Goals and Objectives for
Arctic Research 2015–2016

Defining Our Goals—
A Message from USARC Chair Fran Ulmer

The nations of the world are discovering the importance of the Arctic. The increased interest by governments, companies, universities, and many others is based on the potential of the region to influence their lives, though they may live and work thousands of miles away. The Arctic’s rapidly changing climate, predictions of resource and transportation opportunities, and increased coverage by media that stimulate both curiosity and speculation drive this awareness.

For the four million people who live across the Arctic, this recognition is generally a good thing. We hope that continued investment in research, analysis, planning, and needed infrastructure will improve living conditions for those who call this region home. The focus also provides more awareness of the significant challenges of cold, dark, stormy, remote, and dangerous conditions that must be approached with humility, innovation, and respect for the knowledge of indigenous peoples who have survived in the Arctic for many centuries.

Now more than ever, information based on observation, monitoring, and scientific research is essential to inform the decisions that are being made by the public and private sectors. At a time of constrained budgets, we can be most effective by prioritizing the important questions, choosing the most vulnerable and/or valuable areas to study, and finding optimal ways to work together to advance knowledge and understanding about this very special region.

To meet national goals, the Arctic Research Commission, the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee, the White House Office of Science and Technology, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress must work together to encourage collaboration and commitment of resources.1 There is a lot of work to be done, and the rate of change happening in the Arctic demands our best efforts to pick up the pace.

1 Ulmer, F. 2015. One Arctic. Science, http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aab3119.

About the Report

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Under the Arctic Research and Policy Act, the Commission biennially recommends key goals and objectives (“Goals Report”) for the US Arctic Research Program Plan. To prepare this report, the Commission, through public meetings, sought input from scientific researchers, policymakers, the public in Alaska and throughout the United States, and in the growing number of nations with Arctic interests. The Commission also cosponsored meetings, workshops, and studies, such as the 2014 National Academies studies, “The Arctic in the Anthropocene” and “Responding to Oil Spills in the US Arctic Marine Environment” to help inform its research goals and policies.