Prepared for the International Science Initiative in the Russian Arctic (ISIRA) Working Group Meeting, International Arctic Science Committee, Moscow, October 2006 by Lee W. Cooper, University of Tennessee (


I. Bilateral Activities and Projects in the Russian Arctic Involving U.S. and Russian Scientists


General Basis for U.S. funded research in the Arctic.  The Arctic Research and Policy Act (ARPA) of 1984, U.S. Public Law 98-373, 31 July 1984; amended as Public Law 101-609, 16 November 1990 provides for a comprehensive U.S. national policy dealing with research needs and objectives in the Arctic. The ARPA established an Arctic Research Commission and an Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) to help implement the Act. IARPC includes representatives of all U.S. federal agencies supporting research in the Arctic: the National Science Foundation, Department of Commerce [e.g. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)], Department of Defense [e.g. Office of Naval Research (ONR)], Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior (e.g. National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management), Department of Homeland Security  (e.g. U.S. Coast Guard), National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Smithsonian Institution.  (IARPC) (Arctic Research Commission)


II. Current U.S. National Science Foundation Research Frameworks that support Russian-U.S. research in the Arctic


 “Russian-American Initiative for Shelf-Environments in the Arctic” (RAISE).  This research program, supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation through its Arctic System Science Program within the Office of Polar Programs, and by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research has been an “umbrella,” rather than a centralized coordinated program. A number of individual research projects on topics of environmental and climatic change in the Russian Arctic have been completed and the project is in a “sunset” phase with funding scheduled to end 31 December 2006. An outgrowth of RAISE was a science planning effort involving a large number of U.S. and Russian scientists that identified important research priorities on arctic environmnental change at the land-sea boundary in the Arctic. through a Land-Shelf Interactions (LSI) science plan..  However to date, follow-on funding has been limited to six U.S. projects in the region around Barrow, Alaska. The science plan for LSI is posted at  A research facilitation workshop to make recommendations for improving U.S. – Russian research collaborations in the Arctic was held in June 2005 in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, and brought together Russian and U.S. scientists and U.S. and Russian agency personnel.  A draft proceedings document reporting on the workshop has been posted on the RAISE website and will be finalized before the end of 2006.

Contact: Lee Cooper, steering committe chair and project officer director (University of Tennessee) Vladimir Romanovsky (consultant, University of Alaska Fairbanks) Igor Melnikov, co-chair (Shirshov Institute), Sergey Primakov, co-chair (Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute)


III. Active Individual National Science Foundation Projects with U.S. – Russian Scientific Cooperative Elements:


1. Investigation of Sea Level Rise in the Arctic Ocean Based on analysis of existing, but previously unavailable, time series of sea level heights from Russian archives, along with atmospheric, cryospheric, terrestrial, and oceanic data sets and results of numerical modeling and data reconstruction, project goals are to (1) identify links among sea level variability and atmospheric, hydrologic, cryospheric and oceanic processes, (2) quantify the regional and temporal variability of relevant processes in terms of sea level response, and (3) determine the relative importance of each factor influencing sea level change under global warming conditions. The observed sea level variability, which acts to integrate the complex contributions of these factors, will serve as the primary indicator of the ocean's response to climate change. Based on this analysis, the impact of linkages between hydrography, atmospheric circulation, hydrologic conditions, and the sea ice regime over the Arctic Ocean will be assessed in a conceptual model of sea level change.

Contact: Dr. Andrey Proshutinsky, (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


2. El´gygytgyn Crater Lake Scientific Drilling: Understanding the nature of Arctic Climate Change over the past 3.6 Million Years” Lake El’gygytgyn, located in central Chukotka, NE Russia, is a 3.6 million year old impact crater lake with a diameter of 12 km and a water depth of 170 m. During recent years the sedimentary record of the lake has become a major focus of multi-disciplinary multi-national paleoclimatic research and is now a world-class target for deep scientific drilling with the support of the International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP). A full-length sediment core will yield a complete record of Arctic climate evolution; back one million years prior to the first major glaciation of the Northern Hemisphere. Lake El’gygytgyn is truely unique in that this meteorite landed in the center of what was to become Beringia -- the largest contiguous landscape in the Arctic to have escaped Northern Hemisphere glaciation -- consequently creating a lake basin that would continuously chronicle a long terrestrial record of paleoclimate.   A 12.9 m long sediment core retrieved from the deepest part of the lake in 1998 recorded climate changes of the past 250 ka, and confirmed the lack of glacial erosion. This core also underlined the sensitivity of this lacustrine environment to reflect high-resolution climatic change.  A 16.7 m long sediment core taken in 2003 confirms the reproducibility of the record and dates to nearly 300 ka. The first single channel seismic survey in 2000 and multi-channel seismic surveys in 2003 suggest a depth-velocity model of brecciated bedrock overlain by a suevite layer, in turn overlain by two undisturbed, lacustrine sedimentary units up to 400 m in thickness. In August 2005, partial funds were awarded from ICDP for a drilling campaign in El´gygytgyn Lake in spring 2008.  As of September, 2006, additional matching funds from national sources including the US National Science Foundation and the German Ministry for Science and Education have been awarded  with contributing funding expected from Canada, Austria, and Russia.  The goal is to collect the most unprecedented record of climate change in the terrestrial arctic for comparison with ice cores and lower latitude marine and terrestrial archives of hemispheric and global climate evolution.  Coring objectives include 2 replicate overlapping cores of 410 m and 330 m length at 2 sites (four cores total) near the deepest part of the lake.  One additional land-based core to ca. 200 m on lake sediments now overlain by frozen alluvial sediments will facilitate understanding sediment supply processes to the lake and spatial depositional heterogeneity since the time of impact. Permitting and collaborations with Russian institutions have involved discussions with the Russian Academy of Sciences (parent organization for the North East Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute, Magadan, and the Far East Branch office, Vladivostok), the Roshydromet (parent agency to the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg) as well as the Ministry for Natural Resources (parent to the NEDRA Drilling, Inc.) among other institutions in Russia. This project is also now sanctioned under the Russian Academy of Sciences-U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration Memorandum of Agreement on World Oceans and Polar Regions.

