U.S. Arctic Research Commission will visit Nome this summer

Arctic waters seen from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy. (Photo courtesy NASA Goddard Center)
Arctic waters seen from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy. (Photo courtesy NASA Goddard Center)

The U.S. Arctic Research Commission will be visiting Nome in August looking for feedback on local Arctic research—what’s needed, what’s funded, and what needs more support.

While the commission itself does not fund research, it makes recommendations to Congress and the Office of the President on where funding goes and what research gaps in the Arctic need to be filled. They’re holding their 104th meeting in Nome to solicit ideas about what research people in our region want to see, and to increase awareness of current research that could impact the Bering Strait.

“A good example of that would be the renewable energy session,” said Dr. Cheryl Rosa, deputy director of the commission.

She says they’re looking for Bering Strait region speakers to discuss renewable energy planning, and coordinating brainstorming sessions with the Alaska Energy Authority and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power through UAF.

“The Arctic Research Commission—we don’t fund research, but we support and do coordination efforts, and one of the things we’re moving towards is trying to figure out how we fit in to the renewable energy approach in Alaska and the Arctic in general,” said Rosa.

The U.S. Arctic Research Commission is looking for feedback on any type of research being done in the Arctic—from behavioral health or indigenous languages, to climate change and marine mammals—so they can make funding recommendations to the federal government.

Already signed up to present in August are organizations including Kawerak and Alaska Climate Science Center, and Lisa Wexler, a behavioral health researcher at the University of Massachusetts who lives in Kotzebue.

“The most important part of these presentations is telling us, how are things going with research—are you happy with what’s being done? What do you see as gaps or needs? That’s really where we have the opportunity to assist in a really strong way, because that obviously goes into our reports and then we’re able to follow up from there,” said Rosa.

The commission’s visit to Alaska kicks off in Anchorage on August 24 with a day of presentations on behavioral and mental health. Meetings continue in Nome on the 25, when commission will also tour the Sikuliaq research vessel, which will be docked in our port.