The University of Alaska Fairbanks and the research vessel Sikuliaq will join 13 other partners from Europe and Canada in the newly formed Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium.
The new international collaboration among icebreaker vessel operators supports planning and implementation of Arctic research cruises. UAF operates the Sikuliaq, which is owned by the National Science Foundation.
“Our role as a key partner in ARICE raises the international visibility of Sikuliaq and brings new resources to support our ship operations,” said Bradley Moran, dean of the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. “A priority of this program is to enhance international scientific collaboration in the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas, and in that regard we look forward to increased demand for use of Sikuliaq by the broader research community. This is an important accomplishment for CFOS as operator of Sikuliaq.”
Retreating sea ice and warming waters have given rise to unprecedented political, economic and scientific interest in the Arctic Ocean over the past decade.
Research icebreakers provide the infrastructure and tools for studying ice-covered areas of the Arctic Ocean. But only a few icebreakers are capable of supporting such research. One objective of ARICE is to help increase the efficiency of how icebreaker cruise time is designated so this limited resource is used effectively.
Recognizing the need to provide polar scientists with better research icebreaker capacities for the Arctic, the European Commission will give ARICE $7.1 million over the course of four years to better coordinate the existing polar research fleet.
For the first time, international Arctic scientists will be able to apply for fully funded access to six international icebreakers, including the Sikuliaq, in order to conduct their research in the Arctic Ocean. In the long run, ARICE aims to implement a sustained International Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium to continue to make these resources accessible.
As the U.S. representative in ARICE, the Sikuliaq is well positioned to serve an increasingly international audience and to foster greater collaboration between U.S. Arctic ship users and international partners.
ARICE will be coordinated by the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany. A kickoff meeting will take place at the German Maritime Museum in Bremerhaven this week.
To learn more about the effort, read the Alfred Wegener Institute’s press release: https://www.awi.de/nc/en/about-us/service/press/press-release/neue-wege-in-die-arktis-fuer-exzellente-wissenschaft.html