NSF News

NSF expands Arctic investment through the Navigating the New Arctic initiative

As Arctic temperatures warm faster than nearly everywhere else on Earth, and with some models projecting an ice-free Arctic Ocean in a few decades, the U.S. National Science Foundation is making new investments in its Navigating the New Arctic initiative to meet these unprecedented challenges head-on.

NSF recently funded 17 projects as part of its Fiscal Year 2021 awards for the NNA program. The awards, totaling $32 million, will directly support 96 investigators across 38 institutions, as well as students, and postdoctoral scholars. The NNA program, with its focus on convergence research across the social, natural, and built environment, supports projects with the potential for meaningful engagement with Arctic communities.

"The Arctic is experiencing a period of unprecedented change," said NSF Assistant Director for Geosciences Alexandra Isern. "Understanding and adapting to this change will require creative new directions for research, education, workforce development, and leveraging of science, engineering and technological advances."

The awards include traditional NSF research and planning grants that provide support for convergent research teams from disparate disciplines and communities. This year, the NNA program also made its first collaboratory award which will study urban resilience across the Arctic. Collaboratory awards are designed to support collaborative teams undertaking research and training initiatives on critical themes of a broad scope related to the changing Arctic.

Important topics addressed by this third cohort of awards include understanding innovative pathways for food security in Arctic communities; modeling the increased maritime activities in the region and associated risks; examining changes in caribou herds and the impacts on the communities that rely on them; and improving freshwater resources, such as rivers, in a changing climate.

In 2017, NNA was identified as one of NSF's 10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investment - ideas that illustrate how basic research could help address pressing problems faced by the United States and the larger global community. With its focus on convergence research, this set of newly awarded projects builds upon the overall NNA goal to support deep collaboration on questions affecting the natural environment, the built environment, and social systems. This year, the NNA program also supported awards to meet goals in enhancing the STEM workforce, engaging international partnerships, and increasing observational capabilities.

More information about Navigating the New Arctic, as well as a full list of awards made in FY 2021 can be found at NSF.gov.