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NOAA Resources for the Arctic

In February of 2011, NOAA released its Arctic Vision and Strategy, which provides a high-level framework and strategic goals to address NOAA's highest priorities in the Arctic. According to the vision document, NOAA will focus its efforts on the following priority goals:

  • Forecasting sea ice.
  • Strengthening foundational science to understand and detect Arctic climate and ecosystem changes.
  • Improving weather and water forecasts and warnings.
  • Enhancing international and national partnerships.
  • Improving stewardship and management of ocean and coastal resources in the Arctic.
  • Advancing resilient and healthy Arctic communities and economies.

NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) supports this vision and strategy in a variety of ways. Here are resources related to our involvement in Arctic issues, including links to data and information, manuals and job aids, and a list of relevant workshops and research sessions along with their reports.

Data and Information

NOAA's Arctic Theme Page: This NOAA Web collection provides access to widely distributed Arctic data and information for scientists, students, teachers, academia, managers, decision makers and the general public. NOAA's Arctic Vision and Strategy can be downloaded from this site.

Managing for the Future in a Rapidly Changing Arctic: A Report to the President [PDF, 13.6 MB]: This report calls for an integrated management strategy to help Arctic residents who are dealing with rapid impacts on their resources and traditional ways of life, at the same time that new economic activity and opportunities are emerging.

Arctic Science Portal: This website was created to connect researchers, decision-makers, and the general public with easier access to scientific information about the Arctic.

Arctic Navigation: The National Ocean Service website explains why NOAA is concerned about Arctic navigation, where the information we have now comes from, and how the agency plans to tackle major navigation challenges in this region.

ABC's of Arctic Acronyms: OR&R has compiled a useful list explaining common acronyms related to marine science, fishery, and oil spill work in the U.S. Arctic.

Manuals and Job Aids

NOAA's Sampling Guidelines for Arctic Oil Spill Damage Assessments: This is a series of sampling guidelines for collecting high-priority, time-sensitive, ephemeral data in the Arctic after an oil spill to support Natural Resource Damage Assessment and other oil spill science.

Observers' Guide to Sea Ice: This is the online version of a job aid designed for volunteers who report aerial, shipboard, or shoreline observations of ice conditions at sea to authorities, such as the U.S. Coast Guard. In the job aid, emphasis is on conditions of concern to mariners with regard to safe passage of ships.

The Arctic SCAT Manual: A Field Guide to the Documentation of Oiled Shorelines in Arctic Regions [PDF, 1.0 MB]: This manual addresses SCAT issues related to the Arctic: the unique shoreline types found there, the character of the various forms of snow and ice, the behavior of oil, and the activities of SCAT teams in Arctic and cold-climate environments. The Shoreline Assessment Manual developed by NOAA in 2013 is more comprehensive—yet general—applicable to all habitats. The manual describes: SCAT methods and process for conducting shoreline assessment; SCAT team member roles and responsibilities; oil behavior on different shoreline types and applicable countermeasures; and using SCAT recommendations to make cleanup priorities and decisions at oil spills.

Alaska Clean Seas Technical Manuals: Alaska Clean Seas, a non-profit oil spill response cooperative, offers a Technical Manual written specifically for the Arctic environment. Volume 1 of the manual outlines spill response tactics (safety, containment, recovery/storage, tracking/surveillance, shoreline cleanup, etc.) in a variety of conditions and seasonal variations. Volume 2 provides maps of Alaskan resources at risk from a spill. The Field Guide contains tactics descriptions based on those provided in the full Technical Manual.

Workshops and Sessions

OR&R has been involved in a number of workshops and sessions to improve readiness for oil spill response and evaluating impacts to natural resources in the Arctic:

Responding to Oil Spills in Arctic Marine Environments: National Research Council. Report published Jul. 17, 2014.

Arctic ERMA® – Canada/International Workshop: Feb. 12-13, 2013, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

North Slope Borough: An Oil Spill Workshop: Nov. 8-9, 2012, Inupiat Heritage Center, Barrow, Alaska.

Northwest Arctic Borough Oil Spill Workshop: Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) & Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA®):, May 22-23, 2012, Kotzebue, Alaska.

Strengthening Partnerships: NOAA, BOEM, BSEE in the Arctic: February 23–24, 2012, Anchorage, Alaska.

Ecological Risk Assessment: Consensus Workshop: Environmental Tradeoffs Associated with Oil Spill Response Technologies [PDF, 2.5 MB]: Northwest Arctic Alaska. Session 1: Oct. 18-20, 2011. Session 2: Nov. 16-17, 2011.

Arctic ERMA® Workshop: April 5-6, 2011, Anchorage, Alaska.

USCG R&D: Arctic Response Workshop: April 23, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska.

NRDA in Arctic Waters: The Dialogue Begins: April 20-22, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska.

Opening the Arctic Seas: Envisioning Disaster & Framing Solutions: March 18-20, 2008, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire.

Increased Need for Arctic Oil Spill Prevention and Response: Impact of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Ice Operations [PDF, 4.7 MB]: Amy A. Merten, NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration, Coastal Response Research Center. July 12, 2007.

Last updated Wednesday, January 8, 2020 10:09pm PST