NOAA's Arctic Action Plan - Supporting the National Strategy for the Arctic Region
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is actively engaged in the Arctic, providing science, service, and stewardship to this rapidly changing region, its inhabitants, and the Nation. Through its broad range of activities, NOAA is well prepared to make significant contributions, to the extent possible within existing resources, to all three lines of effort in the recently released U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic Region (May 2013) and its subsequent Implementation Plan (January 2014). As described in its 2011 Arctic Vision and Strategy, NOAA has six strategic goals in the Arctic, each of which directly supports the National Strategy.
Advancing U.S. security interests in the Arctic requires improved maritime domain awareness, for which NOAA’s weather and sea ice forecasts are critically important. NOAA’s sea ice research strengthens forecasts of both ice and weather conditions as well as building a better understanding of the direct links between sea ice and climate. As a result of this research, the complicated linkages among melting sea ice, changing climate, and weather patterns in the Arctic and around the globe are becoming more apparent and allow better planning to cope with Arctic change.
NOAA plays a key role in pursuing responsible Arctic region stewardship. Foundational science enables better understanding of Arctic ecosystems, the atmosphere, climate, and their dynamic interconnections. NOAA’s fisheries research and management programs are likewise vital, particularly for the economically important U.S. Bering Sea fisheries. Research and stewardship of marine ecosystems and protected species like marine mammals promote sustainable use, conservation, and protection from potential impacts of offshore development, increased shipping, and environmental degradation. NOAA provides important services to coastal communities by improving safe Arctic maritime access with mapping and charting as well as increasing preparedness and communities’ resilience to intensifying weather. NOAA is also an important partner in hazard response and mitigation (e.g., providing scientific support to the U.S. Coast Guard after oil spills). Research relevant to oil spills, sea ice, and marine ecosystems will help to prepare for and to protect against potential environmental disasters in the Arctic.
All of NOAA’s Arctic activities are united in one aspect: leveraging national and international partnerships and collaborating to support common Arctic goals. NOAA strengthens international cooperation through the Arctic Council, joint research opportunities, and provision of services. NOAA also has many successful Arctic national partnerships, within and outside the Federal Government. Existing partnerships will be strengthened and new ones developed in the coming years as NOAA continues its work to address the Nation’s challenges in the Arctic.