Contacts: Julie Brigham-Grette, (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) Olga Glushkova and Pavel Minyuk (Northeast Interdisciplinary Scientific Center, Magadan) ; Dima Bolshiyanov and Griory Fedorov, (AARI-St.Petersburg); Martin Melles (University of Leipzig, Germany)


3. Continuous Real-Time and Near-Real-Tme Monitoring of Tropospheric Water Vapor in Arctic Siberia by Means of GPS In this project, an observational array of preciptable water vapor sensors and data collection is being implemented across portions of Siberia.  The near-real time data to be collected will be used for calibration and validation of water vapor estimates used  in conjunction with global numerical climate models.

Contacts: Mikhail Kogan (The Earth Institute at Columbia University)


4. “Shelf-Basin Interactions (SBI)” (National Science Foundation and U.S. Office of Naval Research) The Shelf-Basin Interactions program is studying biological and chemical transformations between basin and shelf in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the context of Arctic environmental change. It has been the largest ship-based U.S. program in the Arctic in this decade. Phase II field studies were recently completed, and Phase III synthesis studies are expected to be initiated in 2007. The science plan calls for work in the Russian sector of the Chukchi Sea to monitor high nutrient inflows through the Bering Strait and Herald Canyon, but difficulties with foreign clearance requests have largely limited work to the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. However, data generated from a successful joint U.S. – Russia NOAA-funded cruise in the Russian portion of the Chukchi Sea in 2004 will contribute to the overall study. In addition, several Russian scientists are analysing samples collected during SBI fieldwork in U.S. waters

Contact: Jacqueline M. Grebmeier (University of Tennessee), Igor Melnikov, Mikhail Flint (Shirshov Institute)


5. Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic Phase 2: Inuit, Saami and the Indigenous Peoples of Chukotka The international survey of living conditions among indigenous peoples across the Arctic involves a partnership of researchers and indigenous organizations in Greenland, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Russia, and the United States. The goal of the international study is to develop an integrated set of individual, household, community, and regional databases for use in comparative analyses of living conditions among Arctic populations.

Contact: Jack Kruse, (University of Alaska Anchorage)


6. A Test of the Existence of the Bering Plate Northeast Asia and the Bering Sea remain one of the largest regions for which there is not agreement about the tectonic plate configuration. Far eastern Russia is part of the North American tectonic plate, but the Aleutian arc and at least part of the Bering Sea are moving westward relative to North America. This has led to the proposal of a Bering Plate, and also alternative proposals in which only a part of the Bering Sea crust moves relative to North America. A team of US and Russian scientists is using a combination of GPS surveys around and within the Bering Sea and data from the EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory to resolve a fundamental question: does the Bering Plate exist? If not, how large is the mobile sliver of crust in the southern Bering Sea? These observations can test hypotheses that underlie tectonic models for a significant area at the northwestern corner of the North American plate, and the answers are important for understanding the forces that drive motion of small plates. The results of the project will impact our understanding of deformation in the Aleutian Arc, and from central Alaska to eastern Siberia.

Contacts: Jeffrey Freymueller, (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Mikhail Kogan, (Columbia University)


7. The Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring Network--CALM II (2004-2008): Long-Term Observations on the Climate-Active Layer-Permafrost System The CALM program is a network of circumpolar sites at which data about active-layer thickness and soil, thermal, and geomorphic dynamics in permafrost regions are collected. This work has been supported in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation. Many of the more than 125 CALM sites are located in northern Russia and Alaska. Measurements collected by researchers at CALM sites are transferred electronically to the CALM data repository, where the data are formatted, processed for archiving, and posted on CALM’s web site. Data derived from the observation network are used to examine (1) interannual and spatial thaw variability at a single gridded CALM site, (2) annual variation between CALM sites, (3) decadal variations and trends across large regions, and (4) spatial modeling, at scales ranging from local to circumpolar. Hierarchical sampling is used to develop models of active-layer variation through time and across space. The CALM network is part of the Global Climate Observing System Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P) and both metadata and data are reported on the GTOS Terrestrial Ecosystem Systems web site (, as well as the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center Frozen Ground web site ( All 37 active CALM sites in Russia have one or more grids of either 1 ha or 1 km2, and several sites have supplemental transects that pre-date the establishment of CALM. The Russian CALM network extends from the European tundra and taiga regions to West Siberia and the Lena Delta, eastward to the lower Kolyma River, to the Chukotka and Kamchatka Peninsulas.

