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The Arctic Research Program (ARP) supports long-term observations and process studies of the Arctic system. Long-term observations are part of the U.S. Arctic Observing Network. Researchers deploy instruments for year-round measurements from moorings, buoys, and use robotic vehicles such as gliders and Saildrones to collect data across the vast Arctic. Research cruises to the Arctic are used to collect samples of water, plankton, fish and other animals, and bottom sediments important for studies of changes in the ecosystems of the Arctic Ocean and the surrounding seas including the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Sea Ice is an important feature of the Arctic system and drives the cold water and air currents from the Arctic that influence global weather and climate. Sea ice thickness and extent have been declining in the past decade. Scientists use these observations to understand the Arctic system and with long-term measurements, changes can be detected and documented. Modeling efforts enable forecasts and predictions on different time scales and help understand and predict changes in the ecosystem. The program works collaboratively with other federal agencies and international partners to obtain observations from a suite of climate observatories around the Arctic.

Arctic Research Program Objectives:

  • Install and maintain a suite of climate observing networks (ocean, sea ice, and atmosphere) in the Arctic.
  • Generate Arctic climate data-sets, support operational weather forecasts, predict the direction and speed of floating sea ice, and detect changes in ecosystem structure that could affect bird, mammal, and fish species.
  • Increase understanding of processes involving ocean heat and freshwater and their sources and pathways into and out of the Arctic region, including their effect on global ocean circulation and stability of the global climate system.
  • Contribute to improvements in observing technology that improve the spatial and temporal scale of observations.
  • Develop products such as forecasts and information for the public and decision makers.

Read the Arctic Research Program Strategy (2022-2026)

Collaboration with Other NOAA Facilities

The Arctic Research Program (ARP) partners with several NOAA laboratories to accomplish its mission. The Earth Systems Research Laboratory provides intellectual and technical expertise plus funding to support additional atmospheric observatories. The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory is developing a modeling framework for the Bering-Chukchi Seas marine observatory. The Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory collects and analyzes climate data and develops model outputs. ARP also relies on the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory for constant improvement in global climate models.


The Arctic Research Program partners with other national and international institutions to facilitate the development of a comprehensive Arctic Observing Network. Because the Arctic region is a complex system involving the atmosphere, ocean, ice, and land across international boundaries, these partnerships are essential for gathering complementary observations from this sensitive portion of our planet.