Arctic ERMA
Polar bears on ice.

As Arctic sea ice continues to contract and thin, energy exploration and transportation activities will be increasing in the region, escalating the risk of oil spills and accidents. In anticipation, NOAA and interagency partners are actively preparing for these possible emergencies.

As a result, NOAA and its partners have developed an Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA®) for the Arctic region. ERMA is a web-based GIS tool that assists both emergency responders and environmental resource managers in dealing with incidents that may harm the environment.

ERMA integrates and synthesizes data—some of which happens in real time—into a single interactive map, providing a quick visualization of the situation and improving communication and coordination among responders and environmental stakeholders.

ERMA brings together all of the available information needed for an effective emergency response in the Arctic's distinctive conditions, such as the extent and concentration of sea ice, locations of ports and pipelines, and vulnerable environmental resources.

In developing this project for the Arctic, NOAA has received valuable support from the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). This partnership with BSEE has improved access to key environmental, commercial, and industrial data sources throughout lease areas in the Arctic. NOAA is also working with Indigenous communities to share information on how ERMA can best support an emergency response and protect the unique lifestyle and resources of the region.

Arctic ERMA is also a pilot project supporting the efforts of the Arctic Council's Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Working Group. Arctic ERMA is a partnership among NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration, NOAA's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, BSEE, the Oil Spill Recovery Institute, and the University of New Hampshire's Coastal Response Research Center.

Visit Arctic ERMA.

Arctic ERMA screenshot.

Arctic ERMA enables emergency planners and responders to present in a spatial environment depictions of sea ice concentrations from the National Snow and Ice Data Center together with aerial observations of changing ice flows. This flexibility and adaptability provides stakeholders in the Arctic with crucial information about where sea ice is thinning in an easy-to-understand way.

How to Use Arctic ERMA

Watch this video for a brief introduction to using the technical features of Arctic ERMA:

More Information about ERMA

ERMA is designed to:

  • Aid in spill preparedness and planning.
  • Assist in coordinating emergency response efforts and situational awareness for human and natural disasters.
  • Help define the extent of potential environmental impacts, supporting the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process.
  • Support ecological recovery and restoration efforts.
  • Provide access to hazard-related information from anywhere you have an internet connection.
  • Visualize data from a variety of sources, with the ability to include additional media such as photos and links to scientific reports.
  • Allow you to customize the data displayed, so you see only the information needed to make a specific decision or action plan.
  • Tell a story or reconstruct the history of an event using animated layers of information.

The application has been customized with specific data for 10 ERMA sites covering the United States and its territories. ERMA sites have secure-access accounts; however, publicly available environmental and baseline data are openly accessible for all regions.

ERMA Overview: Find out more information about the ERMA application.

Questions: Contact us with your questions, comments, or suggestions for ERMA.