Contact: Frederick E. Nelson, or Nikolay I. Shiklomanov, (University of Delaware)


8. Heterogeneity and Resilience of Human-Rangifer Systems: A Circumpolar Social-Ecological Synthesis This project is focused on the The Human-Rangifer System, and is also considered to be supporting the Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership Initiative  (NEESPI), described in Section IV.C. Areas of interest include bio-physical interactions, socio-economic dynamics, the role of social institutions and organizations in shaping human adaptation. The overarching goal of this project is to improve understanding of the relative resilience and adaptability of regional Human-Rangifer Systems to forces of global change, and to derive generalized propositions about their functional properties as critical aspects of the Arctic System. The project will develop a conceptual framework for measuring and assessing resilience in three components of the Human-Rangifer System: ecological processes, socio-economic processes, and institutional processes. In addition, simple synthesis models will be developed and simulated to examine resilience in each subcomponent process interactions, as well as in the coupled social-ecological system. This circum-arctic synthesis will be undertaken through a comparative retrospective analysis of six regional case studies in North America and Russia.

Contact: Gary Kofinas, (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Gennady Belchansky, RAS Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Moscow


9. Bering Sea Volcanic Province: Eruption History, Source Characteristics, Melting Processes and Plate Tectonic Context This project is to undertake a geochronologic, petrologic and geochemical study of the Bering Sea Volcanic Province to evaluate the hypothesis that magmatism in the area was triggered by rift-related decompression, but also that it was facilitated by presence of volatiles introduced by subduction during the lithospheric assembly of Alaska, Bering Sea, and the Chukchi Peninsula (Russia) in the Cretaceous. The work includes a comprehensive 40Ar/39Ar isotopic dating program to clarify the eruption history of the province, and also to provide a chronologic framework for follow-up isotopic determinations. Major oxide and trace element concentrations will be measured to model degree of melting and geochemical character of the source. Data are being evaluated using the more commonly utilized standard element partition models, employing modal batch melting formulations but also equations for the dynamic melting model, which are likely to be more representative of mantle melting scenarios. Primary melt water concentrations will be estimated from olivine melt inclusions by FTIR spectroscopy. The isotopic compositions of Nd, Sr, Pb and Hf will be measured for a detailed assessment of source characteristics and modeling mixing relationships. Some U-series isotopes (U, Th, and Ra) will be measured to further constrain the melting processes and to estimate the depth of melting.  This is a collaborative study with Dr. Vyacheslav (Slava) Akinin of the North East Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute (NEISRI), Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Magadan.

Contact: Samuel Mukasa, (University of Michigan)


10.  “Rapid Assessment of Recent Changes in Land Cover and Carbon Balance in Beringia” This project is assessing decadal time scale changes in ecosystem structure and function at multiple sites throughout the Beringia region. The Russian component of the project was undertaken as part of the Swedish Beringia 2005 Expedition. A major objective of the project is to gauge the probable impact land cover change has had on ecosystem carbon balance. Land cover change is being assessed at the plot level in collaboration with Olga Sumina from St Petersburg State University who established marked plots throughout Chukotka between 1984 and 1986. Land cover change at the landscape level is being assessed using supervised land cover classifications from modern high-spatial resolution satellite imagery that will be compared to land cover maps derived from newly archived historical air photos and/or recently declassified military spy imagery.  Component land-atmosphere fluxes of carbon dioxide and methane were measured in multiple land cover types at each site visited in collaboration with Torben Christensen from Lund University. Component fluxes will be extrapolated to the landscape level for each multi-temporal land cover assessment and the probable changes in carbon fixing potential over time and space will be estimated. Monolith, soil, and vegetation samples were collected for controlled laboratory experiments and analyses that will enable cross-site comparison for a range of biogeochemical processes. The latter also contributes to a larger circum-arctic project being led by Christensen.

