BOEM Joins National Science Foundation And International Partners To Study Impacts Of Development In The Arctic

Sub title
NSF ArcSEES collaboration to focus research on Arctic sustainability
Release Date
Washington, DC

Marjorie Weisskohl
Peter West
National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and international partners, has made the first round of awards under a program that supports interdisciplinary science important to understanding the sustainability of the Arctic. The research will examine the impacts of the changing natural environment and socio-economic conditions on the region.

Six projects have been funded as part of the NSF Arctic Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (ArcSEES) program. They are located at 12 institutions and include collaborative investigators from the U.S., France, Canada, Russia, Finland, Germany, and the UK. ArcSEES grants support academic, management, indigenous, and industry scientists.

“BOEM welcomes the opportunity to partner with NSF and other world-class scientific organizations looking at Arctic sustainability," said Tommy P. Beaudreau, BOEM Director. 

“Twenty years ago, the Arctic Council emphasized the need to engage science for sustainability in the high north,” said Erica Key, ArcSEES program manager in the Division of Polar Programs in NSF’s Geosciences Directorate. “In that time, the Arctic environment and population has changed considerably. ArcSEES is a timely approach to understanding and mitigating the impacts of environmental change on Arctic people.”

The NSF Division of Polar Programs, the Geosciences Directorate, and the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) contributed funding to the first round of awards as did BOEM and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), an organization within the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research. Submissions to the NSF’s ArcSEES solicitation program drew the interest of more than 250 scientific collaborators from 10 countries as well as management entities from the local to the multi-national level.

BOEM will focus its funding, combined with NSF funds, on two ArcSEES studies related to the bureau’s offshore energy management decisions for the Alaskan Outer Continental Shelf:

  • The first study, Cumulative Effects of Arctic Oil Development - planning and designing for sustainability, will measure and assess long-term cumulative impacts of increases in the oil-and-gas-industry infrastructure in the Prudhoe Bay area of Alaska, with the goal of reducing the impacts of future development in the region. Donald Walker, University of Alaska Fairbanks, will be the Principal Investigator.
  • The second, Walrus Adaptability and Long-term Responses; Using multi-proxy data to project sustainability, will examine the vulnerability and resilience of the walrus population off Alaska's North Slope. This will enhance the bureau’s understanding of the complex interplay between climate change; walrus population dynamics and structure; health, habits, feeding ecologies and foraging locations; and subsistence harvesting by Alaska Native hunters. Nicole Misarti, University of Alaska Fairbanks, will be the Principal Investigator.

"This partnership leverages federal resources to advance our knowledge on Arctic sustainability and deliver high quality science for decision making on offshore energy," said Guillermo Auad, who led BOEM’s coordination efforts with the NSF.

"The participation of CNRS through this new partnership with the NSF and other U.S. institutions saw the selection of a project that includes French teams, and I am happy with this result," says Jean-François Stephan, director of the National Institute of Earth Sciences and Astronomy at CNRS.

CNRS coordinates the new French Arctic Initiative in which international cooperation occupies a privileged place, he added.

ArcSEES supports multi-year, interdisciplinary research that focuses on four thematic areas: the natural and living environment, the built environment, natural resource development, and governance. The program recognizes that there are gaps in the scientific understanding of the rapidly changing environmental, social, economic, built and managed systems in the Arctic as well as their complex interactions and, as result, deficiencies in the science that guides policymaking.

For additional information about the six research grants, please visit the NSF news release site and the original solicitation.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of offshore conventional and renewable energy resources.