Arctic Expansion

    Project Abstract

    Arctic StudentsProject Award Number: 1927785
    Funding Agency: U.S. National Science Foundation
    Dates of Award: August 15, 2019-July 31, 2024

    Abstract: NNA Track 1: Arctic impacts and reverberations of expanding global maritime trade routes

    Elise Miller-Hooks (PI), Sara Cobb (CoPI), Celso Ferreira (CoPI) at George Mason University
    Thomas Ravens (Consultant) at University of Alaska - Anchorage
    Anne Garland (CoPI) at Applied Research in Environmental Sciences
    Jinlun Zhang (Senior Investigator) at University of Washington
    Ralph Pundt (Consultant) at Maine Maritime Academy

    As the Arctic thaws, new opportunities for resource exploration and exportation, as well as new routes to support global trade, are expected. Increased passage of commodities through these routes and related industrialization of the Arctic will introduce both opportunities and risks. They will require international agreements and rules of governance to maintain global stability and protect not only the commercial viability of the U.S. Arctic, but the local peoples, environment and natural resources. These new opportunities in the Arctic will have impacts that reverberate across the globe. This effort will create the mathematical modeling, geophysical, computational and social-systems knowledge needed to understand how a changing Arctic will affect world trade flows, supply chains and risks to the Arctic’s natural and social ecosystems and governance. This work will aid in protecting the Arctic peoples and lands, as well as their sovereignty. It will support national security interests, global economic welfare and stability efforts, and will facilitate greater resilience to new threats to local Arctic communities while allowing for sustainable Arctic development and economic growth. Educational and outreach activities include: summer camps held in rural Alaska; curricula modules; cross-university collaboration; project Website; Webinars, conferences, podcasts, dialogues with local stakeholders, dissemination of materials, international workshops and promotion of retention of women and underrepresented minorities in engineering, including native Alaskans.

    A number of technical contributions are anticipated to result from this effort. Specifically, state-of-the-art numerical models will be exploited to develop a high resolution sea-ice forecasting system for predicting Arctic sea ice thickness, ice ridge stability, storm surges and risks from icing and accidents to ships through geophysical ice modeling. Arctic coastal dynamics, incorporating complex systems of physical, thermal, oceanographic and meteorological processes at different scales, and accounting for unstable permafrost, as well as bathymetric and thermal control needs, will be modeled, supporting maritime infrastructure and coastal resilience. Applied theater as pedagogy to improve interpretive learning and risk reduction actions, as well as community-based monitoring, will be used in assessing and managing risks from increased maritime Polar traffic and commercial activity to the Arctic peoples, their lands, cultures and economic welfare. Among Tribally Inclusive Geographic Areas, indigenous, and diverse ethnic groups, generational storytelling relays social ecological contexts to achieve risk. The effort uses innovative methodological approaches rooted in the traditional contextual pedagogy and contemporary participatory data collection techniques. This effort will also develop conflict early warning signs, social network analyses for conflict risk assessment and design of governance approaches based on co-production of knowledge with insights from Northern Alaska. Creation of a conflict early warning system will advance understanding of conflict “attractors” that can be used to model decision-making under conditions of uncertainty in tightly coupled systems, contributing to research on adaptive governance and understanding of cross-scale interactions of both fast and slow systems. Variables associated to community resilience, derived from pooled case comparisons, will be validated in workshops with local stakeholders. Finally, techniques from stochastic and robust optimization, risk and reliability modeling, complementarity and bi-level programming, equilibrium modeling, and game theory, and scalable, globally convergent algorithms will be employed in creating optimization/equilibrium based models and solution methods that exploit risk predictions from ice physics, coastal dynamics and social/governance insights to forecast expected cargo traffic through Arctic passageways over time, along with corresponding changes to traffic flows along alternative world trade routes and supply chains, given geopolitical, ecological, anthropological, geophysical, environmental and regulatory effects and risks in an internationally competitive environment.