Contact: Craig Tweedie,  (University of Texas at El Paso)


11. “Development and Implementation of the terrestrial Circum-arctic Environmental Observatories Network (CEON)”  The key objective of this project is to further the international and multidisciplinary development of the terrestrial Circum-arctic Environmental Observatories Network (CEON).  CEON is a rapidly evolving initiative jointly endorsed by the Forum of Arctic Research Operators (FARO) and IASC. CEON’s mission is to strengthen the capacity for emerging monitoring, research and policy needs at high northern latitudes by making data available that are adequate and suitable for addressing a series of well-defined key scientific questions and uncertainties.  Funding for the U.S. effort is being provided by the National Science Foundation, but it is also being coordinated with international efforts such as  the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) and several other initiatives with a strong Arctic and environmental observation focus, including the second International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP II), the US National Academy of Sciences Study Committee on Design of an Arctic Observation Network (AON), and activities associated with the International Polar Year (IPY). While CEON will be broadly multinational in implmentation, involvement of Russian observatories and networks is critical.  Specific near-term objectives of the U.S. funded portion of this project include:

1. Establish a joint US-Swedish CEON Science Coordination Office (SCO).

2. Convene annual CEON stakeholder and working group meetings to foster the community-based decision making necessary for the development of CEON.

3. Continue the development of novel web-based information portals and visualization tools that improve the capacity for transferring scientific, logistic, and educational knowledge and information both within and outside of CEON. These include A CEON email list, the CEON-Internet Map Server (CEON-IMS -, and a methodological and standards database.

Contact: Craig Tweedie, University of Texas at El Paso (


12. A Climate Model Archive for Arctic Research and Outreach This project is synthesizing the Arctic output of the models being used in the IPCC's Fourth Assessment.  The synthesis includes simulations of the present-day Arctic climate and projections through 2100 under various scenarios of greenhouse forcing.  A subcontract from the International Arctic Research Center in Fairbanks is being used to support work as part of this project at the Main Geophysical Observatory in Saint Petersburg

Contact:  William Chapman, (University of Illinois,
Champaign-Urbana) Vladimir Kattsov, (Main Geophysical Observatory of Roshydromet, Saint Petersburg) John E. Walsh, (International Arctic Research Center, Fairbanks)


IV. Current U.S. Interagency or International Research Frameworks that support Russian-U.S. research in the Arctic


1. “Arctic Coastal Dynamics” The overall objective of ACD is to improve our understanding of circum-Arctic Coastal Dynamics as a function of environmental forcing, coastal geology and cryology and morphodynamic behavior. Specifically, this includes the establishment of the rates and magnitudes of erosion and accumulation of Arctic coasts; development of a network of long-term monitoring sites including local community-based observational sites; estimating the amount of sediments and organic carbon derived from coastal erosion; refining and applying an Arctic coastal classification (includes ground-ice, permafrost, geology etc.) in digital form (GIS format); extraction and utilization of existing information on relevant environmental forcing parameters (e.g. wind speed, sea level, fetch, sea ice etc.); production of a series of thematic and derived maps (e.g. coastal classification, ground-ice, sensitivity etc.); development of empirical models to assess the sensitivity of Arctic coasts to environmental variability and human impacts.

Contact: Torre Jorgenson, U.S. Steering Committee member; ABR, Inc. (


2. “Study of Environmental Arctic Change” (SEARCH) SEARCH is conceived as a broad, interdisciplinary, multi-scale program with support from a number of U.S. agencies. A core aim is understanding recent Arctic environmental change and its relationship to hemispheric phenomena. Science plans for SEARCH were developed following two workshops and are available from the SEARCH website.

Contact: Peter Schlosser (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Chair, Science Steering Committee; Neil Swanberg, (National Science Foundation, Working Group chair)


The following two research initiatives are contributions to the SEARCH program that involve U.S – Russian research collaboration


A.“Climate-Ecosystem Interactions and Ocean Exploration” Several U.S. National  Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs include support for work in the Arctic. In particular, the Arctic Research Office supported joint U.S. – Russian research (RUSALCA) cruises in the Bering and Chukchi Seas in 2004 (interdisciplinary), and again in 2005 and 2006 (mooring deployment and recovery). The long-term goal is to detect and evaluate physical climate change and biotic responses.  Plans call for these annual physical oceanographic cruises and periodic multi-disciplinary cruises to continue over the next several years.  Individual studies that are funded by NOAA directly or through the Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research (CIFAR) include a broad spectrum of physical, biological and chemical studies on the Bering and Chukchi shelves in cooperation with Russian scientists from several institues affiliated with the Russian Academy of Science and also with Roshydromet. The National Oceanographic Data Center is collaborating with many scientists in Russia to rescue and publish historical data.  Several datasets are available now and others are in preparation. The Pacific Arctic Group (PAG) is a multinational working group with Russian, U.S. and other country participation.  It has an interest in strengthening research collaborations in the Pacific-influenced sector of the Arctic Ocean that is guiding science planning efforts.

