High Arctic Research Center (HARC) located at or near Oliktok Point in Alaska. Intended outcomes of the conference include well-defined science questions to be answered by access to the Arctic that HARC would create, the potential role for the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies, and a list of stakeholders. This workshop will engage Arctic experts and knowledge holders to develop scientific justification for evaluating the potential establishment of another permanent research facility in the Arctic. The pursuit of a US High Arctic Research Center will formalize relationships and communication pathways among scientists, Arctic communities, industry, state and federal agencies, and international partners. This workshop will engage Arctic domain science experts to articulate the research needs and scientific priorities for a permanent, year-round research station in the US High Arctic where restricted air space, coastal access, and existing infrastructure will improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of basic science and operations. Experts from disciplines across Earth sciences will be brought together to help define the science drivers and expand interdisciplinary collaborations to create broader impacts to basic research including better forecasting, enhanced modeling, and improved understanding of environmental change and its ramifications. The workshop will identify the key science missions and technical activities that would be essential to realize this proposition. While the increase in human interaction with the Arctic environment is primarily due to the increase in natural resource exploitation and the changing global climate, these activities also create cultural, development, and socioeconomic changes and opportunities. The pursuit and establishment of a multifaceted research, education, and outreach program, as will be developed through this project, may ensure that the knowledge gained by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and its HARC partners will be developed with, and transferred, to Arctic stakeholders.