Contacts: John Calder (NOAA, Arctic Research Office); Jeremy Potter (NOAA, Office of Ocean Exploration);  Sydney Levitus (NODC)


B. “Community-wide Hydrological Analysis and Monitoring Program (Arctic-CHAMP)” is a NSF-supported hydrological program meant to provide a framework for integration studies of the pan-Arctic water cycle and to articulate the role of freshwater in the Arctic system.  The primary aim of Arctic-CHAMP is to catalyse and coordinate interdisciplinary research with the goal of constructing a holistic understanding of arctic hydrology through integration of routine observations, process-based field studies, and modelling. Fieldwork commenced in 2003 and several projects incorporate U.S. – Russian cooperation. The first set of projects, funded under the title Arctic Freshwater Cycle: Land/Upper-Ocean Linkages is clustered together as the "Freshwater Integration (FWI)" project.   The overall program links Arctic-CHAMP through SEARCH to the internationally coordinated Arctic/Subarctic Ocean Flux (ASOF) program (

Contacts: Jonathan Pundsack, (Arctic-CHAMP Science Management Office); Larry Hinzman, (University of Alaska Fairbanks);  CharlesVörösmarty, (University of New Hampshire)


Individual Freshwater Integration projects that involve U.S. – Russian scientific cooperation in the Arctic


1."Biogeochemical Tracers in Arctic Rivers:  Linking the Pan-Arctic Watershed to the Arctic Ocean" (PARTNERS) The overall objective of this project is to use river water chemistry to study the origins and fates of continental runoff.  Biogeochemical tracers are being measured in the six largest arctic rivers (Yenisey, Lena, Ob', and Mackenzie, Yukon, and Kolyma).  These tracers include H218O, barium, alkalinity, organic matter, and nutrients.  Sampling was conducted during the high flow season in Years 2003 and during all season in Year 2004-2005, with high flow period in 2006.  Synthesis and modeling are being emphasized throughout the 5-year project.  Samples are being collected near the mouths of the rivers (but above tidal influence) in order to get fully integrated watershed signals and the most relevant freshwater endmember values for oceanographic tracking.  A Student-PARTNERS program (R.M. Holmes, principal investigator) has also been initiated and is involving students and teachers in the sampling program on a pan-Arctic basis, including within Russia.

Contacts:  Bruce Peterson, (Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole) Robert Max Holmes, (Woods Hole Research Center) Jim McClelland,  (University of Texas at Austin) (Alexander Zhulidov, Rostov-on Don, Russia (; Slava Gordeev, Moscow ( Igor Shiklomanov, St. Petersburg (


2. "Detection and attribution of changes in the hydrologic regimes of the Mackenzie, the Kuparuk and the Lena River BasinsThe objectives of this research are to detect and document changes in the storage of freshwater in the Arctic regions of the Western Canadian, Alaskan, and Eastern Siberian Arctic, to ascribe those changes to their land cover or climate source, and assess the impacts of past and future variations in storage components (e.g., active layer depth, lake volume) on freshwater inputs into the Arctic Ocean. Work in Russia has included two years of regional climate model simulations over a Eurasian model domain that included all of the Lena basin. The overall objective  is to characterize the changing hydrologic regime spatially to facilitate accurate projections of future hydrologic conditions and to develop a numerical modeling capability that 1) accurately captures contemporary climatic and hydrologic dynamics, 2) projects reasonably accurate responses to future scenarios and 3) incorporates well documented algorithms that will be distributed to other modeling groups wishing to include dynamic land surface processes in arctic regions (e.g., for studies of vegetation dynamics or gas flux). The research approach is divided broadly into two main components: process-level hydrologic studies and large-scale atmospheric studies, with a well-defined approach to bridge the scale differences. Process-level studies include field observations and analyses of the storage components in the hydrological cycle as well as modeling of their role in the hydrological cycle. Field studies include surveys of the main storage components, with literature searches and remote sensing filling in many of the gaps. Field studies on the watershed scale have also been conducted at several small watersheds along North/South transects covering the Middle Yukon, Kuparuk, Upper Yukon, Mackenzie and Lena watersheds where long-term records and on-going measurement programs exist. The WaterWERCs model is being applied to these small sub-watersheds for calibration and validation using contemporary records, and to the entire watersheds for both climate scenarios of the past, present and future driven from our atmospheric modeling. The atmospheric model, PAM, is a state-of-the-art regional climate model that will be tailored for use in a pan-Arctic setting and will be driven by gridded atmospheric re-analyses. The atmospheric model results will be validated with available observational data and the gridded model output will be used to force a hydrologic model.

Contact: Larry D. Hinzman, (University of Alaska Fairbanks) John Cassano, (University of Colorado, Boulder)


3. "River discharge from the Russian Federation: An understanding of contemporary trends and their placement in a Holocene context” This research is identifying the causes for increased discharge from Russian rivers to the Arctic Ocean over the past 65 years. The research will then attempt to place these trends into a longer-term (century to millennial time scale) context. The first objective will be approached through quantitative analyses of daily discharge records from major Russian rivers over the past century, starting with a "data rescue" of paper-format records. Securing the second objective will require modeling of paleo-discharge using publicly available tree ring data from well-distributed sites across Arctic Russia. The research will result in a substantially improved understanding of spatial and temporate runoff patterns across the world's largest Arctic landmass, and a historical context by which to evaluate contemporary trends. This understanding will help to answer questions about recent discharge increases, namely, "are they unprecedented?", "where is the water coming from?", and "what physical processes drive them?".

Contact: Laurence C. Smith, (University of California, Los Angeles)


4. "Decadal to Centennial History of Lena River Discharge to the Arctic Ocean” This research is examining the effects of anthropogenic activity and global warming on freshwater and organic carbon input to the Arctic Ocean from the Lena River for the last 50-150 years. Additionally, it is reconstructing the late Holocene freshwater and organic carbon discharges for the past 2,000 years. The overarching goal is to assess impacts of late Holocene climate change on watershed-river-upper ocean linkages. The research is using a broad suite of observations, including bottom sediment and hydrological and hydrochemical properties, from the Lena River and Lena River delta and in order to parameterize the historical data. Age dating is being accomplished using radioactive decay methods to produce a reliable annual to decadal age model, microfossils from sediment cores are being analyzed to reconstruct the Lena River's fluvial dynamics, and palynological studies are providing information about past environmental change in the Lena watershed. Results are to be correlated with tree-ring records to generate information on arctic/subarctic humidity and precipitation. Globally, the results will contribute to understanding contributions of the Russian arctic rivers to global hydrologic and carbon cycles.  A companion 3-year proposal has been funded by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research to support Russian scientists who will collect new paleohydrological data and correlate paleoclimatic records from the Laptev Sea and Lena River delta with a wide variety records from the Central and Southern Siberia.

    Contact: Eugene B. Karabanov, (University of South Carolina) and Michael Kuzmin, (Siberian Branch, Institute of Geochemistry, Irkutsk


5. “Changes in Freeze-Thaw and Permafrost Dynamics and Their Hydrological Implication over the Russian Arctic Drainage Basin” This research is assessing the response of soil thermal, freeze-thaw and permafrost dynamics to climate change, and is evaluating the impacts of these processes on the hydrologic cycle of the Russian arctic drainage basin over the past half century. Research methods include analysis and synthesis of data acquired (in many cases, rescued) from 400 locations distributed throughout the former Soviet Union. A key question being addressed focuses on explaining the large observed geographical irregularity in long-term surface temperature change. The research is structured to investigate a key hypothesis that relates climate warming, higher permafrost temperature, a deeper active layer, and a longer thaw season. One result will be the impact of climate warming, through the soil and permafrost interactions, on the seasonal cycles of riverine fresh water input to the Arctic Ocean. The project is also yielding a series of data products relevant to soil temperature and freeze-thaw cycles.

Contact: Tingjun Zhang (


C. “Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership Initiative (NEESPI)” NEESPI is a new, evolving research framework supporting earth system science research in northern Eurasia, including participation from Russia, Ukraine, Finland and other countries.  In the U.S., the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has provided project funding through the NASA Land Cover Land Use and NASA Carbon Cycle Science programs, and other projects supporting the science plan have been funded through NSF and NOAA. Projects funded under the NEESPI framework that involve at least some fieldwork at high latitudes are outlined below; other projects are tabulated on the NEESPI website.  One project funded by the NSF, Heterogeneity and Resilience of Human-Rangifer Systems: A Circumpolar Social-Ecological Synthesis, is described in Section IV.8.  Because many of the U.S. efforts are just being initiated, in some cases, detailed project information is not yet available.


NEESPI lead contact: Pavel Ya. Groisman (


1.“Thermal State of Permafrost (TSP): The U.S. contribution to the International Permafrost Observatory Network (INPO)” This project, planned as part of the International Polar Year, will involve a coordinated effort to obtain a “snapshot” of permafrost borehole temperatures as a basis for developing a permanent international network of permafrost observation sites. U.S. participation is funded by the NSF.  

Contact:  Vladimir Romanovsky, (University of Alaska Fairbanks)


2. “Social vulnerability to climate change in Arctic western North America and eastern Russia.”Funding provided by NOAA in 2005.

Contact: David Atkinson, (International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Alexander Vasiliev, Institute of Earth Cryosphere, Moscow

Stanislav Ogorodov, Moscow State University, Moscow


3. “The exploration of the coastal zone in the East-Siberian Sea and adjacent parts of the Laptev and Chukchi Seas

Research cruises in the East Siberian, Laptev, and Chukchi Seas have been supported annually for several years, including in 2006 using Russian vessels, with funds derived from NSF and/or NOAA grants to the International Arctic Research Center at the Univeristy of Alaska Fairbanks, as well as Russian Academy of Science (RAS) sources. A set of companion proposals has been funded by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) to support scientists from the Pacific Oceanological Institute  who represents the RAS in this bi-national venture. Scientists from the PP Shirshov Institution of Oceanology RAS and Zoological Institute RAS were also involved in this project. Trace gases emissions, the contributions of organic materials from coastal erosion, and biogeochemical processes in marine sediments and water have been some of the key points of research focus.

Contact: Valentin Sergienko, (Far Eastern Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok, Russia)

 Igor Semiletov, and Natalia Shakhova, (International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks)


4. “Permafrost dynamics within the Northern Eurasia region and related impacts on surface and sub-surface hydrology

Funded by NASA’s Terrestrial Hydrology Program

Contact: Vladimir Romanovsky, (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Mikhail Zheleznyak, Permafrost Institute, Yakutsk

Vyacheslav Razuvaev, Research Institute for Hydrometeorological Information, Obninsk


5. “Current climate changes over Eastern Siberia and their impact on permafrost landscapes, ecosystem dynamics, and hydrological regime

Funded by NASA’s Terrestrial Hydrology Program

Contact: Larry Hinzman, (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Nikolay Romanovsky, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow

Aleksander Georgiadi, RAS Institute of Geography, Moscow


V. Other U.S. organizations and agencies with some Russian arctic research interactions (probably not a comprehensive list)


1.  U.S. National Park Service:“Shared Beringian Heritage Program” The U.S. National Park Service funds projects of scientific and community importance in the Beringia Region of western Alaska and Chukotka. The projects are typically local community-based, and relatively small in scope. A complete list of current projects is available at the program web site.

Contact: Peter Richter (National Park Service)


2. U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) CRDF is a non-profit charitable entity that supports scientific and technical collaborations between U.S. and scientists in the former Soviet Union, including Russia. Most projects are not explicitly Arctic in orientation, but several funded programs have had at least some Arctic emphases.


3. Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC) The Barrow Arctic Science Consortium, a non-profit entity in Barrow, receives U.S. National Science Foundation logistics funds, as well as funds from other U.S. agencies to assist researchers working on the North Slope of Alaska and in Chukotka.  One of their initiatives has been to improve capabilities for supporting scientific research in Chukotka through the improvement of infrastructure. The Chukotka Science Support Group (CSSG), an official Russian non-profit entity run by Yupik Eskimo and Chukchi Natives and supported by BASC, is developing science support facilities in the villages of Lavrentiya and Provideniya, which are available to visiting researchers.  Limited facilities are also available in Anadyr.  Science support by Chukotka Governor Abramovich has also facilitated improvements, including access to direct flights from Anchorage to Anadyr, and possibly other Chukotkan villages.  CSSG now maintains a full time employee in Moscow to assist U.S. researchers with permitting and other logistics efforts.  Among the current U.S. projects using resources and facilities in Chukotka through BASC are San Diego State University researchers studying release of carbon dioxide using tower-based eddy covariance (Dr. Walter Oechel),  an atmospheric mercury measurement program supported by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Dr. Steve Brooks), and a mercury in snow educational program in village schools supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Drs. Matt Landis and Robert Stevens). 

Contact: Dr. Glenn W. Sheehan (Barrow Arctic Science Consortium), Vladimir Bychkov (Chukotka Science Support Group, Provideniya), Gennady Zelensky (Chukotka Science Support Group, Lavrentiya).


4. The Alaska Volcano Observatory  is operated by the U. S. Geological Survey, the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the State of Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys) interacts with the Kamchatka Volcano Event Response Team, which is a unit of the Institute for Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry and the Institute of Seismology, both based in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. A coordinated research program monitors volcanic activity along the breadth of the Aleutian-Kamchatkan-Kurile Arcs. Goals include monitoring and other scientific investigations in order to assess the nature, timing, and likelihood of volcanic activity; assessing volcanic hazards associated with anticipated activity, including kinds of events, their effects, and areas at risk; and providing timely and accurate information on volcanic hazards, and warnings of impending dangerous activity, to local, state, and federal officials and the public.

Contacts: John Eichelberger (University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute)


5. 5. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  and U.S. Geological Survey.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) oversees transnational wildlife management and conservation issues, including migratory birds, marine mammals, salmon, and ecosystem studies of the Bering and Chukchi Seas. Bilateral activities are carried out under the U.S.-Russia Environmental Agreement (1972; 1994); U.S.-Russia Migratory Bird Convention (1976); and U.S.-Russia Agreement on Management of the Alaska-Chukotka Polar Bear Population (2000). There are regular exchanges of information and scientists, as well as periodic joint research cruises for wildlife surveys and physical oceanography studies. For example, in spring 2006, the USFWS, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), ChukotTINRO, and Giprorybflot jointly conducted a population survey of the Pacific walrus in the Bering Sea.  The survey had two components, an aerial survey using thermal imagery to count walruses on ice (USFWS and Giprorybflot lead), and deployment of satellite radio transmitters to estimate the proportion of walruses that were in water and unavailable for counting during the survey over-flights (USGS and ChukotTINRO lead). The Russian icebreaker Magadan was used as part of this cooperative study.

Contact: Steve Kohl, Russia and East Asia Branch, Division of International Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Chadwick Jay, U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center


6. Stanford University. Researchers based at Stanford University have carried out extensive field geologic research in the Russian Far East over many years. Research has been in collaboration with geologists from the Geological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (GINRAS) in Moscow as well as local geologists and geologists from the Northeast Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute (NEISRI), Magadan. Support for these projects has come from Stanford University research funding for support of Regional Geology, Stratigraphy, Structural Geology, Tectonics and Geochronology.  Recent work included fieldwork in Chukotka as part of the 2005 Swedish Beringia Expedition, and three weeks of field work on Wrangel Island in the summer of 2006 jointly with GINRAS Moscow funded by an American Chemical Society ACS-PRF Award to  Miller.  A fairly complete list of projects in the Russian NE, including the Russian Arctic is listed as the result of an NSF funded workshop and is current to 2005 is available at

Contact: Elizabeth Miller,


7. The International Arctic Research Center (IARC) located at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), is jointly supported by U.S. and Japanese government funds and conducts research throughout the Arctic.  Several  IARC-led projects  and a University of Alaska laboratory development project with a special emphasis on work in the Russia Arctic are underway and a memorandum of agreement has also been signed between IARC and the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences supporting additional efforts in the Pacific-influenced Arctic.  In addition to the projects outlined below, several other projects involving IARC scientists are described in the NSF (Section III) and NEESPI framework outlines (Section IV.C)

Contact: Larry Hinzman, (IARC)


a. The Nansen and Amundsen Basins Observational System   (NABOS) and the CAnadian Basin Observational System (CABOS) are meant to provide a quantitative, observationally based assessment of circulation, water mass transformations, and transformation mechanisms in the Arctic Ocean. These efforts are envisioned as the beginning of a multi-year monitoring system of the Arctic Ocean. Mooring deployments and recoveries have occured each year since 2002, including on the Laptev Sea slope and in the Canada Basin. All of these moorings were equipped with McLane Moored Profilers (MMP) which are capable of profiling temperature, salinity, and three components of current operating for the whole year. The Russian icebreaker "Kapitan Dranitsyn" and the Canadian icebreaker "CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier" have been used in this work as ship platforms. The Russian icebreaker has also been used as a summer school platform to involve graduate students from a number of countries in the shipboard work and to hear from international experts.  Elementary and secondary teachers from several countries were also involved in the 2006 cruise. Expansion of this program to provide a quantitative, observationally based assessment of circulation, water mass transformations, biogeochemical fluxes, key mechanisms of variability in the Arctic Ocean as part of the Integrated Arctic Ocean Observing System is anticipated as a near-term goal.  The key Russian organization cooperating in this work is the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg. Funding is being provided by both the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Frontier Program for Global Change (Japan)

Contact: Igor Polyakov and Igor Dmitrenko (IARC)


b. First International Workshop on Geotechnical Engineering in Permafrost Regions Related to Pipeline Construction. This was a recent workshop sponsored by IARC that brought together Japanese, Russian, Canadian, and American engineers and scientists for the purpose of sharing information on the geotechnical engineering design of chilled gas pipelines in Arctic regions, such as portions of Alaska, Siberia, and Canada that hold significant natural gas reserves.

Contact: Scott Huang, (University of Alaska Fairbanks)


c. “Study of uncertainty of sea ice albedo in the Arctic in observations and modelling” Using simulation, multi-sensor satellite measurements, and in situ observations, this research is quantifying seasonal Arctic sea ice albedo and associated errors. The albedo estimates and errors are being used to assess the sensitivity of the Community Climate System Model (CCSM3) to albedo parameterizations.

Contact: Gennady Belchansky,, (Institute of Ecology, Moscow and IARC); Vladimir A. Alexeev, (IARC)


d. Other Cooperative Agreements.  An agreement is in place to support the development of a Vitus Bering Laboratory (VBL) through a cooperative memorandum of understanding between the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, IARC, and the V.I.IL’Ichev Pacific Oceanological Institution, Far East Branch Russian Academy of Sciences. The purpose is to foster the joint pursuit of academic and scientific activities among the participants through the creation of an integrated bilateral laboratory. The region of primary interest to VBL will be the Bering Sea and those regions affecting conditions and processes therein. Scientific topics will include ocean climate, ocean transport, marine ecosystems/biodiversity, stocks of salmon/pollock, land shelf interactions, pollution transport and deposition. A second memorandum of agreement, signed in 2004, outlines mutual interests between the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in joint field, laboratory, modeling and analytical studies. Future annexes to this agreement will detail arrangements for specific projects.


Contact: Denis Wiesenburg, (University of Alaska Fairbanks) Valentin Sergienko, (Far Eastern Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok)

Craig Dorman, (University of Alaska Fairbanks)


8. Sloan Foundation Census of Marine Life”


The Census of Marine Life is a global network of researchers in more than 70 countries engaged in a ten-year (2000-2010) initiative to assess and explain the diversity, distribution and abundance of marine life in the oceans. The Sloan Foundation is providing support for the Census of Marine Life program in the Arctic Ocean and in the Bering Sea region through a project office at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and taxonomic centers at the Zoological Institute and the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology.  Data base work, student and academic exchange, joint expeditions and work towards making Russian biodiversity references electronically available commenced in 2004.

Contact: Rolf Gradinger, Bodil Bluhm, or Russ Hopcroft,; Andrey Gebruk,